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Political cross-dressing

Nick Robinson | 10:18 UK time, Wednesday, 11 July 2007

"I am the son of a Church of Scotland minister". With those ten words this morning Gordon Brown showed his nervousness about the Tory marriage proposals. Some close to Brown think that the Tory leader's made a strategic mistake by looking retro not modern and pessimistic not optimistic about the future of society. I wonder.

Intellectually, Team Brown are certain that it is right to help children regardless of their parents' decisions and they scorn a tax break which would help just a fraction of all parents and would particularly help better off families whose wives don't work. Politically, I sense a nervousness about whether they've allowed Cameron to adopt the idealistic high moral ground. Jonathan Freedland's column in the Guardian today about the power of the emotional as against the intellectual appeal of politics is worth careful reading.

Of course the traffic is not all one way. Some Tories are nervy that Brown has adopted the union jack and "the British way of life". Political cross-dressing is here to stay.

Comments

Cameron has got it wrong, whilst I support many of his policies it is this kind of twisted moralising that will keep me away from the tory party indefinately.

  • 2.
  • At 11:10 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • clive Cunningham wrote:

Housing (or lack of it) is obviously the number one priority. Why not restore council housing to start with? Then bring in a tax on second homes which will deter people from buying up available houses for eventual profit as well as income. I live in a modern estate where a great number of the houses are rented out to those who can not get on the property ladder. This pushes up prices and tenants are locked into a system where rent money is 'dead' money. At least a morgage is a way onto the housing ladder. For first time buyers why not bring back tax-free allowances? Not all 'brown field' land is in cities. there are great swathes of derelict rural sites throughout the UK which could be used for sensible development. I think Gordon Brown may well turn out to be a caring PM.

  • 3.
  • At 11:29 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • het wrote:

Team Brown are intellectualizing. Perhaps that's the problem?

  • 4.
  • At 11:29 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • woogle wrote:

i agree!

  • 5.
  • At 11:29 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Sam Turvey wrote:

Gloucestershire mothers at home with their new land rovers are probably loving the prospect of a marriage tax break.

  • 6.
  • At 11:31 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • John D wrote:

The Prime Minister's statements are in many ways uplifting, not least because he seems to be returning dignity to the office and with it much more dialogue. Without dignity there is no respect, and bringing respect alongside proposals which attempt to address immediate and vital issues, such as housing, health and education, demands that we pay attention and involve ourselves as citizens as he wants.

If that's what being a son of the manse brings, then I am with him as a genuine moderniser and a leader we can trust!

  • 7.
  • At 11:43 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Rob Smith wrote:

Cameron's "Back to Basics Part 2" is a sop to the reactionaries in his party who still rather weirdly revere the Victorian era as a halcyon age.

So much for progressive policies and modernisation. A definite sign of weakness calculated to steady the wobbles induced by the grammar schools fiasco.

The tax break for married couples is nothing more than an embarrassing bribe with no intellectual credibility. It's all highly likely to backfire as the feral beasts of Fleet Street will seek out the errant Tories who dare to flout Victorian morality.

  • 8.
  • At 11:47 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Craig Richardson wrote:

Cameron's support for Smith's proposals involve Ł 8 billion in expenditure. Can we now see the related income and expenditure measures that will enable this. Once we have this we can see what aspects of Brown's continuing support for children will be diluted or removed.

Cameron has forgotten a simple principle, that poverty contributes to marriage breakdown.

  • 9.
  • At 11:52 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Richard Marriott wrote:

Housing (or lack of it) is one side of the coin, but what about the other? I have yet to hear Brown mention the "I" word and what he intends to do about the unsustainable levels of immigration the country has been experiencing under Labour.

  • 10.
  • At 11:59 AM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • T wrote:

Time to take the gloves off with Gordon: today's England only agenda needs to be classified as such by commentators. Listen to the people region by region, that is override local authorities by state diktat under the guise of regional consultation, pure Prestcottry. Listen to the people, and refuse a referendum on the EU to which more and more power is given! Come on Nick, stop this ultra polite stuff, get stuck in with some real questions!

  • 11.
  • At 12:26 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Anthony Smith wrote:

Cameron's (or IDS's) error is not just that promoting marriage appears "retro", it is an error of logical analysis in the commission's work and therefore cannot lead to successful policy.

IDS has confused cause and effect. Marriage is a symptom of better life chances not a cause of them. What sort of people get married? Those with aspirations, who are planning their lives and making long term commitments. Also those who can afford today's ludicrous wedding costs!

