What will the Coalition be remembered for? Resolving the home-grown Jihadi crisis? Reforming the National Health Service? Turning British children into the best educated in the world?
Sadly not, I fear.
No, its lasting legacy will be getting gay marriage on the statute book and turning the UK into a uni-sex society.
Yes, in case you missed it, they have already abolished maternity leave and expunged the word from the government dictionary. From 5 April next year couples can look forward to the joys of splitting up to 50 weeks of something now called ‘Shared Parental Leave‘ any way they want. “You decide what works best for you and your child”, it kindly advises.
The Business Department, it seems, must regret offering the option and has decided to leave nothing to chance. No doubt guided by their resident teenage Minister, the young and new mum (not that that’s got in the way of her career) Jo Swinson, they’ve decided to clarify their exhortation to make no mistake about the Government’s intention.
In a risible, if it were not so sickening, advertising campaign, one reminiscent of Stalin’s USSR, dad and mum are made interchangeable on the baby-feeding front.
‘Parental leave – how will you share yours?’ is the new ‘splash’ above dancing pink and blue baby bottles. And very sweet they are too! Here it comes, Big Brother calling all mums out there. “Mums can end their maternity leave after two weeks” is its excited announcement. Rejoice! What liberation! What more could women ask for?
Yes, split it with dad any way you like. Dads can be the new mum! Never mind mum’s or baby’s health.
Don’t you worry you feminists out there. You can rely on our wonderful modern Coalition to put ideology before biology. All those inconvenient plans to encourage breast-feeding have been superceded thanks to the Business Department’s expertise on all matters maternal.
Don’t worry about the NHS’s ‘bribe to breast-feed’ policy it began to pilot last year to counter the country’s startling low rates. That’s just for those single mums who don’t go to work anyway. And don’t bother about the fact only 34 per cent of British babies are still breast-fed at six months, or that just one per cent only receive breast-milk by this stage. It’s pretty disgusting that women should be subjected to that anyway.
Frankly all this rot that breast-feeding protects the health of babies and mothers and reduces the risk of illness can be ignored. I know that the NHS blathers on about breast milk being the best form of nutrition for infants, and exclusive breast-feeding is recommended for the first six months of an infant’s life, but you can forget all that now.
Its about time they removed all that patriarchal stuff about breast-feeding continuing for as long as the mother and baby wish from the Department of Health website. Anyway it’s impossible now if we can go back to work after two weeks and make the men stay at home.
Yes, all that sensible health advice put out by the NHS can be chucked in the bin.
Except, ur, for Ms Swinson, of course, who clamoured to drag her benighted baby into work and to breast-feed it in Parliament.
Ah, so she must be well aware of the facts after all: that infants who are not breast-fed are more likely to have infections in the short term such as gastroenteritis, respiratory and ear infections, and particularly infections requiring hospitalisation.
That infants who are not breast-fed are more likely to become obese in later childhood, more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, and tend to have slightly higher levels of blood pressure and blood cholesterol in adulthood.
I could go on but I won’t. Suffice it to say the Coalition appears devoid of common sense or compassion. It is not rocket science. Newborn babies need and want their mothers. It is not the Government’s business to be encouraging otherwise in the name of their ignorant and oppressive equality agenda.
Nor is it their job to risk women’s as well as babies’ health. For breast-feeding reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancers – as the Government states elsewhere on its websites and rightly so.
Why, the Business Department might ask itself, does the NHS offer mothers a post-natal check at six weeks, a full month after the two weeks the Government is now telling women they can return to work? It is for good reason – six weeks is the minimum time it takes to recover from the impact of labour on a woman’s body. And the body of a woman who does not breast-feed recovers more slowly.
As my colleague Laura Perrins has pointed out elsewhere this policy turns women into mere baby incubators. It is also inhuman and barbaric to not give enough recovery time before returning to paid work. This, as she says, is not progress; this is medieval.
So what next? Will the Coalition bother to try to square their conflicting advice? I wonder. Maybe it will it be to give fathers hormones to encourage them to produce milk. Maybe it will be to force companies to install breast milk expressing machines?
Nothing would surprise me.