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Are you sure that it was New Labour which finally abolished the married couples' allowance? It was certainly on the way out before then, in fact wasn't it Nigel Lawson who explicitly laid down a policy of tax neutrality towards marriage? Hadn't it been restricted, first to the basic rate, and then to half of the basic rate, before 1997? Memories fade, and I'm too busy to check at the moment, but I'm certain that the process started under the last Tory government.

On Radio 4 yesterday after IDS had put forward his aproach it was Hutton's turn. His first words were that we had to get away from these Right Wing ideas of telling people how to live their lives (so IDS = Right Wing, ignore him).

No immediate response from interviewer - so what is Labour doing then announcing ASBOs on the unborn? what's it doing trying to force single parents into work? trying to ban free speech on religious matters? telling fashion industry not to employ thin models?

Hutton is doing the typical Labour spoiling tactic of talking the Tory talk but walking the Labour walk - micro-management, short term initiatives. More failed families, more teenage pregnancies because its ministers believe they know better than parents how to bring up children, how to teach values and give children the best chance.

Why would you imagine that the Daily Mail would not fall for the latest NuLabour "happy families" line? The Mail always runs with its own agenda which sometimes parallels that of the Conservative Party, sometimes not. The most conspicuous PC theme in the Mail's recent history is its role in the Stephen Lawrence affair. Having revealed the scandal of the complete failure of the Met investigation of the murder the Mail then accepted uncritically the whole package of the MacPherson Report, "institutional racism" and all.

Further, and maybe I could be accused of a tad of paranoia, but the Mail has a hostage to fortune in the freesheet "Metro" distributed on the premises of London Transport: as long as the Mail is not too vociferous on matters close to Hizonner's heart (ostensibly but not invariably the NuLabour project), distribution rights on LT stay in place. Also, you only have to read the Evening Standard in London to realise that Associated Press, if not a fan of Hizonner, is more or less neutral when it comes to editorialising in respect of Livingstone's wider policies. Don't therefore expect the Mail to raise too many questions concerning NuLabour spin.

Ed- quite agree that after all this time surely the Mail shouldn't get taken in by yet more vacuous New Labour positioning

Yet... the current crisis in the Labour Party does seem to be shaking out some interesting statements from senior figures who've been sitting in their tents for a while.

We know about Steve "Tax-cuts" Byers and his call for the abolition of IHT, and this week we had the Blessed Clare calling for serious electoral reform and an end to anti-democratic fptp electoral dictatorship.

But most interesting is Milburn's speech earlier this week calling for an end to Big Government:

"There remains at the heart of New Labour an unresolved ambivalence about the role of the state... As a parent, I don't want power in the hands of councils or schools. As a patient I don't want it in the hands of managers or hospitals. I want it in my hands."

He goes on to propose radical downsizing:

"A new assumption should guide policy. The State should be running less not more. And to give this new political assumption bite it will need to be given institutional form. After all nobody ever willingly gave away power. So Whitehall should be capped in its scale and its scope. Where one new regulation is proposed two old ones will have to go. Where one new form is issued two old ones will be replaced. Where one new standard or target is introduced two old ones will be withdrawn. Where one new job is created two old ones will be lost."

Well worth reading.

And you really have to wonder how such a speech would go down with Camp Cameron if he were a Tory elder statesman. (For more see http://www.taxpayersalliance.com/news/individual_blog.php?post_id=342 )

Four well informed contributions.

The one encouraging aspect of Labour's cynical control of the Press is that consumption in terms of readership is falling. And the blogosphere is growing.

There seems to be a concerted anti-Cameron phase coming into play - the Sun backing Brown and The Mail attacking Cameron. It's as if plus 7% is quite enough.

Cameron had full media backing at the beginning when they wanted him to stop Liam Fox. Now they're not sure what they've bought, and want him licking media boots.

Makes me proud to be a Guardian/Indie reader.