The reason the stats show that (on average) children with married parents do better is because those parents already have ambition, resources and stability in their lives, not because of some magic property of the marriage certificate. That is also why many children of lone parent households do OK.

By focusing on the symptom of success rather than the cause of failure the conservatives will produce policies which not only fail to tackle poverty, but are also socially regressive. This is a shame because many of the recommendations IDS makes make sense - hopefully those bits will be used in some way by Brown!

  • 12.
  • At 12:40 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

Most of things Brown is saying are positive, mainly because he is communicating with the public rather than spinning. However, he still has a huge hurdle to overcome... His constiuency is in another country that has it's own Parliament! He will have to be staggeringly effective to overcome that in middle England.

Allowing Cameron to take the high ground is positive in the sense that it would seem that the new Brown government isn't into idealism (the sheer number of times I've heard "we made mistakes in the beginning", "we've a long way to go" etc is astounding), however I lack faith in the voting public to notice this. It's that double-edged sword; do you do the right things for the country but get kicked out or do you say the right things to stay in power and do less good overall?

  • 14.
  • At 12:43 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • jill Clayton wrote:

Isn't it interesting that the same people who get cross about the number of Scots in government joyfully greeted Jamie Murray as a British Wimbledon winner

  • 15.
  • At 12:51 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • IDC wrote:

"I am the son of a Church of Scotland minister". With those ten words, Gordon Brown sums up everything that is wrong with the current political debate in a "must have now" multi-cultural "tinderbox" of a society that is predominantly selfish, materialistic and ignorant. It will take far more than those ten words to re-build trust in a political system that has been ravaged from Thatcher to Blair. Whether it is "Team Union Jack" versus "Team nuptials", such political self-interest cross-dressing is demeaning without some of the honesty and integrity and Christian principles I am sure the Church of Scotland minister would have tried to apply to such issues!

  • 16.
  • At 12:55 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Geoff Bunn wrote:

re: Immigration

Throughout history wherever an economy has boomed, immigrants have arrived.

Put another way, you have the choice:-

A weak economy with low levels of immigration or a strong economy with high levels immigration.

Which would you prefer?

  • 17.
  • At 12:55 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Jel wrote:

Couldn't have put it better me'self, M'Gord. Widowed parents get stuffed by our society all ways at once: the last thing we need is a con-man telling the world we're feckless.
As the father of a handicaped child, DC should have known better.

  • 18.
  • At 12:55 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Ken Moss wrote:

A housing policy in the absence of land utilisation and population policies is a nonesense and is just pandering to the electorate which only wants affordable (cheaper) housing. The population is housed already so there is no need for any more.

  • 19.
  • At 12:58 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • David wrote:

Brown's problem is that he knows Jack Straw and the Government said exactly the same thing years ago, but failed to do anything about it.

  • 20.
  • At 12:59 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • craig wrote:

the idea that a tax break for married couples is going to make society a better place way off the mark. A lot of society's problems are however related to the environment in which we live, so if brown is planning on building houses, it is time that volume house builders are forced to consider the consequences of building standard types and start considering the quality of public space and amenity, which is vital in building successful communities.

  • 21.
  • At 01:00 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • G Taylor wrote:

More support for children? More available housing?Its so very easy, prosecute under age teenagers for having children and stop giving them masses of money instead.
I have 2 friends both working in education, they deal with 12-15 year old girls and the main aspiration in life is to have a child and before they are 16.In my profession I recently,came across a girl wanting to buy a house,she was 17 had 2 children and was pregnant again with the 3rd different father none of which contributed anything. She worked 16 hours a week and earned ÂŁ3200/yr but after all her benefits are taken into account she was on ÂŁ27500!!!Her mother truly could not understand why mortgage providers would not accept her benefits as a means to support a mortgage. I said that could she really think that the state should,in effect, buy her daughter a house which is an appreciating asset.She said "why not?".With that attitude why should any of us go to work.
Next, I see the PM still wants Home Information Packs to be introduced, what an idiot! Is this,however, a way of trying to save the blushes of Ruth Kelly, another idiot.Home information packs simply provide masses of profit to companies in that market and I am sick and tired of the power that estate agents have and are likely to increase as a consequence. They are unqualified,unregulated and many operate in a way that is simply not in the interests of the general public.
Mr Brown's ideas are doomed to failure, not I suspect due to his lack of sincerity, I actually have a feeling that he means business but the likes of Ruth Kelly and David Milliband will mess it all up due to their incompetency.
No matter what is said the simple truth is that we have masses of land in this country and all the bleaters who complain about building on green belt, should realise that to stabalise housing means building.
Unfortunately though, none of it really matters, we now have an established underclass in this country and no matter what we do they will continue to milk the system and drain our resources i.e. drug addicts being given drugs by the state, alcoholics being given alcohol by the state and both of these groups are at the top of the council house priority list.
So if you can't beat them, join them. I think I'll pack in my job at which I work 60 hours a week get plastered, get stoned and get supported by Mr Brown's bunch and watch daytime telly and do nothing that benefits the community.Moreover I think I'll father a bunch of kids, that'll give me a promotion. I'll spend none of it on my kids but throw them on to the streets and let them play havoc, its all so easy.Still I'll at least become a Labour voter to protect myself, call me cynical but is that the master plan of Labour i.e. sell the country down the river just to keep power. No surely not!!

