Did John Redwood attack single mothers as Welsh Secretary?

The following letter was sent to the Western Mail yesterday in resposne to an article by journalist Tryst Williams, who asserted that John Redwood once launched “swivel eyed… hate filled invective” against single mothers in Cardiff. This is a myth Labour have been keen to propagate, with Polly Toynbee accusing him of launching a “campaign of blame” against single mothers, and Peter Hain accusing him of “savagely attacking” them. As John explains below, this is far from reality:

Letters to the Editor
The Western Mail – Media Wales
6 Park Street
Cardiff CF10 1XR

20th April 2009


I was surprised to read that Tryst Williams thinks I once delivered a “swivel eyed… hate filled invective” against single mothers in Cardiff (“Mind Matters”, The Western Mail, 18th April).

During my two years as Welsh Secretary I only raised the subject of single parents once, when I made the case that absent fathers should be asked to make a financial contribution towards their children in situations where they are not living with their families. This stance has now been accepted as common sense by all three major political parties, and I am surprised that the myths about such an uncontroversial speech are still so widely believed.

It might be helpful if Mr. Williams was to actually read what I said about single mothers. I said: “Everyone would wish to help the young family that has suddenly lost their father through death, or if the mother has been badly abused or badly treated by the father and the relationship has broken down”. I went on to say that if no relationship between the mother and father were possible, the state should pursue the father – not the mother. I said: “It would be better for the child, better for the family, and better for the state if more fathers assumed their natural responsibilities”.

I appreciate Mr. Williams may be a sensitive soul but I think even my biggest detractors would be hard pressed to accept his description of the above as “swivel eyed… hate filled invective”.

Yours, etc,

You can read more (factual) information about this here, and anyone who wants to see a copy of John’s speech from the 2nd July 1993 should contact his office at the usual address.


  1. mikestallard
    April 21, 2009

    Do you know what? At the gym today, I was listening intently to Jeremy Kyle. A thin man who hadn’t shaved was sitting, looking mean, next to a rather nice looking, rather unkempt lady. They had, apparently, got drunk, and, although she was having sex with at least two other men, she was sure that the drunken clinch which happened was the moment that their son had been conceived. She was determined, however, that the putative father could only see her child when she was in a good mood because she wanted to be there to see that her baby wasn’t harmed.
    Question: who was the father?
    Well, it happened to be the unshaven man.
    So that’s all right then.
    They were sent for Counselling with a “genius”.
    Every time I watch Jeremy Kyle, I see stuff like this.
    Every time I drive up the road to our quiet working class estate I see stuff like this.
    Every time I open the paper, I see stuff like this.
    My own family lives like this – doesn’t yours too?

    It is no longer “naughty” to have a “fling”: it is now normal.
    And we are not allowed to discuss it because the Labour Party thinks that repression is a Bad Thing and that the Traditional Family is an agent of Fascism.
    Thank God I am not a child today, that’s all.
    And Jeremy Kyle was saying the very same thing.

  2. Apostate Guardianista
    April 21, 2009

    If Toynbee has a pop then you can automatically assume you’re right.

  3. alan jutson
    April 22, 2009

    Pleased you keep a record of all of your speeches John.
    Those who attempt to smear people by taking a little part of anything, out of context and then exaggerating it should pay the price of embaressment, but often do not.
    Those who live by the comment should die by the comment, but unfortunately any retraction or correction is never given the same air time/page spread, as the original.
    Its simply another attempt to smear, used as a distraction from the real problems we have.
    What a shame that Politics has sunk so low.
    Do you dispare as much as we do at this sort of thing, or do you simply regard it as part of being an MP and accept that it will continue to go on, and you deal with it as best you can.

    Reply: I am intrigued that Labour think it worth exhuming these very old smears. Clearly I am doing somehting to upset them. I think in the current climate their smears do them damage.

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