#Harriet Harman was invited to contribute a piece titled ‘If I ruled the world’. She began her article by writing that she wanted to ban politicians from “going on about how important marriage is and how damaging divorce is”. She is no stranger to controversy and cannot have been surprised at the storm of criticism that has followed the publication of her thoughts. Her comments were swiftly condemned by both the media and fellow politicians. The Daily Mail going so far as to publish an editorial which accused Harman of ‘continuing her long war against marriage and traditional families’. The newspaper went on to remind their readers that “far from ministers ‘going on’ about marriage,” as Harman claimed, marriage barely features in our national debate.

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Harman's views not based on facts

Harman's fellow politicians also responded to Her remarks with incredulity. The former Welfare Secretary Iain Duncan Smith described her words as “unbelievable” and went on to say that Harman's comments demonstrate that “she does not base anything she says on facts.”

Iain Duncan Smith has long taken an interest in this area. As far back as 2004 he established the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), which in the past has produced research highlighting the importance for children of marriage and a stable family environment. The CSJ found that by the age of five, 48% of children in low-income households were not living with both parents. This figure contrasts sharply with higher income families where the number drops to 16% of children surviving without both parents at home.

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Fathers are a 'crucial pillar' of the family

The CSJ spoke out last month saying that fathers should be thought of a “crucial pillar” in the lives of children and not a “dispensable extra”. The CSJ’s Chief Executive Andy Cook has spoken of the “meteoric rise” in the breakdown of #Family Life” which Britain has witnessed in recent years, and how this has particularly affected vulnerable children. The Prime Minister Theresa May, has also recently involved herself in the family life debate when she noted the valuable work carried out by faith communities in working with vulnerable children.

In her article Harman does acknowledge that “It benefits children to have a strong relationship with both mother and father”, and also says “We all have a big stake in the next generation being brought up successfully”, this is a statement with which Iain Duncan Smith and the Centre for Social Justice would also agree.