Don’t judge my family

The Election campaign is in full swing over here in the UK. I’m personally rooting for the LibDems, and live in a LibDem constituency, although it’s a marginal seat with Plaid Cymru in second. But this is mainly background. What I want to talk about is a piece of legislation that the Conservative party have pleged if they get into power.
It’s a Marriage Tax Break. It will allow married couple to transfer a certain amount of their tax free allowance to their partner, and can save upto £150 a year. But it only works if one person isn’t using their full tax allowance. Which means they aren’t working, or as good as.
This is the line that bothers me most:

This is a progressive tax measure, with two thirds of the benefits going to families in the lower half of the income distribution.

Bolding mine. Now, you might wonder why this bothers me. A married couple is a family, I hear you cry. Yes, yes it is. But the background and justification for this tax?

Mr Cameron pointed out that a third of unmarried couples have separated by the time a child reaches its fifth birthday, compared to one in 11 for married couples.

He added: “I would like to do more. But we are in very straitened circumstances, so I see this as a first step, and it’s about the message more than the money.”

See that? That there is assuming the married couple has a child. Yes, a marriage is a family, but in David ‘Call me Dave’ Cameron’s world, it also equals children. This policy is also extended to civil partnerships (currently only gay people are allowed to get a civil union, but not married-a post for another time), but that was only mentioned recently. If I was a cynic, I’d point out that it was only made clear that this was also extended to civil partnerships after Consertative MP Chris Grayling decided to side with a Christian B&B owner who turned away a gay couple. But that would make me a cynic.

Now I’ve got distracted again… Ahh, yes. Children.
Even if you believe that having married parents is better for children (which has been studied) this tax break is still not good enough. Especially when the Conservatives are talking about cutting child benefits, and funding to Sure Start centres, a much needed resource for parents and children alike. It won’t benefit the poorest of familes, who don’t make enough money to pay tax, it only really benefits single income families.

Cynic time again: If this can be seen as encouring anything, it would be stay at home parenting (and given how bigoted and privileged the Conservatives can be: stay at home mums. Get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich, woman!*)

There is also the line: It’s more about the message than the money. Now, it’s Not Cameron’s fault he’s a middle-class man who’s been quite privalised. It really isn’t. But, for those people he claims to want to help, to poorest people, it’s about the money. It really is. As if something like this is so far out of his worldview that he can’t see how this isn’t a good move, then I don’t want that man in charge of my country.

* Of course, having one parent stay at home is a valid choice. And sometimes, it’s not a choice. And I understand that, and I respect choice, and understand the need. I do, I come from a family where, if my parents were married, they’d probably benefit from this. But it ignores and possibly harms more people than it helps, and, I’m not saying it will encourage marriage – all reports say that it won’t – but as Cameron says: it’s the message. And I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this message.


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