  • 22.
  • At 01:02 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Gav Thorpe wrote:

I have to agree with Anthony Smith. Married/ not married is a pointless division. What is important is the type of relationship into which a child is born. What are the figures for children born to couples that have been in a stable relationship with each other for two or more years? What proportion of those unmarried couples had unplanned children (for example, teenage pregnancy)? There are so many moe relationship dynamics than whether you are married or unmarried. Black-and-white moralising and headline-grabbing does not adress these issues at all.

  • 23.
  • At 01:03 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Chris Wills wrote:

I am saddened by the way the media, in particular the BBC, always allows the minority voice to do the most shouting when the issue of marriage is discussed. I thought the BBC was supposed to be representative of the country and its viewers, yet whenever marriage and traditional values are raised they wheel out the liberal do gooders, whingeing shouting and screaming about their rights and give them a far greater air time than they do the majority ordinary people. What about the rights of ordinary people who watch in quiet horror at the decline of our society because of the breakdown of the family unit?
Families do a lot more than raise children; they often care for sick and elderly relatives, they can provide free childcare, they can support members through financial problems, provide jobs or help members get on their feet, they help members grieve, help them start businesses, provide counselling, provide expert advice, help move house and many more priceless but intangible things that seem to be forgotten in todays society. I am a member of a very large family on both sides and I consider myself to be very priveleged that I have such a huge resource to call upon if I am in need. I recognise this is not always going to be the case but I believe marriage should be actively encouraged to give more people the benefits that go with it.
I am a teacher and I will never forget 2 girls I taught in a school in Gloucester at the tail end of the 90s. I always encouraged my pupils to talk about their ambitions and 2 girls in year 11 said their ambition was to get pregnant as soon as possible, even before the end of the school year if they could. That way they would "get up the council housing list, get a nice little flat and live off the soshe." I asked them about the fathers of their prospective children. They laughed and told me to get real, they didn't want "no lazy bum" ruining their lives. And don't think this was a one off, ask any teacher who has taught in a deprived area.
Fine, but what about their children? Will they have access to a loving and caring family throughout their life? I wonder.

  • 24.
  • At 01:05 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • ISMAIL JOGI wrote:

Funny how when a political party raises it's head out of the pit and takes a more challenging approach , most people want to shoot them down, whilst not offering any better alternatives. The crux of the argument is that this would contribute to a long term solution. It is far easier to claim fraudulent benefits whilst claiming to be single, IT IS happening all around us, people have caught on that integrity does not pay and it is costing the ave taxpayer. Whilst the current Govt encourages by making almost anything means tested. Critic's answer this, when research suggest more than 70% of drug users come from single parent backgrounds, what is the answer?

  • 25.
  • At 01:09 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Martin Beech wrote:

The idea that there should be a tax incentive to be married and have one partner at home looking after children should not be dismissed as retro.

A tax incentive such as this would allow a significant number of families to have a more stable home life. Many families have two parents that work in order to meet the mortgage payments. They then have to fund childcare from that salary. When these parents return home after work, they are often tired and do not spend a lot of time with their children. Children need parental attention and many just do not get it.

If we could reverse this by simply transferring the tax allowances of married couples the benefit to this country would be huge.

In the days when one parent stayed home with the children, the youth had manners and respect for themselves and other people. The decline in the standard of behaviour in the UK started when the majority of households got two working parents.

Does this make it a retro idea? No, we laid the foundations for a society that is falling apart decades ago. Now we have a second generation who don't stay at home to bring up the kids. If we allow it to go to a third generation, what is left of British Society will end up in the history books.

  • 26.
  • At 01:12 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Gav Thorpe wrote:

I have to agree with Anthony Smith. Married/ not married is a pointless division designed to appeal to hardline right wing voters that are abandoning the Tories for UKIP. What is important is the type of relationship into which a child is born. What are the figures for children born to couples that have been in a stable relationship with each other for two or more years? What proportion of those unmarried couples had unplanned children (for example, teenage pregnancy)? There are so many moe relationship dynamics than whether you are married or unmarried. Black-and-white moralising and headline-grabbing does not adress these issues at all.

