Tuesday 5 January 2010


The Tories today appeared to wobble on their commitment to subsidise marriage. Mr Cameron was forced to guarantee tax breaks for married people if he wins the election, having previously downgraded his pledge to an aspiration because of the parlous state of the economy. It is unclear what he will do, the cost, or how he will fund it. The original plans were estimated to cost £5 billion a year.

First of all, let me say I am a believer in the family. In my opinion there is no more stable or better way for children to be raised than in a family unit: Mum, Dad, and 2 children, a dog and goldfish, living in a nice house with a garden, with enough space that when they start to grow up there will be room to entertain their friends, situated in a pleasant area with good schools and so on. Ideally of course, neither of the parents should drink to excess, nor should they smoke, do drugs, have affairs, or rows, or leave the kids unattended, etc. Whilst many of these things may not be available to the average family in Scotland, of them all, the family is the most important. I’d love it if every kid could have that start in life.

I believe too that the state has a role in our society. It should provide absolutely necessary services to our communities: health, water, power, education, housing for those who need it, etc. I also think that we should pay for some of these services through the tax system. I’m not, however, keen on the state interfering in the day to day life of individuals. I imagined the Tories would have been equally sceptical of this.

I understand that the family represents tradition: the “back to basics” that Mr Major was so fond of. But I worry about this method of encouraging us into it. Today marriage, tomorrow church services, to make us better citizens?

The truth is that, unless a couple has children, what on earth has it to do with the state how they chose to live as long as it does not break the law? Unless Cameron has been imposed upon by Daily Mail readers I can’t see why he proposes to use our taxes to do this.

I can of course understand that the ideal life for kids described above may have to be subsidised by taxpayers, but not, for example, two people working in high power jobs, who have no time, and no inclination to have children or to interrupt their careers. Why would we subsidise that?

Of course, some people may well decide to pop down to the registrars and get themselves a certificate worth a subsidy of £500 - £1,000 a year. Who cares if they stay together for more than a year; who cares if they even live together at all? How will we know?


  1. So will the look again at fox hunting come before or after this? I take for granted that another look at the constitutional settlement for Scotland will come after, long after.

  2. The constitutional settlement for Scotland is not particularly in the Tories' interests. I guess it will happen when they get the important stuff sorted for England.

  3. I believe couples should be encouraged to live together particularly if children are involved. However you'd need a major seed change in society to try and get marriages on the up and up. The religious aspects have all but vanished from todays secular society and only anachronistic elements in minority groups such as Islam and Judaism where other factors are involved to keep them together appear to work.

    That said, I'm not married I just happen to live with a lovely lady and £1000 sounds nice at the minute.

  4. QM: It may be that if the tax break is good enough, many people will go for it. It won't affect the poor, low wage people, they don't pay enough in tax to get the benefit.

    I know quite a few couples who are still married but ceased to live with each other years ago. They have other partners, the kids live with people other than their parents. But they would still be entitled to the money because they are married.

    I don't mind my taxes going to subsidise the care of children, but I am very much against them being used to enrich couples. That to my mind is the state interfering every bit as much as Brown and his snooping cameras.

    Congratulations with your lovely lady. :-) If you are happy with her, that's worth an awful lot more than the £1000.

    You are right about the religious aspect, but, as I said in my post, it may be that the government will feel that if we all just spent an hour in church of a Sunday morning then Britain would pretty soon get fixed up....

  5. Like fox hunting for the English elite? That is more important to the Tories than a fair deal for Scotland. What did Cameron say about respecting the Scots? I assume he meant until he got elected then?

    This family affair seems to, similarly, be one of those occasions where the Tories will say anything to get elected. Clearly their dalliance with the truth at conference time did not pay the divedends they thought. So they are back to sending out mixed messages in the hope the each side will hear the part it wants to hear and not employ joined up thinking.

  6. Fox hunting for the English elite isn't a priority, it's a free vote, no whips and may even be lost (not all Tories like fox hunting) But it keeps Cameron alongside the hunting lobby who'll vote for him as no-one else will give them a say.

    It's basically a non issue.

  7. QM: Maybe so, but it will take up parliamentary time and we were told that there was none available to discuss the Calman Commission's report, and implement its recommendations. These things matter to Scotland and the report had to be paid for out of the Scottish Parliament’s money, even though the English/Federal government chose the people on it.

    Clearly neither Brown nor Cameron thought that it would come up with all these extra powers for Edinburgh, and we all know that they hoped it would take some back. (Bang goes Calman’s seat in the Lords, or any more commissions to chair.) It cost us a lot of money and Cameron has said he’s far too busy with wars and the economy to bother about it. But clearly he’s not too busy with wars and the economy to get something in that will please his fox hunting buddies.

    I know it’s a free vote, but it will take up time that could be spent on something that OUR government has already invested a LOT of money in. Even Ms Goldie was enthusiastic about Calman until Cameron told her not to be, and since then we have heard no more about it. Doesn’t he think that we count for anything at all? Are we less important than his fox killing mates? Oh well, of course we are. We are only Scotland. The country that is there for the rich to shoot deer in and for the oil that has propped up the United Kingdom and its pretence at world power for the last 30 years.

    Sorry if I sound angry about this. I really don’t care if the English kill their foxes this way. It won’t affect Scotland, but I’d like some return on the money that came out of our budget to run this commission, backed by Goldie and Cameron. No wonder we want our freedom. We are treated like **** no matter which government gets in England

  8. Tris
    I'm still unsure of what Cameron will do when he wins power. I don't think I'm thick and I've carefully watched his interviews but it's still a mystery. The BBC have declared open season on him and if I was really bothered then I'd be annoyed at the bias they are giving to Labour. But it's just 'twa cheeks o the same erse 'as far as I can see with Labour and Tory. Both love the EU, immigration, global warming et al. And Alex is the same of course but with big nobs on.
    Oh did John Major call for ' back to basics' before or after he started sleeping with Edwina Currie behind Normas back ?

