Stop press - Howard's hypocrisy
MICHAEL HOWARD will set out the Conservatives¹ new policy
on crime tomorrow,
calling on fathers to stop abdicating responsibility for errant
The Conservative leader will speak in Middlesbrough
after meeting Ray
Mallon, the town¹s Mayor, the former police superintendent
who pioneered the
³zero tolerance² approach to crime in Britain.
Mr Howard is expected to say that many factors
have led to the breakdown of
law and order, but ³most damaging of all has been the
dramatic decline in
personal responsibility². He singles out fathers and
says they should have
more involvement with their sons.
Campaign group Fathers4Justice today welcomed
Tory leader Michael Howard¹s
support for giving parents equal access to their children
The Tory leader underlined his party¹s
belief that children, and boys in
particular, benefited from a male influence in their lives,
during a speech
in Middlesbrough today.
To highlight his comments, two members of the
campaign group, dressed as
Batman and Robin, have taken up residence on scaffolding erected
Birmingham County Court.
Jason Hatch, 32, and 48-year-old Dave Pike,
from Gloucester, were sheltering
under a tarpaulin from the torrential rain on the Bull Street
Their campaign banner stated: ³This court
is under new management².
In a statement, Fathers4Justice founder Matt
O¹Connor said he welcomed Mr
He said: ³We wholeheartedly welcome the
Conservatives¹ important initiative
on this issue, in particular their linking of fatherlessness
explosion in young offending since the introduction of the
³One in four teenagers is now a criminal
and the cost to the country
according to the Audit Office was £10 billion last year.²
(Sic – our rights as fathers are already enshrined in
law, please don’t remind the Government and their judicial
stooges that we have the sex discrimination Act 1975, articles
3,6,8,14 and 17 HRA 1998 and article 13 ECHR, and other laws
to protect us equally as women who make mothers! Guess what,
they have just admitted open discrimination…..watch
Children's Minister Margaret Hodge wanted "sanctions"
against mothers who refuse to let fathers see children.
And Tory leader Michael Howard called for parents to automatically
have equal access.
The moves come after pressure from divorced dads in the Fathers
4 Justice pressure group.
Ms Hodge said she was "saddened" the issue was becoming
party political and insisted courts were not "institutionally
unfair" to fathers with nine out of 10 families sorting
out access by agreement.
But Mr Howard said a law change was vital to ensure parents
did not lose touch with children.
Michael Howard has called on the government to introduce shared
parenting rights. During a Conservative summit on family issues,
the Tory leader urged ministers to combat the "absolute
gender bias'' in custody cases. The summit has been designed
to confront "the failures in the family law system and
the issue of legal contact with children for parents and grandparents
after a relationship breaks down".
Howard was backed by Theresa May, the Conservatives' first
dedicated shadow minister for the family. The Conservative
leader told delegates that "the best parent is both parents'',
even after divorce. "The statistics on family breakdown
have grown all too familiar. In 1961, there were just 27,000
divorces," said Howard. "In 2001, there were 160,000.
Today divorce affects almost 150,000 children every year,
more than two thirds of whom are under the age of ten. "Our
courts are not just dealing with the financial aspects of
family breakdown - they are also involved in trying to ensure
that children have ongoing contact with both parents and the
Howard said that children "need to have contact with
their mothers and fathers if at all possible". "The
Conservative approach is founded in our belief that when families
break down both parents - and their families - should have
access to their children if at all possible," he explained.
"We believe that in family disputes the courts should
be the last, not the first, resort for parents who separate.
Mediation should as far as possible always be the first step.
"We believe that there should be a strong presumption
in favour of equal rights for parents to have an influence
on the upbringing of their children. "The absence of
such a presumption has meant that parents with residence have
found it far easier to obstruct the other parent’s access
to their children and their ability to have a say in how those
children are brought up. We must redress that imbalance."