On Tuesday this week Harriet Harman was in the city, to launch Labour's document "Your Family, Your Choice", which highlights the real differences between Tory and Labour policies on the family. She came to the Gatehouse Centre in Hartcliffe, which I'd not visited before, it being in Dawn Primarolo's patch, but they seem to be doing excellent work with children, parents and grandparents, offering support, fostering aspirations, and giving practical help and advice as needed. Their website takes a long time to load, but here's the link: www.hwv.org.uk.
One of the things the visit highlighted was something I've blogged about on here many times before. Most families aren't nuclear families. I had a really good conversation with a grandmother who has her grandchild living with her. I wasn't at all surprised to learn of the bureaucratic obstacles she'd had to face when she'd first assumed responsibility for the child. (This issue, of informal adoption, and how we can better help the adopters and the children in such circumstances is also something I've raised in Parliament, in the context of the welfare of children of prisoners).
While I'm on the topic of families, a campaign has been launched in protest at the Tory's plans to introduce a Married Couple's Tax Allowance. The site - Don't Judge my Family - lists all those categories of people who wouldn't benefit from the Tory tax move, including single parents, the widowed or those who have left an abusive relationship. The Tories themselves admit that the amounts involved are not much of an incentive for anyone to get married, but that it's about 'sending out a signal' that marriage is best. As the campaign says, this is not just judgmental, it's also highly offensive to many people. And it reflects a very conservative, old-fashioned view of marriage, in that it only kicks in if one partner in the marriage doesn't go out to work. So much for Cameron the moderniser.
Finally on the same topic, an absolutely brilliant article by JK Rowling. A must read.