Baroness Brenda Hale, the chief architect behind the pivotal Children Act 1989 and one-time feminist academic, will retire on 10th January 2020. I gave my version of her biography (admittedly partisan) when she was appointed to that role in September 2017. I will not repeat myself though you may be interested in looking back at it. You will, no doubt, be keen to watch her valedictory ceremony and speeches.
I neither mourn nor celebrate her going. If it had not been her, it would have been someone else.
Hale was the first woman President of the Supreme Court, though that is less significant than it might appear given that the Supreme Court, a creation of the Blair/Brown Governments, came into being only in October 2009. The Supreme Court assumed the judicial authority previously enjoyed by the House of Lords. This acquires an interesting political spin when one recalls their Judicial Lordships’ recent (and, it seems, only 3 months later, remarkably pointless) ruling that Boris Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament was unlawful.
I disagree. In a Constitutional Monarchy, one meaningful action which the Monarch can, and is required, to take is to dissolve Parliament if the so-called representatives of the people have demonstrably deviated from being representative of the people. This was already the case when the Supreme Court made their ruling, and it is even more clear now. Their ruling was, “the decision to advise Her Majesty to prorogue was unlawful because it had the effect of frustrating or preventing the ability of Parliament to carry out its constitutional functions”. But this is incorrect. In a democracy, the ultimate sovereignty lies with the people. And in a Constitutional Monarchy the Monarch is charged with protecting that sovereignty against usurpation by errant Parliamentary representatives, as was the case here. The Supreme Court, under Hale’s presidency, has proved to be a highly partisan political body and this experimental appellate court should be disbanded. However, I digress.
Though I will not reprise my previous biography, there are two quotes which I have repeated many times and which serve to illustrate whence she cometh,
“It is now well recognised that a misplaced conception of equality has resulted in some very unequal treatment for the women and girls who appear before the criminal justice system. Simply put, a male-ordered world has applied to them its perceptions of the appropriate treatment for male offenders…. The criminal justice system could … ask itself whether it is indeed unjust to women.”
Even more importantly, from the 1989 Children Act, para 2(4), this killer stroke is Hale’s greatest achievement,
“The rule of law that a father is the natural guardian of his legitimate child is abolished.”
I will return to that.
There are those who would pour praise upon Hale on the basis that the 1989 Children Act enshrined in law the Paramountcy Principle, namely that the welfare of the child should be the courts’ paramount consideration. I have met no one who disagrees. It is not that laudable principle which is contentious, but the manner by which it may be achieved.
What we have here is yet another deployment of Moral Vampirism. This is a tactic in which a valid moral concern is used to blindside us to policies which are enacted under its cover. It is a form of verbal legerdemain whose purpose is to deaden critical faculties. For example, it may seem good for a court to listen to “the voice of the child” – if it’s said quickly. But that is not a policy which any parent would indulge in overmuch at home, otherwise it would be all video games and no school.
One of the many things for which the Family Courts can be criticised is the lack of monitoring of the outcomes of their own decisions – and I include Public Law as well as Private Law cases. There should be a database of millions of longitudinal case histories stretching back half a century, something any social scientist would give their right arm for. But it does not exist. Instead we are obliged to rely on “studies” coming out of an academia which is so ideologically skewed as to make most such reports worse than valueless.
How convenient it is that the feminists insist everything is a social construct and biology counts for nothing. Yet motherhood is firmly and inviolately embedded in the biological, whereas fatherhood is entirely dependent upon social approbation and reinforcement. By denying this, the feminists hide women’s natural privilege. Reversing the social endorsement of fatherhood in primary legislation – abolishing the rule of law that a father is the natural guardian of his legitimate child – is the action of a bully. It is the action of the powerful and secure upon those who have not the means to defend themselves. It emanates from a mindset which still wants to extract benefit from men without giving anything back in return. There is no longer a deal on the table. There is only coercion. Then fools cry that young men today lack “commitment”. But, as C.S.Lewis (or Geoff Dench) might have put it, there is a more ancient magic which men possess: in the end, they can just walk away.
What lies behind all this is a towering arrogance. The feminists believe that men are unnecessary. More specifically, they believe that fathers are unnecessary. The weight of evidence to the contrary cuts no ice. The feminist project is to “free” women from dependency upon men, and marriage is, in their view, the quintessential embodiment of that dependency. Ergo, the principal aim of feminism is, and always was, to smash marriage. Despite this being espoused openly in a vast outpouring of feminist literature – and being carried out very successfully in practice – the public remain unaware of this central policy objective, bamboozled as they are by the smoke screen of “equality”. Here’s a quote from Baroness Hale (plain Mrs Justice Hoggett at the time, I think),
“Family Law no longer makes any attempt to buttress the stability of marriage or any other union….Logically we have already reached a point at which, rather than discussing which remedies should be extended to the unmarried, we should now be considering whether the legal institution of marriage continues to serve any useful purpose (Eekalaar & Kats, 1980)”
…an opinion which did not prevent her marrying twice herself.
