Marrying old and new forms of deception

[Tuesday]

Is marriage good or bad?

Your answer depends upon your own experiences, I suppose. Hey, if it makes people happy, go for it. If not, don’t.

Will poverty be reduced if the government promotes marriage by providing financial incentives?

The question is worth answering. Naturally, it should not be better to be married than not, to be unmarried than married; I don’t think it is the business of the government to interfere in the private lives of citizens. But there’s more to it than that…

Why has this come up then? Oh yes, it’s Dave the Chameleon again. The UK’s tax and benefits system must lose its anti-marriage bias if poverty is to be reduced, he says.

The subtext to the debate is that state provision of public services – the welfare state – makes poverty worse, and there should be greater provision by the voluntary sector. The argument is that more privatisation will glue together the “Broken Society”.

Forgive me, then, if I am incredulous when I hear policy wonks blathering on about reforming the tax system. The real agenda is twofold – winning support for Cameron’s New Tories with voters, whilst at the same time assuring the capitalist class that the Old Tories haven’t gone away.

He welcomed predecessor Iain Duncan Smith’s social justice policy group report proposing 190 measures including tax breaks for some married couples.

He would not be “instantly picking and choosing” policies but wanted to hold a “serious debate” on the ideas.

Labour says the plans will discriminate against lone and unmarried parents.

Government ministers have nothing substantive to say on the “Breakthrough Britain” report by the Tories’ Social Justice Policy Group, led by Iain Duncan Smith. Brown has advised them not to be led into a debate on the pros and cons of marriage, and so the focus has been on the detail of the policy recommendations.

I note that Cameron won’t make up his mind now, but wants a “debate”. They all say that, though…

“Stand up, speak up” Cameron will ask of us, as he throws open (or throws away) the Tory policy review and invites members of the public to suggest policies for the Tories. It’s either the height of democracy or total lack of inspiration, and it will annoy the people who have spent months conducting research for the party.

Your starter for ten
Here’s a better question:

Is Cameron talking about marriage because he has nowhere left to go?

Having run out of controversial things to say, he has started appeasing the right wing of his party, whilst appearing shiny-happy at the same time. That the poor have got poorer in the last ten years in indisputable, but does anyone believe that tackling poverty will be Cameron’s first priority?

One of Iain Duncan Smith’s policy recommendations was to make lone parents work by the time their child is five years old. So much for the Tories wanting to force women back into the kitchen – they apparently would like to push them into low-paid employment. (Not that I am saying all lone parents are women, though they make up the majority.)

Perhaps it would be better for kids if they had their parents at home more often? How’s about a 35 hour week Dave?

There’s no chance of economic issues coming to the fore, however. Certainly not radical reforms which would benefit the working class!

Oliver Letwin, whose theoretical musings I have blogged on before, wrote a book called Privatising the World back in the late eighties. A “how-to” guide to flogging off public property, the Privatisation Revolution was lauded, but the role of western imperialism was not mentioned. Ah, historical idealism…

Nasty once more?
At PMQs last Wednesday, Cameron jumped on the anti-terror bandwagon by calling on the government to ban Hizb-ut- Tahrir, a radical Islamic organisation. Blair signalled he would ban the group after the July 7 attacks two years ago – despite no linkage between the group and the bombers.

Sure they’re against democracy, but it’d be ironic to ban them for that, wouldn’t it?

No, this was Cameron using the failed attacks on Glasgow to look hard on terror, and make Gordon look like a moron. Brown doesn’t need help in this department…

Personally, I’m pleased that Cameron’s making a right turn. It’s more honest than waffling on about how the Tories will save the NHS, or don’t care about grammar schools, etc.

He’s already come out in favour of a war in Iran, something which has not been given much attention by the media, who love the ridiculous antics of the New Tories. Does anyone believe that they will get tough on private equity firms and make them pay tax? No, but it makes good copy. It’s only a matter of time before the Tories drop the whole act, but whether this will be before or after the next general election remains to be seen.

Crass opportunism and enmity towards Gordon Brown? Maybe Cameron’s right; he is the heir to Blair. Whereas Tony fooled many people a decade ago, will Dave be able to work the trick again?

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