Thursday, March 05, 2009


It’s the Tory conference circa 1992 and the Social Security Secretary Peter Lilley one of the new breed of right wing reactionary Thatcherites is working the crowd like it’s a Nuremberg rally; he performs a pastiche of Gilbert & Sullivan’s song from the Mikado “I’ve got a little list of those who would not be missed” his version has the following line “young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing queue” This was the Tories at their populist worst. Remember Edwina Curry brandishing handcuffs from the platform and screeching like one of the women at the foot of the guillotine; knitting and cheering to the sound of the Tumbrels, it was that kind of atmosphere. Single mothers were always one of the Tories favourite easy targets and it appears that today they still present a soft option for aspiring politicians with ambition, ambition’s the thing of course that did for Julius Caesar so; step forward Tom Harris Labour MP for Glasgow South, an apparent admirer of the opinions on single mothers held by the right wing Tory Peter Lilley, yes you read that right I said a Labour MP Mr. Harris is a Labour MP.

The Evening Times records him thus “young mums are a drain on society - teenage mothers living off the state are nothing other than a catastrophe - teenage girls should not be collecting benefits or having under age sex – they make no effort to achieve any qualification” It appears that this obdurate outburst came about as a result of Mr. Harris’s wife being put through the ordeal of having a teenage mother put in the next bed to her in hospital after both had given birth. Can you imagine the horror of it? The trauma of having a young girl and her new born infant put in a bed near you, we can only try to imagine what the young mother and child must have been like to provoke such an outburst, at least we can be grateful that Mrs. Harris and baby Harris survived this ordeal.

Mr. Harris and I are members of the same political party; Labour; and I have said often that it is a broad church Mr.Harris certainly proves that OK, I don’t know him and I don’t know why he is a member of the Labour Party but I know why I am. I am a member because I’m a Socialist and that means that my political stance is to help those less well off in society such as single teenage parents not to condemn them and moralise about them in an arrogant outburst of superiority. His remarks could have easily come from a Tory backwoodsman instead of from a Labour MP; he doesn’t make a single remark about how teenagers find themselves in such predicaments, no attempt to help; just condemnation, no comment about sex education or the treatment of women by our society either, as someone else once said “there is no such thing as society” right Mr. Harris? I wonder how you get on with members of your CLP. how did you ever get elected as a Labour candidate?

Raising a child is a difficult job; more so if you are a single teenage mother; N.B. it is very rarely ‘single teenage father’ Mr. Harris has nothing to say about that either, young mothers in such circumstances need encouragement and help not condemnation, like others who do not conform to what some like to call normal society like same sex couples, elderly siblings or teenagers on benefits they are all families. The idea that young girls should be punished by the removal of benefits because they have had a child is outrageous; it’s the world of the poorhouse; a Dickensian obscenity and the idea that a Labour MP is suggesting such a thing beggars belief.

To decent people everywhere; to young struggling single mothers everywhere, to people who love them and their children, to those who help and rally round them, to the vast majority of our fellow members of society, I want to say that Mr. Harris does not speak for the Labour Party, the day that he does on such matters will be the day that I leave.


Allan said...

I think your defence of the lazy poor is disgusting.

Whatever you say, there ARE people like that in paisley, perfectly willing to do anything to avoid a hard day at work. Why Ferguslie Park is full of "Lazy Poor" people.

There are many reasons why these people are this way, but New Labour have done nothing to encourage them from benefits/the bookies/the pubs to make a contribution to their community.

Anonymous said...

I read this piece on the BBC website and basically Tom Harris appeared to be questioning the grandfather's exclamation of pride in his daughter becoming a parent at the age of 16.

I think he is right to ask

"Proud that any chance of a decent education, followed by a decent job, was now remote at best?

It is incredibly sad that many young mothers often find themselves in this situation and only a few of them get the help and support (mostly from immediate family) that helps them get a better education and subsequently a better standard of living for their kids and it is entirely proper that the wider society should help out when others cant or wont. To withdraw benefits or support penalises the child far more than the young parent.

That said we all have rights and we all have responsibilities however far too often nowadays people, of all ages, are only interested in their rights. Thats where the real shame is.

Anonymous said...


May I please ask you a question.

Do you personally agree with This and if so, can you please explain to me how further incursions into both our Private and Civil Liberties wont be abused by somebody, somewhere, at a later date?

In my own humble opinion, this is just fundamentally wrong.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Allan) 05/03/09
What is disgusting is your predictable reactionary bias; lots of people avoid work at any cost not just people in Ferguslie; why not start with the Royal Family they won’t work and they are far more expensive than a single teenage mum.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Oakwood) 05/03/09
Perhaps the grandparent was delighted at the birth of his grandchild. Tom Harris displays a reactionary arrogance to the subject that is backward and quite awful for a man in his position, he stigmatises and blames society’s victims, and he is in the wrong party IMO.

I suppose that accepting that the teenager and her child have rights is a step forward, well done.

