David Cameron, speaking to Scottish Tories, described by the Indy as defending his plans for married couples’ tax breaks (not that one would have thought the plans needed much defence before such an audience):
This week, Gordon Brown put himself on the wrong side of this vital debate. We know that his policies have penalised marriage. Thanks to his tax and benefit rules, many couples with children are better off if they split up.
Instead of recognising this mistake, he’s simply compounded it. He put himself on the side of the old-fashioned individualism that’s all about me-me-me.
What children need in the fast-changing modern world is the strength, the stability, the confidence that comes from a loving home with two parents caring for them. I will never be frightened of saying these things.
I can’t quite work this one out. He seems to be saying that there are all these parents out there who would, all things being equal, be providing stable, loving homes and caring for their children but are deciding to split up — doubtless regretfully, but what’s the point of paying accountants if you don’t take their advice — because it’ll improve their tax situation so to do.
If he’s not saying that, what is he saying?
Or, to turn it round, many people think that staying together ‘for the sake of the children’ in a marriage that really isn’t working is probably not, all things considered, a particularly good idea for anyone. Surely staying together ‘for the sake of the tax advantages’ is even worse.
The Book Of Common Prayer tells us that holy Matrimony
is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.
Nowhere does it mention the financial advantages. Neither does Catholic doctrine, nor does that of any denomination or faith of which I’m aware.
If he wants to promise tax cuts to marginal voters — or all voters — then good for him, but why be apologetic about it and dress up the idea in so unsuitable a trousseau?