Conservatives and the Married Couples’ Allowance
“£150?!” you splutter.
Along with the entire Leftist media.
And with some misguided ones on the Right.
But that is to miss the point.
Firstly, this Manifesto pledge tells you more about David Cameron: he is honouring a long-standing pledge to recognise marriage in the tax system.
He is a man of his word, even against the zeitgeist.
It would have been tempting (and rather easy) to kick this into the long grass, arguing quite simply that the country cannot afford it after 13 years of Labour’s economic mismanagement and the record national deficit.
Secondly, it is not the amount which actually matters: it is the fact that the State sends out a clear signal that it recognises the institution; it acknowledges family stability, commitment, binding contracts and vows made before God.
Of course Nick Clegg dismisses this as ‘patronising drivel that belongs in the Edwardian age’.
Of course there is almost universal derision from Labour because it ‘stigmatises’ or ‘discriminates against’ single parents and those who choose simply to cohabit.
But for too long those who are committed to the traditional family model have been stigmatised and discriminated against. It beggars belief that we have a tax and benefits system in the UK which actually makes it beneficial for parents to live apart.
Under the Conservative proposals, basic rate taxpayers will be allowed to transfer £750 of their personal allowance to a spouse or civil partner. Officials said the measure would benefit just under a third of the country's 12.3 million married couples with the less well off gaining the most.
Calculations by the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies suggested the cost of the measure would be around £550 million. That would be paid for out of the estimated £1 billion the party says would be raised from a levy on banks which Mr Cameron promised to implement last month. The rest would be used to reduce the cut the UK's £167 billion deficit.
Mr Cameron said: "I think it important that we recognise both marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system. I have said that is a commitment we are going to make for the parliament."
And even with the embracing of civil partnerships, Nick Clegg squawks that ‘David Cameron clearly has no idea about modern life’. "Every family is different,” he astutely observes, “and instead of creating rigid rules or special policies that help some families but not others, we need a new approach from government: one that is flexible and doesn't dictate to families how they should live."
If they bothered to examine, just for one moment, how marriage benefits children and how it contributes to the common good, they would understand why the State has a moral obligation to support the institution.
The Conservative Party does not have a monopoly on this kind of thinking, for it should be evident to politicians of all political persuasions and faiths that marriage is not an exclusively Judaeo-Christian institution; it is a union observed in all cultures, and seems, according to Aristotle, to exist by nature. Marriage in the Bible is essential for the functioning of society, and is the model used to explain the mystery of Christ’s relationship to the church (Eph 5:25-32). The Church of England ‘affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman’. This has its basis in the Old Testament, where YHWH says: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him’ (Gen 2:18). It continues: ‘for this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh’ (v24). Although these verses do not purport to define marriage, they do describe its origin, and are therefore crucial for understanding the Bible’s teaching on marriage.
There are three principal purposes for marriage arising out of v24: (i) the procreation of children; (ii) companionship, and (iii) sexual union. Marriage is a covenant before YHWH, which Jesus confirms with the phrase ‘God has joined together’ (Mt 19:26); when a person ‘leaves’ and ‘cleaves’. It is the erosion of this foundation which has contributed to ‘Breakdown Britain’.
The Conservatives see it.
Some Labour ministers see it.
But the ilLiberal unDemocrats are blind.
This really is a two-horse race.