Stewart Cowan said...

Perhaps Mr Harris finally realises how much damage New Labour has done to the country and wants to try and make amends.

What's your answer, Councillor? More benefits, more condoms, more medications, more laws, more tuition fees?

Since when was the Labour Party about keeping an underclass provided for?

The clue is in your party's name. Where's the work? Shouldn't Labour have looked at ways of providing real jobs in the last 12 years?

(Council jobsworths snooping on us and diversity officers do not count as real jobs, by the way.)

It seems Tom Harris is (perhaps) awakening, so there is always hope for all people in the LibLabConNat Party.

In the meantime, you just have to hope that the underclass don't also waken up and understand who it was that put them there!


Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 17:49
Agreed - I have blogged about these matters before and I am opposed to these proposals, I also oppose many other ‘security’ initiatives that the Govt. supports.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Stewart Cowan) 20:29

“What's your answer, Councillor? More benefits, more condoms, more medications, more laws, more tuition fees”
Answer – better education & better sex education – better & more proper jobs – more training for jobs – better and more affordable housing – equal rights for women – less power to rich bankers and financial crooks – no more wars – free beer etc. etc. thank you for asking.

Now Mr.Alf Garnett get back to reading your Sun paper; and take Mr. Harris with you.

Stewart Cowan said...

Thank you for replying, Cllr.

“Answer – better education & better sex education”

So more condoms, then, and the phone number of Brook to arrange an abortion.

Are you aware how many people with ulterior motives act as advisors to the government? Reps from the FPA and Brook, for example, whose existence depends upon a conveyor belt of dysfunctional youngsters.

“better & more proper jobs”


“better and more affordable housing”

Your Party has had a dozen rotations around the sun.

“equal rights for women”

Please see my comments on this thread.

“less power to rich bankers and financial crooks”

We could have an agreement there! Do Brown and Darling count as financial crooks?

“no more wars”

I hate to point out the obvious, but, erm, your Party is the perfect war machine. Make trouble when there is none to satisfy US corporate greed.

“free beer etc.”

Like paying a fortune for it doesn’t cause enough problems. I received detox treatment at Dykebar by the way (1998). They probably saved my life. It was a very busy place indeed. Now I run a successful business.

“thank you for asking.”

Not at all.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Stewart Cowan) 16:17

Your reaction to the “free beer” comment clearly indicates that you haven’t a clue; perhaps the detox wasn’t all that successful.

Stewart Cowan said...

Your comment is a despicable, ignorant, cowardly attack on someone who has overcome serious problems in life.

And you criticise Harris, you hypocrite.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Stewart Cowan) 16:42

Well Well, you don’t seem to mind dishing it out do you? Particularly to those horrible single mothers right.

Perhaps they could show you what really serious problems in life are, you hypocrite.

Stewart Cowan said...

I don't think single mothers are 'horrible' as a group. I feel sorry for them, trapped in their limbo world.

That is a world away from actually condoning the encouragement of immorality and the breakdown of family life, so successfully engineered by New Labour.

You appear to be someone who would rather hurl abuse than debate.

I guess it's all you have left if you are trying to defend New Labour.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

I’m not hurling abuse but, you seem to be trying to find the courage to say something, ‘encouraging immorality’ ‘breakdown of family life’ ‘So more condoms, then’ ‘and the phone number of Brook to arrange an abortion’ hostility to ‘FPA and Brooks’

There are lots of people who profess to be pro female equality, as long as women do as they are told, usually by people who would beat you to death with their bible.

And you a reformed sinner as well, am I getting close?

Did you also know that Mr. Harris MP is a fine upstanding Christian?

Stewart Cowan said...

Hello Cllr Kelly,

You took the P out of my alcoholism, which stung. One of the positives about having been a drunk for a decade is that it is hard to be judgmental about others. That doesn't mean you should accept everything that others do. If everyone had accepted my alcoholism, I would have been dead years ago.

I'm not pro-feminist. Men and women are complementary, not equal. I say this in praise of women.

"people who would beat you to death with their bible"???

Big fan of the Gay Police Association? They tried that one and got a bashing from Advertising Standards.

I am still a sinner, which is why I need my sins washed away by the blood of Christ. Indeed, Mr Harris claims to be a Christian too. Maybe he is starting to act on it by exposing the unchristian nature of New Labour and the resulting damage this is doing to the fabric of society.

I think that all the main parties shoulder some blame.

I presume from your name that you may just be of the RC persuasion.

Are you able to justify 200,000 abortions a year and bucketloads of condoms to any schoolchild who asks?

I am genuinely intrigued.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Stewart Cowan) 13:44

“You took the P out of my alcoholism”

No I didn’t; what stung was my pointing out to you the tragedy of some of the lives that these young girls live, something to put your own hard times into perspective.

“I'm not pro-feminist. Men and women are complementary, not equal. I say this in praise of women”

I am pro feminist; I assume that when you say that men and women are not equal you are saying that men are superior, is that the case? Some individuals are superior to others in certain ways but sex has nothing to do with it, you need to catch up with the world.

