Not Saussure

March 10, 2007

David Cameron on marriage

Filed under: Politics — notsaussure @ 2:45 am

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?

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    Pingback by Business Tax Forms » David Cameron on marriage — March 10, 2007 @ 12:46 pm

  2. I would have *thought* he’s saying that there’s all these couples out there who are providing stable, loving homes, and caring for their children, but are selfishly neglecting to get the piece of paper saying ‘married’ on it and are instead (shock! horror!) *living in sin*.

    After all if they don’t get the piece of paper, the female parents turn up in the ‘unmarried mothers’ statistics, and thus causing the country to go to hell in a handbasket.

    They therefore must be bribed more in order to encourage them to stop selfishly prioritising the substance of marriage over the form of it. The Platonic Forms must be obeyed!

    A very Tory stance, I guess. If rather a baffling thing to make a priority.

    However, the ‘split up’ bit makes me think this is possibly not what he is driving at, and I have it all wrong…


    Comment by Skapusniak — March 13, 2007 @ 6:22 pm

  3. If you found this blog entry interesting you will like “Is the Marriage Bed-Rocking?”

    Comment by Rob Abdul — March 14, 2007 @ 12:36 pm

  4. Note to readers: I almost deleted Mr Abdul’s comment as spam, but checked the website, and it’s not a spam site at all.

    Skapusniak, I think it’s more complex than you suggest. The worry is, as I understand it, not so much about parents who’re unmarried as parents who aren’t living together, and apparently cohabiting couples with children are far more likely to split up than are married couples.

    I took this to mean that people who plan to stay together are more likely to get married than are people who’re less committed to the relationship long-term. Provide financial incentives to get married, and I’m sure you will increase the number of people getting married who wouldn’t otherwise so do. I’m equally sure, though, that many of them, some years down the line, will decide it really isn’t working and all the grief isn’t worth the tax incentives, so we’ll see more divorces.

    Meanwhile, you’re spending pots of money on giving tax incentives to people to get married when they want to get married, anyway, for reasons that have nothing to do with money.

    I now learn that Mr Cameron proposes to fund these tax incentives from his airline taxes, which’ll be nice for the married couples because that’ll mean they can still afford that extra holiday out of the extra taxes widowers like me will have to pay when we go on holiday.

    Comment by notsaussure — March 14, 2007 @ 1:17 pm

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