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It is important to find a progressive way to communicate our support for couples who decide to enter into marriage.

There is no doubt that the tax burden should, simply, be lowered for all couples and individuals.

Supporting marriage should be a pro-active task, based on community projects and education. Not the whim of a Chancellor.

We must also make some not inconsiderable efforts to reach out to single parents who have an enormously difficult challenge. To fathers who struggle to see their children and to families of all different shapes and sizes

'Tim Yeo displays a lack of commitment to marriage' Where have I heard that before?

This is a very tricky subject. If we are seeking to portray ourselves as a more liberal party, it will be difficult to promote a position which effectively discrimates against people who remain unmarried, or don't even have a choice.

Perhaps the Tories ought to make the facts found here more widely known:


Unfortunately, no matter how rational the arguments in favour of marriage, people just do not like the implication that they are in an inferior form of relationship. This is the key problem the Tories need to overcome

Provided that tax benefits for married couples are enacted as part of an overall tax reduction package, I can't see why this should cause any difficulty.

It's not really discriminatory because such benefits are available to any couple, who could after all, choose to get married.

Andrew - Whilst I would describe myself as on the liberal wing of the party, especially as regards social issues, I believe that liberalism is about allowing people to make informed choices, and respecting those choices. The vilification poured upon those who choose not to get married or those whose marriages broke up in the past was completely unacceptable.

However, responsible governments can and should intervene to make those choices truly informed. For instance, we tax petrol since it damages the environment. Conversely, we effectively subsidise children because we accept that children are good for society. Therefore, given the wealth of information cataloguing the social benefits of the stability that marriage brings, it seems entirely sensible and fair to give it a de facto subsidy. This is not prejudice - it is merely giving the appropriate incentives to allow people to choose a lifestyle based on its impact on wider society.

The state should support good practice - not ban the alternatives but make it clear that society benefits from a stable family, marriage is more likely to create stable families, the state will support marriage.
That doesn't mean punishing those in other relationships but ensuring that marriage is treated beneficially. As Sean points out this isn't discrimination - its saying while that people have a choice in relationships, one of these, marriage, provides partners with enhanced rights in inheritance, tax and family law.
Thank God IDS is in charge of policy rather than Yeo.

Sean, Alex, In my opinion, there should by an increased tax allowance for married couples and I think the idea of a stay at home mother/father being able to transfer their tax allowance is something that should be looked at.

I was just trying to look at it the way the media might try to portray it. The Tories hate single mothers and that kind of line, which is etched in peoples minds and is a perception that needs reversing.

"The Tories hate single mothers and that kind of line, which is etched in peoples minds and is a perception that needs reversing."

Don't you think the kind of gutlessness which always runs away from an argument is why we've been losing elections for so long?

The problem with our spokesmen/spokeswomen is that they often seem unprepared for the questions such as "so you are against single mothers then".

The line that we believe marriage is the preferred option, and our policies will support this, but that we will support single mothers in their difficult life choice, will not stigmatise those who have diffferent life styles, is a defensible one. But all to often shadow ministers seem unprepared for the questions.

Perhaps before a policy is announced they should spend a weekend with the more politically aware among the special advisors having their policies challenged as they will be on Radio 4 or 5. David Davis is one of the few who can think ahead, Hague this morning didn't seem to have prepared for the two subjects he must have known Marr would ask about - protests and the EPP. Lansley, Willets et al always seem surprised by simple questions like so what would you do in the circumstances?

Perhaps it's because we haven't yet thought through the policy but then don't go on the radio/TV!

Ted: "The problem with our spokesmen/spokeswomen is that they often seem unprepared for the questions such as "so you are against single mothers then".

Quite right, Ted. I'm the biggest supporter of marriage - I think it is the best weapon we have against poverty - but we need to be able to prove we are concerned for other families, too. We must formulate a family policy that includes help to unmarried families. A Conservative spokesman needs to be able to say that a Tory government would have, for example, policies on debt, school choice and benefit security, that would be useful to lone parent families.

