A piece in yesterday’s Times:
Boris Johnson is being urged to apologise for describing the children of single mothers as “ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate”.
The Tory leader came under fire after the unearthing of a column on the “appalling proliferation of single mothers” written for The Spectator in 1995.
Mr Johnson said he blamed successive Labour and Tory governments “for failing to restrict the public emoluments available to this group”.
He stated that no one believed that “these girls make a cold and detailed calculation of the benefits that might be available to them if they failed to take their pill”. However, Mr Johnson then wrote there was “some evidence that the prospect of more readily available housing is an enticement . . . It must be generally plausible that if having a baby out of wedlock meant sure-fire destitution on a Victorian scale, young girls might indeed think twice about having a baby.”
Mr Johnson said that most blame rested with the “modern British male”. He wrote: “If he is blue collar, he is likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless, and perhaps claiming to suffer from low self-esteem brought on by unemployment. If he is white collar, he is likely to be little better. It is no use blaming uppity and irresponsible women for becoming pregnant in the absence of a husband.
“J’accuse men of being responsible for a social breakdown which is costing us all, as taxpayers, £9.1 billion per year, and which is producing a generation of ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate children who in theory will be paying for our pensions.”
Gingerbread, a charity that advocates on behalf of single parents, criticised the prime minister. “Boris Johnson’s past description of single parents is wrong,” a spokesman said. “His stereotyping is a thoughtless and inaccurate characterisation of almost 2 million people. Single-parent families are part of mainstream life in the UK, with one in four families headed by a single parent. Employment rates for single parents are at a record high, with almost 70 per cent of single parents working in spite of the lack of flexible work and high cost of childcare. A recent study by Gingerbread and Sheffield University showed that being raised by a single parent has no negative impact on a child’s wellbeing. It is poverty, not the shape or size of their family, that affects children’s ability to achieve their full potential.”
Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrat equalities spokeswoman, said: “So many of us in this country know the reality of the sacrifice and effort made by single parents. But yet again these comments show Boris Johnson is not fit to be prime minister and is no champion of women’s or children’s rights.
“My father died suddenly at 44, leaving my mum with three daughters, none of whom grew up ignorant or aggressive.”
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