The presenter of a new BBC documentary on ‘broken Britain’ says the decline of marriage is to blame – but that social liberals will find that hard to accept.
John Ware, whose programme The Death of Respect goes out on BBC2 tonight, says the “post-war experiment in individualism” has left us with a fragmented society.
He said: “This started in the 1970s with the increase in unmarried parents, lone parents, cohabiting parents and step-parents.
“In its wake came generations of children who have been shifted from pillar to post.”
Mr Ware says that in the “rush to sweep away from the 1960s much that was bad”, Britain “also abandoned much that was good, including the institution of marriage.”
But despite “the evidence of marriage being generally best for children”, Mr Ware said the Government had “avoided debating” the issue.
He said: “Despite such authoritative warnings, ministers and their advisors seem reconciled to the relentless rise in family breakdown and single parenthood, seeing this as an irreversible social trend whose expensive consequences we will just have to crisis manage”.
Mr Ware said the only way to reverse the problem is to “accept that the fragmentation of society is closely linked to the decline of marriage.”
Mr Justice Coleridge, a leading family judge who features in Mr Ware’s programme, said the BBC had given it an 11.20pm TV slot because the content on family breakdown was deemed “too dark” for prime time.
He wrote last month of inviting a BBC researcher to spend the day watching a run-of-the-mill High Court case.
He said she was “stunned into silence and remained speechless” when he told her that “within the Royal Courts of Justice, there were 20 or so other judges engaged in similar cases”.
“Across inner London, well over 100 family courts were dealing with family breakdown that day, in one guise or another. Multiply that across the rest of the country, and you get some feel for the scale of the epidemic”, he commented.