Sunday, 28 February 2010
The on-off marriage tax bribe is on again.... at least for the moment
So now it's on again... you know the on-off marriage tax break that Cameron has been wittering about and dithering over, like so many other things that the Tories have been dithering over...
After calculating the dreadful plight in which he finds himself and desperate to do something to buoy up his troops at the Spring Conference, he fell back on the old favourite. When in doubt with the Tories, promise to introduce tax breaks for getting married.
It is reckoned that it will cost in the region of £3.5 billion a year, money which, of course we don’t have. And exactly what will it do for the country?
Will some Tory please, please tell me what good will come of subsidising marriage? What will it do for Scotland? Will it bring down crime? Will it deal with immigration? Will it stop Scottish soldiers being killed in Afghanistan? Will it sort out the corruption, greed and inefficiency that is parliament, local authorities, health boards, the BBC, the banks, the whole financial system, the legal profession? Will it help to reduce the gap that Labour has made between rich and poor? Will it sort the transport system that is the laughing stock of Europe? Will it do something to improve the roads, also the laughing stock of the western world? Will it make any difference to old people being abused and maltreated in homes all over the country in order to make a profit?
Nope. It will please a few activists and prove that the Tories are still the party of traditional values, even though this policy is somewhat at odds with the notion that it’s a party that doesn’t believe in interfering with the ways that people live their lives.
The money will go largely to people who would have got married anyway; people who can afford the divorce lawyers when it all goes wrong. If it is a substantial tax break (or bribe as I prefer to call it) it will go too, to some people who will get married especially so that they can lay their hands on it. The very poorest of course will get nothing, as they don’t earn enough to pay much in the way of tax to have rebated. Some of them will stay together; some will pocket the money and get on with the business of their lives quite separately, but with an extra tenner a week in their pockets. Some pensioners with a couple of million in the bank will be bribed to stay married.
And the taxpayer will be stuffed again. Still it will be music to the ears of some of the party faithful and that's something that Cameron really needs right now.
I hope they realise that something will have to go to pay for it. I just hope it isn’t a cut in rations for the other ranks in Afghanistan.