PM urged to apologise after he brands single mothers 'irresponsible'

Boris Johnson is urged to apologise after 1995 magazine column in which he brands single mothers ‘irresponsible’ and working-class men ‘drunk, criminal and feckless’ resurfaces

  • In Spectator, Johnson described working class men as ‘aimless’ and ‘hopeless’
  • He also called children of single mothers ‘ignorant’, ‘aggressive’ and ‘ill-raised’
  • Gingerbread, a charity, said his description of single parents was ‘thoughtless’
  • Labour’s Shami Chakrabarti said Mr Johnson’s views were from the ‘dark ages’

Boris Johnson has been urged to apologise after a 1995 magazine column in which he branded single mothers ‘irresponsible’ and working-class men ‘drunk, criminal and feckless.’

Writing in the Spectator, Mr Johnson also described British men as ‘useless’ and the children of single mothers as ‘a generation of ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate children.’

Mr Johnson also criticised the ‘appalling proliferation of single mothers’ and blamed successive Tory and Labour governments for ‘failing to restrict the public emoluments available to this group.’

Boris Johnson, sits in his London office reading the anniversary issue of The Spectator when he edited the magazine between 1999 and 2005

The PM, who was the assistant editor of the Daily Telegraph at the time, also suggested social housing was ‘an enticement’ for young women to have children.

Gingerbread, a charity that advocates on behalf of single parents, told The Times: ‘Boris Johnson’s past description of single parents is wrong.’ 

‘His stereotyping is a thoughtless and inaccurate characterisation of almost 2 million people. Single-parent families are part of mainstream life in the UK, with one in four families headed by a single parent. 

‘Employment rates for single parents are at a record high, with almost 70 per cent of single parents working in spite of the lack of flexible work and high cost of childcare.’

Boris Johnson during a visit to the Healeys Cornish Cyder Farm, near Truro in Cornwall, whilst on the General Election campaign trail on Wednesday this week

Mr Johnson goes on to say the blame for it all rests with the ‘modern British male.’

He adds: ‘If he is blue collar, he is likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hope- less, and perhaps claiming to suffer from low self-esteem brought on by unemployment. 

‘If he is white collar, he is likely to be little better.’

Labour’s Ian Lavery, an ex-miner, told the Daily Mirror: ‘These are outrageous remarks from a man out of touch with reality and whose ignorance and hatred of working-class communities knows no bounds.

Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s shadow attorney general, described Mr Johnson’s comments as ‘straight out of the dark ages’

In the controversial piece, Mr Johnson also calls for cuts to benefits, saying that it would leave women in ‘destitution on a Victorian scale’ and this may stop unmarried women wanting children.

He adds: ‘Something must be found, first, to restore women’s desire to be married. 

‘That means addressing the feebleness of the modern Briton, his reluctance or inability to take control of his woman and be head of a household. 

‘Perhaps the problem really is economic: that he feels depressed and emasculated by the state’s superior ability and willingness to provide for his womenfolk.’

Shami Chakrabarti, Labour’s shadow attorney general, told HuffPost: ‘Someone whose attitudes towards women are straight out of the dark ages is not fit to be prime minister of our country.’


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