The trend away from marriage, and the related loosening of the bonds between fathers and their children, was not the sole creation of Baroness Hale – but she was part of the feminist-driven process which caused it and she had a larger part in it than most. The project of demonising men and making women fearful of men is part of the same policy direction. That fatherlessness is related to severe adverse outcomes for children is now undeniable – but that does not stop it being denied. And the blame is also so wonderfully deniable: it is all the fault of feckless men. What an odd coincidence that men have become feckless at the same time that feminism successfully engineered society in accord with their ideology.
And with the decrease in marriage, and the rise in transient cohabitation and single living, comes, not only fatherlessness, but also a destruction of communities. It will not wash to lay the blame for the divisions in our society, now so painfully evident, at the door of “Tory austerity”. This has been building for fifty years, across many Governments of both political complexions. The one constant, and always the driver of social change, has been feminism: the Teflon ideology which is never held to account.
The beneficiaries of this social engineering are not only the two million or so men who have been mangled by the Family Courts’ child arrangements over the last forty years, but also the single parents struggling to raise children alone. These single parents are not only the product of divorce, but also – and mainly – the product of the decline of marriage. Welcome to the urban man deserts. Even ten years ago one could identify many city postcodes – perhaps some in every major city – in which two-thirds to three-quarters of families with dependent children were single parent families. And between 80% and 90% of families with dependent children in these districts do not have two married (or civil partnered) parents.
Marriage is not for the benefit of men or women. It never was. It is not a lifestyle choice. Marriage was devised as a structure for the raising of children. The attack on marriage is therefore an attack on children.
The destruction of marriage goes hand-in-hand with the drive to get women working more hours outside the home (the true objective behind the pay gap bullshit). This is to be achieved (in the minds of those who advocate this policy) by state-controlled childcare. It is fully consistent with the morphing of state education from academic education into social re-education. This is the “progressive” agenda. Brenda Hale has done her bit to push it along. To anyone who knows anything about the psychology of child development, it is a horrifying prospect.
Even those people who prefer to remember Hale mostly as a child rights campaigner and as “the judge who tried to put children first in court settings and cases involving child welfare issues” are obliged also to recall that her creation, the 1989 Children Act, “includes the right to remove children from parents without their consent (forced/ non consensual/ involuntary adoption)” and that this is presented as justified on the basis of “the nebulous test of ‘risk of future harm’”. Those who sup with the Devil should be aware that one’s spoon can never be long enough. Once you have let the state into your family, you have compromised your authority to protect your own children. The same weapons that may seem to assist you now can later be used against you. This same “nebulous risk of future harm” has been used in the Family Courts for decades to sunder fathers from their children – and in far greater numbers than involuntary adoptions.
Researching Reform have commented on this issue recently in the context of new guidance on human rights law published by the British Association of Social Workers. The article reacts to the guidance’s referring to “dispensing of parental consent to adoption” as merely “controversial” with some incredulity. The author notes that, “Forced adoption is no longer seen as controversial by experienced academics, politicians and campaigners in this field. It is seen as a phenomenon which breaches the human rights of children and families without good reason”. The author further notes that, “social work practice is to a very large extent not backed up by science or data”. The article also claims that covert surveillance via social media is being used by social workers, observing that, “a spike in child welfare professionals using platforms like Facebook to spy on families and children has been particularly concerning, after a study carried out by Lancaster University confirmed that social workers were breaking the law by accessing users’ personal information”.
Non-consensual adoption is the subject of Family Court Judge Stephen Wildblood’s latest play, as reported by Louise Tickle in the Guardian. Having noted that both the father and the mother are present in the Court, the play has the judge rule “I therefore dispense with the consent of the mother and of the father to the placement of Kye for adoption”. But then Tickle writes,
“Listening to the words that will remove a baby from its mother, for ever, feels akin to what it must once have been like to hear a judge pronounce the death sentence. It is hard to think of a more serious act – even imprisonment – that the state can now impose than extinguishing the relationship between a parent and their child.”
Yes, quite. But only the mother, it seems, will be so affected according to Tickle. And where was the Guardian’s concern these last 50 years when exactly this treatment was meted out to fathers in numbers vastly greater? Empathy gap, at all?
All this has been but a precursor to an examination of the statistics of children in care – which will come shortly in a following post. For now, consider Figure 1 which shows the increased numbers of children “in care” (England only) since Hale’s creation, the 1989 Children Act, was passed. Figure 2 shows the increased number of children being adopted from care (in England) over that same period. Nearly 90% of the latter are enforced adoptions in which the parents’ consent is “dispensed with”.
Figure 1: Total number of children “in care” in England (top curve)
Figure 2: Number of children in care who were adopted, per year (England)