Martin Sewell's recent Platform piece - A Rational Case for Supporting Marriage - is well worth a read for those who missed it.

The best way to support marriage is by making it less of a trap. Allow prenups to carry legal force, stipulate that a no-fault divorce returns to each party the property that was originally theirs, and guarantee father's rights with regard to children. Then the "marriage boycott" will end.

Tax advantages aren't just unfair, they'd be ineffectual. The biggest financial implications of marriage are those with regard to divorce.

A lot of "modern" Tories are just right-wing Marxists. They think that religion is all superstition and the opiate of the masses, and they think morality is a bourgeois construct that should be abolished. Mr Yeo has clearly nailed his colours to the mast on this matter by his personal behaviour.

Floating voters weren't alienated by traditional conservative values. They were alienated by a conspiracy of sexually immoral men in the 1990s who were also economically incompetent.

John Howard, Bush and Harper are all social conservatives. Even Blair managed to paint himself as more socially conservative than John Major by being photographed with his children and going to church. (It might be awful, but it worked.) You don't need a First in PPE to work out what Cameron's going to have to do to get elected.

Clearly all the studies show that children with two married parents fare better than those from single parent families. Many of our social problems today stem directly from the breakdown in traditional families. ANY heterosexual couple is at libery to marry. The truth sometimes hurts, but no reason for shying away from this matter. There are too many gutless politicians - you have to nail your colours to the mast in politics.

Tim Yeo personifies the guilt ridden cringe wing of the upper middle classes who believe in moral relativism rather than taking a stand on the traditional Christian bedrock of what is right and what is wrong. People like him are frightened to support views they think will alienate the "people". Hence his hostility to Ann Widdecombe's anti-drug campaign a few years ago.
He is out of touch like so many in the Tory party because "the people" like clarity. They like leadership. They know that the traditional family is best, even if they cannot achieve it themselves. If government and society are seen to be supporting the institution then this helps people maintain it ( which in their hearts they want to do). Similarly "the people" are against the drug sub-culture because it is the poorest and least articulate in society who suffer the most in terms of crime and ruined lives.
"The people" want tough policing - the majority support the death penalty for heinous murders. "The people" are generally not homophobic but they prefer homosexuals to be discreet and not aggressively flaunting their predilections. They certainly do not want it taught in schools. It is a paradox that paedophilia is condemned, but lowering the age
of consent for homosexuals is seen as "liberating" ( in Holland it is 14 years!!).
Mrs Thatcher and her Tory party were successful in the 1980s because she personified the strong views of the silent majority.
Mr Yeo should start to address what "the people" want from government rather than pleasing the articulate, metropolitan, middle classes. Unless he and his type start doing this, then the Tories will never form a government again.

Yeo is yesterday's man in so many ways. This 1970s knee jerk social liberalism has had its day. The one glimmer of light from Cameron's manifesto was his pledge to support and encourage marriage. What Yeo and moonbats like him don't understand is that it's not about moralising. They hear the word marriage and think "back to basics" and "family values". That's not what this agenda is about. It's about one word. Evidence. And the evidence shows that marriage is good for society in a way that other relationships aren't. Therefore, government shold find ways to encourage and support it. In the same way as government encourages and supports other beneficial activities, like giving tax breaks to charities etc. It's not complicated. To his credit, Cameron does seem at least to understand this basic point. Of course, Yeo and Steve Norris will never understand such a simple, politically logical position. But I bet that a large part of the electorate do.

bet he'd support tax relief for mistresses and 'love' children

Marriage is a matter of personal choice. The tax system should not be designed to influence or guide people's personal choices. In any case, the last thing we need is to further complicate the tax system. What we need in this country is an immediate and substantial cut in taxes. This will benefit every working person and family in Britain, regardless of whether they're married or not. It's arrogant for government to use fiscal policy as a tool for controlling people's lives.

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