  • 27.
  • At 01:14 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Tess Jones wrote:

David Cameron has got it right, it is not retro, it is plain common sense. I grew up on a large council estate, no car, no holidays, but Dad worked hard in the Steel Works. As children our Mum died, there were no freebies, we paid for Mum's funeral on tick. As children we kept out of trouble, we were not clever, but worked hard and still do. Society is broken, please can someone mend it.

  • 28.
  • At 01:17 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • socialist.. wrote:

Re. more housing - I agree that absent landlords need to be taxed more - by Council Tax and also by having the Buy-to-Let tax advantages minimised. Make them pay a punitive Council Tax as landlord - say 150% and then still charge council tax on the property tenant. Also, ban landlords from normal mtge rates - force lenders to apply premium rates of interest. Withdraw the 'Lettings Relief' tax allowance re. CGT. In fact make all Landlords subject to Income tax on the property gain...Limit tax relief on rent losses to 'that' property's income only...grrr...bring back affordable council housing for the masses and get rid of these 'greedy' landlords! Which century are we in??

  • 29.
  • At 01:18 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • D Faux wrote:

Any plan to improving housing prospects/ ownership for the people wishing to buy a home is good. But it needs a focused achieveable policy, not tinkering with the current systems. I would like to see the attraction of owning a second home become more expensive - council tax doubled, and that money put into providing new homes.It's unacceptable that many villages no longer have all year round occupation, and the locals priced out by the well off. How many of our Labour Government Ministers and MPs have second homes at the expense of local people. Gordon attack the root of the problem, don't avoid it.

  • 30.
  • At 01:18 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Jeremy wrote:

Nick,

I find it incredible that people are able to come to such a swift conclusion about the document produced by Iain Duncan Smith. I believe it runs to almost 700 pages has taken 18 months to produce and must therefore have much more to recommend it than simply tax breaks for married couples. Notwithstanding that, the Labour Party machine was in full spin cycle yesterday with Ed Milliband and Ed Balls (Two ‘Eds with but a single thought?) spouting exactly the same words.
I believe that the document deserves time for consideration. It has to be discussed and then we need to see what actually turns in to a Conservative policy. This is decent considered politics.
What it has done is allowed Cameron to shape the debate as he has done for much of the last twelve months. Let’s hold judgement until we see what is adopted.

  • 31.
  • At 01:18 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Rob E wrote:

Tax breaks for married couples - sounds like yet another scheme to get the poor to subsidise the rich.

  • 32.
  • At 01:22 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • francesca lacey wrote:

I agree with comment number 2 - for goodness sake bring back council housing. Does one really need to own a house? Has the surge to become a property owning democracy made us a better society - I think not. Low rent council housing comes with a degree of security, enabling people who can't afford to buy to put down roots. Councils can be compelled to keep housing stock up to standard, and it would provide competition for the private landlord. David Cameron would do more for families by promising low rent, decent housing than by giving a small percentage of families ÂŁ20 back in tax.

  • 33.
  • At 01:25 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • alex wrote:

As someone who is only 3 years into there career after graduating, i find many of the comments posted here astonishingly negative towards Cameron's plan.
My girlfirend and i have just managed to scrape together enough money to buy a house and would love to get married in the next couple of years and eventually have some kids.
However, we both have student loans to repay and high mortguage payments. The idea of having to pay child care fees on top of our current commitments will be utterly impossible for a long time to come.

Some sort of incentive and help for people in our situation (like a tax break allowing my partner - future wife - to stay at home) would be greatly welcome both personally and, i think, should be by society as a whole.
After all i would have thought that its the governments aim to encourage people in our situation to produce the next generation (after all dont we need the offspring from people like me to pay for pensions and care for the elderly)
If society really wants to make it as hard as possible for people in my situation to get to this point in life (home, wife, kids) then carry on supporting Gordon!

  • 34.
  • At 01:28 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Melanie Purdie wrote:

I think Ken Moss is possibly a little deluded. More affordable housing is an absolute necessity in this country. Independent research indicates that 1.6 million children in Britain are living in housing that damages their education, health and home through being temporary, overcrowded or sub-standard. This is unacceptable, and it has nothing to do with migrants. I'm pleased to see Gordon Brown facing the reality of poverty in this country and taking action.

Are we certain that peoples reaction to politics is ALWAYS emotional?