  9. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksJanuary 06, 2010 4:41 am

    Tris: I agree with every word you said about family and kids. At the same time, I think that slimy politicians (essentially all of them) should not use the tax code for social engineering. I had always considered Britain's slimy politicians to be generally superior to America's slimy politicians. But this marriage policy is right wing Republican stuff. (America's Republican Party I mean.) Madness!!!! IMHO. (But if my girlfriend and I ever go to the altar, I wouldn't mind receiving some money for it....LOL.)

    As for Fox Hunting. Is this REALLY a continuing political issue in England? Does anyone really want it back? Are there no more important issues for Parliament to consider?

    Nevertheless, the fox hunting ban should have shown the upper classes the importance of a written constitution. You put the really important stuff in a Bill of Rights that even a democratically elected Parliament cannot fiddle with.

  10. You would not believe it if it were not true, but the constitutional situation for Scotland was found to be wanting by a commission set up by the Unionist parties and populated by their placemen. It was trumpeted from the roof tops and announced to be the fairest thing in the world for Scotland and all the then leaders in Scotland and England (except the SNP) agreed and signed up big time. Then it reported! And suggested a whole pile of things that Scotland ought to get charge of to make it a fair constitutional settlement for the Scots. Well then you could not see the Unionists for dust; Labour played for time saying it would need to be discussed for a long, long, long time, I suppose in the hope that it would be somebody else’s problem soon enough (i.e. the Tories). The Tories played the: “the economy is in such a mess thanks to Labour, there will be no time to do anything else” card. Leaving oddly enough only the SNP (who did not want it in the first place) backing the commission.

    I guess the Tories hoped that that would explain the situation to the Scots and they would just accept it. But then they went on to try to reel in other would be supporters by issuing what seemed to be contradictory promises when looked at as a whole. In this case a promise to look at fox hunting again in the next parliament and give it a free vote. This I assume was intended to bring in the English elite who although a tiny minority (much less even than the Scots in the UK) still hanker after the good old days of tearing small mammals apart with a pack of hounds and rubbing blood in each others faces. It is only when you think of these things together do you see the dichotomy (and this is only one example) and begin to appreciate how the Scots are treated by the English parties at Westminster. This is why we need to be an independent country.

  11. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksJanuary 06, 2010 8:56 am

    A properly drawn constitution is to me a very good thing for an independent nation to have. But getting it right.....and reaching a consensus....seems to me would be something of a nightmare with today's competing commercial, political, and cultural interests.

    It was hard enough for the Americans in 1787 when they threw out their first constitution, The Articles of Confederation. The confederation of states had been a disaster, but deciding on the form of the new government was another matter. They finally approved the federal constitution as a draft of four handwritten pages (which obviously left lots of stuff to fill in later by legislative and judicial precedents.)

    Thomas Jefferson was in France and lobbied passionately from that great distance for a Bill of Rights. In the end, the federal constitution was drafted and approved with no such enumeration of rights. But some of the states, to Jefferson's great delight, only ratified it on condition that a Bill of Rights would be added later as amendments. So the "Bill of Rights" came into being as the first ten amendments to the constitution.

    Which is simply to say that written constitutions can be great things to have, but they sure are difficult to agree upon.

  12. Danny, 1st Earl of the OzarksJanuary 06, 2010 9:10 am

    PS: Munguin....I meant to say that I found your description of the constitutional situation in Scotland very informative. I'm a bit disappointed (as if it were any of my business) if the SNP had actually opposed the very idea of a written constitution. But maybe they were only opposed to this Unionist initiative. And ironically, as I understand it, ended up supporting the commission anyway.

  13. Anon: I think that the Back to Basics campaign was for ordinary people. It certainly didn't apply to the Prime Minister or any of his Cabinet, who, I think were at it like bunnies, with whom, or what-so ever they could find!

  14. Danny: I completely agree. I can imagine a reason for there to be tax breaks for couples with children, but even at that, it's hard to say why I should pay extra tax for lousy parents, just because they HAVE children. I can understand that it might be fair to pay for good parenting, but obviously the problem there is who will judge what is good and bad. So that is impracticable.

    I'm told however, by people who support this Tory move, that we are the only country in Europe that doesn't have a tax bribe to get married. I wouldn't know. But I'd be surprised at the far more sensible Scandinavian and Benelux countries coming up with something like that.

    Anyway, why should I subsidise the old couple in their 80s with a huge house and 2 cars; why should I subsidise the parents who neglect their children; why should I subsidise a young married couple who have no intention of having children; why should I subsidise a couple who got married, stayed together for a few weeks or months and split up? On the other hand, why don't I just come to an arrangement with the woman downstairs and get a marriage certificate and join in the tax bonanza?

    Oh damn, it’s because she’s already married!

  15. Munguin:

    The Tories appear to have given up on Scotland. I'd be interested to hear Dean's take on the Calman Commission though to see if he reads it differently.

    Hello .... Dean... Are you there?

  16. Thanks Danny: The Calman commission was looking at tweaks to the settlement of the constitution as laid out in the Scotland Act. They promised to look at different possibilities but refused to include the independence option and that is why the SNP did not have anything to do with it when it was being set up and when it was deliberating. This is because the SNP’s reason for being is of course independence. The SNP steers away from discussions on a post independence settlement as that would only divert attention from the goal of independence. But in all probability the people of Scotland will be asked to decide their own constitution by referendum and that may well include a bill of rights.