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Personally, I support the pro-marriage initiative but we shouldn't be blind to the risks. Letwin is right to warn that this has the potential to undo a lot of the good work that has been done in changing the party's image for the better. Cameron needs to tread carefully if this isn't going to become or, just as importantly, be perceived by the voters, as another bout of tories-bash-single-mums.

I can not believe that Brown is walking into this elephant trap.
What is "ideological" about saying that strong families are a good thing?
Brown, Johnson et al are doing a very good job of making themselves even less attractive to precisely the sort of small "c" Daily Mail/Express readers that they expect to bounce back to them once Brown is in charge. Cameron is on to an absolute winner on this one and more to the point he is right.

Personally, I think the renewed commitment to marriage will go some way towards reassuring "traditional Tories" that Cameron does have have true Conservative convictions at heart.
However, he is walking a very thin line between this and turning off the floating voters that he has done a very good job of persuading during the first year or so of his tenure.
One policy won't make or break him though.

What Cameron's knockers fail to realise, is that he has an "iron fist in a velvet glove" All they permit themselves to see is the velvet glove at present, but the steel is gently peeking out, and the velvet casing become a lesser part of the presentation. He is absolutely right about the importance of the family. I trust that he will continue to support measures to make domestic violence, that makes family life untenable,not "a thing of the past" because you cannot predict the psychotic nature of some human beings, but to put a fear of the consequences into violent partners of either sex, which will really deter the sane but bullying partner. That would be a start. I left my violent husband in 1976, as my kids and I lived in fear. West Yorks Police were superb. DC needs to go and see their methods. We can make family life the very best way to live, but as they say, "it takes two" to cooperate with each other, to give and take, not to get your own way by violence. Not taking it out of one's spouse after a bad day at work. Being reasonable. And I have to say, if one's parents have a doubt about a prospective suitor, listen. Dont fly off the handle. Do a little quiet checking. Is he/she who they say they are. Have you met the parents? Are they jealous/obsessive?
Do they appear to reach for alcohol rather often? Lastly, remember "love" is blind, and what you land yourself with is what you get. You will not be able to change them by marrying them!!!!! If anything, they will become a more extreme version of the thing you thought you could change.
So real support would be a true vote winner.

And Labour's policies towards marriage and the family aren't based on ideological judgements?

I fully accept that those who commit themselves to marriage overwhelmingly provide a more stable background to bring up children.

I have seen no evidence that tax breaks on the scale that is being mooted would encourage anyone to get married. Even if they did, would those who got married for the tax cut provide the same stable home as those who married for love and commitment.

A married tax allowance would reward those already in stable households, not a bad thing, but let us not kid ourselves that it would do anything to address Britain's social problems.

I'm glad to hear it.

However, I am disturbed by his strident attack on "fathers". Although there is a significant number of fathers who abandon responsibility and flee, the majority of fathers I come across are not part of the childrens' lives because the estranged mothers are refusing contact and the courts are relatively powerless. Thus Cameron needs to differentiate between the quitters, and those who are being dened. Children need both parents wherever possible, and action against quitters must be matched with strong action to enable loving fathers the right to see their children regularly - backed up by strong measures if access is denied.

A broken family inevitably results in unfairness. Our prime directive must be to keep the unfairness as far as possible from the children, remembering they had least choice in the matter. Protecting the children has the unfortunate result that the unfairness must be disproportionately shouldered by the absent parent. However, the courts could do much more to ensure that the absent parent has fair access and a fair burden of costs. Especially in a no-fault situation, the parent with custody can’t have it all their own way.

To protect relationships I would support the courts being far more likely to give custody to the father. The presumption that children go to the mother allows her to be reckless in a relationship, without particular fear of losing her children, home or prospects.

But society is to blame too. Government sometimes talks of children as if they are a commodity that is good for the country, to be bred as fast as possible. We’re traditionally taught that marriage and starting a family is a good thing, what is expected of us. All this rushes us to decisions that, if we’re unlucky, we later regret.

To reduce the number of broken families, government should move away from the idea that children are the way to fund our pensions. Instead it should encourage couples to delay from having children until they’re absolutely sure that they’ve found the right partner. What about a tax break for anyone under 30 who isn’t a parent!?

The courts aren't nearly as biased against fathers as Fathers For Justice et al would have you believe.

We need a fundamental review of welfare with support going to all individual adults equally, but additional support for those with children. Transferring this allowance between parents (or step parents) who live together is both supportive of families and fair to those who choose not to marry or who cannot because of their faith.

This would answer the concern of those who fear undoing the re-imaging, but even those who are less concerned about that aspect of project Cameron would, I suspect, be happy to support such an approach. I doubt that many Conservatives are such swivel-eyed ideologues to insist on hetro-sexual marriage as the only criteria for support.

We should attack Labour - and especially Brown - as he created the current system, which is biased in favour of parents who live apart and as such actively encourages failure as children of such families fail more.

Gareth, Fathers for Justice may overdo it but the track record of the courts is poor.

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