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.