Are you sure that it was New Labour which finally abolished the married couples' allowance?
In Mrs Thatcher's time the Conservative Party was committed to Married Couples Allowance, John Major and Norman Lamont decided at a time at which spending was rising and taxes had been cutback and they were having to deal with a spiralling deficit, Gordon Brown was all too happy to continue and indeed accelerate it's demise, Conservative Policy under William Hague switched back to favouring reinstating it, under IDS this was modified to a committment to bring in a new variation for families but not favouring Married Couples over unmarried ones - at least that's how I recall it.

Yes I thought the Mail editorial very strange today. They are normally so suspicous of Blairite pronouncements but seem to have bought the Hutton line completely.I wonder if this is just a shot across Camerons bows.
Don't know why you are proud of reading the Indy Justin.Its lack of accuracy has to be the most blatant in all of Fleet St. Perhaps its the result of trying to produce a paper with so few staff journalists.

Malcolm: "I wonder if this is just a shot across Camerons bows."

I think you may be right, Malcolm. I think newspapers like The Sun and Mail want more from Cameron before they will be sure to favour him over Brown or Johnson etc. I think it's ridiculous. I'm disappointed with many aspects of Project Cameron but there's plenty of good in it, too, and a Cameron-led Tory government is much preferable to a Brown-led Labour government (as long, for me, as DC is willing to do what is necessary to keep Britain on the front foot in the war on terror).

Yet Another Anon, from: http://www.civitas.org.uk/pdf/loneParentTrap.pdf Note 12

"The joint household assessment for welfare benefits and tax credits contrasts starkly with the current system of individual income tax assessment. Although after World War II the financial support for families and children was based upon joint income assessment, that principle was discarded in the 1990s. In 1990, Chancellor Nigel Lawson famously announced an age of individual taxation on the basis that adults should not have to share their financial details with their partners. The married couples allowance was reduced gradually and ultimately eliminated in April 2000 (except for those over 65 years old and already claiming the allowance). With very little discussion, the government has shifted the unit of assessment back to the household, at least for the very poor. This trend has
manifested itself in the working families tax credit (WFTC) and the planned child tax credit. As more families become subject to meanstesting via joint household assessment, the issue of privacy should become more of a concern. Not only are low-income couples expected to share their financial details with each other (a condition not required of middle and higher-income couples), but they are also
expected to share details of their family situation with their employer, who is responsible for administering the WFTC."

The Tories will easily win the next election if they savagely cut and/or abolish existing taxes which are forcing many couples ( also those with young children) to work unsocial hours to make ends meet eg: Council tax ( high due to out-of- control public sector pensions), Inheritance Tax , Capital Gains Tax and Brown's tax on Pensions. The Tories should abolish pension annuities; double old age pensions;
double child benefit for married/widowed couples but not single mothers; restore married man's tax allowance to a level so the wife may decide to stay at home and have children; abolish the Human Rights act; restore the rights of teachers and parents to smack children and keep order; scrap all political correctness which inhibits the police in locking up criminals; build more prisons in line with population growth; stop all immigration without strict work permits ( exclude immigrants from bringing in families and send back the millions who have arrived here illegally since 1945 without proper paper work when they arrived).
The £9000 per family taken in tax since 1997 by Blair/Brown, from each family, must be reversed. Paying for this will mean reducing our spending of 55% of HMG's total income on the NHS and Social welfare ( £220 billion) through better management, targeting, private insurance and eliminating the spongers who fleece the system - ie cut the 75million NI cards closer to the actual number of people capable of working in the country (40 million?).

The Tories must start to have policies based on principle - ie: low tax , small government, anti-welfare state, defence of property, and strict social order. At present they are seen as drifting with the prevailing wind, and Hutton and Byers are left singing from what should be the Tory song sheet. Where is the party that the overtaxed majority in this country can support? Isn't the recent poll that one in six young people want to emigrate , because of tax and lack of opportunity, a frightening statistic? These are the enterprising ones we need to keep.

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