Family breakdown

April 08, 2010, 8:05 PM GMT+0

Many believe that family life is deteriorating and that the Conservative party, and David Cameron in particular, promises the highest hope of salvaging its value, a survey for the Sun suggests.

72% of the British public believe there has been a breakdown of family life in recent years and 82% of those feel that the loss of a sense of community is symptomatic of the deterioration. Many feel that drug problems (64%), binge drinking (62%) and crime (61%) have increased as a result and 53% apiece think that higher unemployment rates and poor education levels represent further evidence of the breakdown in family life. Of those with children under 18, the threat of violence (71%), unemployment (65%) and drug addiction (54%) were some of their greatest fears they had for their children.

When asked where they would place the blame for the breakdown they see, 53% blame ‘the pace and pressures of modern life’, followed by 43% who cite the Labour Government’s benefit system. 29% blamed the decline of religion.

And if these substantial results point to a public that is anxious to emphasise the importance of family life, we can expect this consideration to weigh on the mind of the nation when the polls open next month. In particular, it seems that David Cameron’s Conservative party may profit most from this issue, as 32% believe that the Conservative party stand up for ‘the right kind of family values’, against 17% for Labour and a mere nine percent for the Liberal Democrats. David Cameron was also singled out as the best example of a ‘family man’ among the party leaders – 37% think this of the Tory leader, compared to 27% and four percent for Brown and Clegg respectively.

Indeed, when it comes to family, it seems that the Tories’ focus on the promise of a tax break for married couples has a significant proportion of the public behind them. However, the issue remains contentious: 43% believe the tax break will help create a more stable society, but 40% think that it would ‘make no difference’ and 36% of all adults feel that the marital status of parents doesn’t matter ‘as long as children grow up in a safe and loving home’.
As for role models for this perceived ideal home, Conservative couple David and Samantha Cameron came top of the list, at 21%, followed by Labour leader and his wife, Gordon and Sarah Brown at 19%. But in a line-up of choices that included David and Victoria Beckham, OK Magazine favourite Katie Price and the notoriously dysfunctional Royal Family, this is perhaps unsurprising.

Whatever the ideal, it would seem that family life, and its place within society, will be one of the key issues on the electorate’s minds come May 6th.

For survey details and full results, please click here