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« Q3: Cannabis | Main | Q5: Embryonic stem cell research »

Comments

Simon C

This was a missed opportunity for Cameron. His support for marriage has been a beacon of clarity in an otherwise opaque campaign.

He could have explained why he believes that marriage is important, and how he thinks it can be fostered. This is not necessarily about intervening in the authoritarian way that Gareth would fear, but might include using mentoring and marriage preparation courses of the sort pioneered by Harry Benson's Community Family Trust in Bristol.

The evidence base about family stability is now so clear though, that if you want to take social justice and social exclusion seriously, you must take family policy and in particular marriage seriously. If you don't take it seriously - do you actually take social policy seriously?

The political imperative for this is that this is a social justice issue, not an issue of private morality. It is encouraging that all of the last 3 leadership candidates have been agreed on this.

Cameron's answer, though, was direct. Davis didn't answer the question which was even more of a missed opportunity.

***

As a voluntary sector worker I am delighted that Conservatives are looking for ways to use the expertise and experience of the sector. But the main strength of charities lies in innovation - not in providing a safety net. The hospice movement is a good example of this. It has blazed the way in palliative care, so that Britain is now the world leader in the field. But, there are very significant gaps in service provision, based on geography, diagnosis (cancer takes 95% of specialist palliative care), and social disadvantage. The voluntary sector can help plug those gaps as a provider, but state funding & provision is also necessary.

It is also essential to ensure that state funding does not come with controls that operate to stifle the ceativity that made the voluntary sector successful in the first place.

Bishop Hill

I have also stopped donating to Christian Aid. They used to be the main beneficiaries of our charity box.

Gareth

Simon,

One can simultaneously deplore the rate of marriage breakdown and the consequences this has for children in particular, whilst recognising (a) government intervention in this area is likely to be both expensive and counter-productive and (b) it is undersirable for government to signal any perference in adults' life style choices.

Simon C

Gareth,

Delighted to see you recognising the link between marriage breakdown and the social damage it causes.

As to point (a) perhaps that's why the Editor focussed on the work being done in the voluntary sector. But, the government should not intervene to tilt the playing field aginst marriage either. As Jill Kirby has demonstrated at the CPS, the tax and benefits system is skewed against marriage. It should either be neutral, or have a positive bias in favour of encouraging long-term relationships (married or not).

As to (b) this is about helping people to sustain the choice they have made (i.e. to marry). Mentoring schemes are voluntary and support people in the choices they have made.

Gareth

Simon,

Only a fool wouldn't recognise the link. At the very least, having to support two huseholds instead of one causes poverty.

I would hate couples to stay in unhappy relationships because of money though. I would hate there to be disincentives for couples who choose not to marry.

I'm extremely sceptical about the desirability of the state to engage in social engineering or to suggest that any one life style choice is preferable to another.

Simon C

"Only a fool wouldn't recognise the link. At the very least, having to support two huseholds instead of one causes poverty."

So...if we want to take poverty-fighting seriously, don't we need to take this seriously?

If the state is already engaged in social engineering, by skewing the ssytem against marriage, shouldn't we at least neutralise that?

And do you support initiatives, such as the Bristol one, which support people in choices they have made? The Bristol scheme offers couples who are getting married the opportunity to be mentored by volunteer married couples, so that they can receive pre-marriage preparation and post marriage friendhip & support. It's a voluntary scheme, but the evidence is that couples who use it stay married longer (if my recollection from a presentation I saw in 2004 is correct).

Gareth

As I've said, i'm extremely sceptical about the notion that the state can persuade couples not to separate. I'm hostile to the idea that the state should discriminate against couples who choose not to marry, or single people who have children.

Obviously, I have no objection to charities pursuing whatever programmes they choose.

Marriage is a lifestyle choice. No more and no less. Let the C of E campaign for marriage, not the state and certainly not the tory party.

Sean Fear


I note that David Cameron is quite keen on tax breaks for married couples.

Deckchair of despair

To prevent charities that are in receipt of government funds becoming arms of the state (which would come about by some Minister deciding who is to get funds and who not) you could have a system whereby *all* personal charitable donations can be offset against tax, and all monies received by a charity will be matched pound for pound by the government, in an automatic way, and thus involving no sort of judgement by some elite panel of know-alls. This, I think, would particularly benefit smaller, local charities, which I personally favour, and which have tended to be squeezed out by the gigantic ones with their mega-advertising budgets. Does anyone think that this would work?

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