“"people who would beat you to death with their bible"???”

Absolutely – ‘The God of Wrath brigade’; ‘an eye for an eye’; that mob. ‘Homosexuality is an illness and a sin’; that crowd of poisonous bigots, most of them as far away from Christianity as it’s possible to get.

“unchristian nature of New Labour”

I wonder which political party is close to your religious values then; care to tell us. I wonder if Gordon Brown knows about Labour being unchristian.

Yes; your reliance on the west of Scotland’s traditional sectarianism serves you well I am a Catholic but I’m not sure the Church would want to advertise that fact.

“Are you able to justify 200,000 abortions a year and bucketloads of condoms to any schoolchild who asks”

One of the strengths of the Catholic Church is it’s belief in the sanctity of life and it’s also it’s biggest headache; I have no hesitation in saying that condoms restrict the spread of aids and other diseases which of course preserves the “sanctity of life” and when it comes to abortion I know that if someone dear to me was in a life threatening position and an abortion was recommended I would have no hesitation in saying yes do it, wouldn’t you?

You see, even if I was wrong; I would still be acting in good faith and if there is a God and if I ever get to meet him/her I am confident that she/he would forgive me.

I’ll give you my standard Galileo lecture but I have my doubts about whether it will work. Hundreds of years ago the great scientific genius Galileo said that the Earth went round the Sun; the Church believed that the Earth was the centre of the universe and the Sun and everything else went round the Earth. The Pope summoned Galileo and had him shown round the state of the art torture chambers in the Vatican and Galileo changed his mind. I wonder if Pope Benedict; the present incumbent sides with Galileo now and; for that matter do you, how about Darwin? How about burning bushes and parting seas, what do you think? I’m intrigued.

susan said...

The condemnation and stigma attached to single mothers is only contributing to the many problems they already face. I am sure the majority of these young women are not entirely happy with the situation they are in, what they really need is support and the incentive to better their lives and the lives of their children.

There are opportunities available in terms of gaining further/higher education however, the financial incentive to embark on these are just not good enough.

I am a single mother with 2 children and have been since I was a teenager. I am in the latter stages of completing an Honours degree. My children and I are still suffering financial hardship and I am in excess of £20,000 worth of student debt. I know I now have a very bright future ahead of me and my children will eventually have a better quality of life however, many single parents are unlikely to look this far ahead and immediate incentives to embark on education would further enhance these opportunities.

I have experienced my fair share of condemnation over the years and have on many occasions had to overcome the stigma of being a young single mother. All this does is reduces the confidence of already vulnerable young women, and makes it less likely that they will have the drive and confidence to embark upon new things.

To those who have condemned single parents - Never judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes......It is unlikely you would last more than a day.


Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(susan) 16:00

“The condemnation and stigma attached to single mothers is only contributing to the many problems they already face”

Susan; thank you for writing;
It was not that long ago that single mothers were being locked away and their children taken from them; simply for not being married, this happened regularly in my parent’s time, some would no doubt take us back there.

For too many young single mothers today the arrival of a child is the end of their aspirations, by the time they realise that they want to make a new start beginning with education they find that the system makes it impossible for them to succeed.

Some like you; to your credit manage to do it but; you will know better than me just how tough that is and the barriers that you find in your way, I regard this as a major scandal.

When a young girl finds herself in such a situation she should be supported and encouraged to make a decent future for her and her child, not attacked by moralising chauvinists like Tom Harris MP. I am mightily embarrassed by the fact that he is a Labour MP; God help the vulnerable in society with people like him making laws.

Allan said...


I think that we should differentiate between two things here. Single mother's, when they face awkward and testing situations, for example women abandoned by their partners, deserve all the help that they need. A lot of single mothers get on with their lives, and try to continue with their lives with as much dignity as possible. It is these people who should be shown up as examples.

However, what Tom Harris, and myself in my own blog were targeting were teenage mothers who are perfectly happy to see motherhood as a career choice, perfectly happy to hoover up benefits, and happy to use any excuse possible not to put something back into the pot. For these people, their role models are the WAG's, who seem to do nothing all day but shop and use up hubby's credit card.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Allan) 18:23

My your a real hard case aren’t you Allan; targeting single mothers, You, Peter Lilley, Tom Harris, Alf Garnett and the editors of the Sun and Mail, what a team, you are a caricature and a most unpleasant one at that.

What about prison for unmarried mums, I can see you salivating, what about flogging, you would volunteer to do it wouldn’t you Allan, once you’ve done that you could get the trains to run on time.

Allan said...

At least i'm not defending the lazy poor, the drug dealers, the alcoholics and other members of our society who take without giving back.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Allan) 14/03/09

I think we’ve got the picture; you are a right wing vigilante right? completely fearless in print. I’m attacking the causes of the situation, you are an empty drum banging on about retaliation, you make yourself feel better by talking tough, pathetic really.