It seems that from the media point of view it is since they focus on the Grand Battle of Westminster and beyond.

But from the common man's point of view - if you are cueing for a hospital bed your main question is "how long." You will react badly to an emotional speech at that point!

  • 36.
  • At 01:35 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • John Constable wrote:

Have a 'transferrable' tax allowance from the non-working partner to the working partner might seem like a good idea to you or me.

But to some of the 'bean counters' in Government, this is not a good idea at all.

Why?

Because, to them, it might set a 'dangerous precedent'.

That is, personal allowances today, Capital Gains Tax allowances tomorrow.

Furthermore, once the 'principle' was established, there would be pressure to carry unused allowances over from one year to the next.

I would like English people to consider one simple notion, which is this, every pound that the Government extracts from your pocket reduces your freedom (of choice).

You pay a very heavy price indeed if you (as the vast majority are) employed as a bog-standard PAYE employee.

Don't take my word for it, just look on the Treasury's website at the annual budget piechart, around 50% of all Government income come from PAYE employees.

Generally, English people have very little real fiscal freedom and that is a fact.

  • 37.
  • At 01:47 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Michael Orton wrote:

Well said Martin Beech (post 22)!

While of course there will always be a need to support single parent families, if we can find a way to make it practical, for those who want to live that way, to be single income families I think we should.

How about allowing the whole familly to be treated as one unit for tax purposes? Sum all the income and set it against all the personal allowances, and even the tax bands.

There has been much ranting by politicians about not discriminating against single parents, but as Chris Wills wrote in post 21, it should not be so well supported that it becomes seen as the best carrer option.

I won't advance any specific solutions as there is to too much conflict of interest, but things need to be rebalanced.

  • 38.
  • At 01:50 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Matt Spence wrote:

Comments 21 and 22 - I couldn't agree more. In many ways, both married and co-habiting couples are discriminated against with the current system.

The merits of family life are clear, and government policy should reflect this giving clear incentives in soem way, shape or form. Whilst the financial help proposed is unlikely to significantly change the lifestyle of those affected, it gives a clear positive message that a stable family environment is rewarded.

Unfortunately the current government policy does not encourage the family unit in any way, and the results are becoming quite apparent.

  • 39.
  • At 01:55 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • D Hayes wrote:

The twisted logic of Gordon Brown never ceases to amaze me. His longwinded peroration was full of contradictions. He claims that more houses will be built, but who created the housing crisis? He boasts that pensions will be protected, yet he caused the chaos in the first place. He is adamant that he supports marriage, yet penalises those who are! He defends the present society when violent crime has soared, suicide rates, drug abuse, gambling addiction and alcoholism are at an all time high. Just which Party has been in power for the past ten years!

  • 40.
  • At 02:02 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • catherine wrote:

I agree with Alex, I really dont understand the negativity toward these proposals.

I personally welcome the notion of providing a tax break for those family units who have educated themselves, worked and then choosen to have a family.

I have massive student loans, as does my husband - we both have relitavely good jobs. But should I take time out to raise a family I would be significantly worse off (financially) than if I had become pregnant at 16, not gone to universtiy or got a job.

How can that be right?

The so called "social breakdown" is, in my opinion, partly due to the government rewarding those who dont try to improve their life chances. Those who sit at home and watch TV whilst reaping the benefits afforded to them by the government. Benefits, we as tax payers fund. Lets provide people with an incentive to create the society we all covet, where parents raise their children, not nurseries.

Its high time we put the family values at the front of the political agenda - not the welfare state!

I want to stay home, spend time instilling right from wrong into my kids and teaching them how to be a good person who contributes to society. Why shouldn't I be afforded some financial breaks for raising fully rounded children who do not require the Social Care system, or interventions by Law and Order?

  • 41.
  • At 02:02 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • paul sinnott wrote:

On buy to let. Could it be that pension changes/stock market crashes have combined to make buy to let a popular investment? In addition, GB has increased stamp duty on property thus deterring people from moving house which reduces the supply of housing for sale thus forcing prices upward. Instead of taxing buy to letters how about reducing stamp duty ?

  • 42.
  • At 02:16 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • James wrote:

I can't understand why people are so negative about the IDS proposals.

Those critical of the plans surely accept the underlying premise that Britain is a broken society: the gap between rich and poor has increased, many people are disenchanted and disenfranchised, violent crime is increasing (why on earth did Blair have a "respect agenda" if everything is alright?).

Once you accept the premise you have to come up with solutions. One of the IDS proposals is to alter the tax system to assist those who are married. Its one of a number of good ideas!

On the marriage point, given that research shows that marriage promotes stable relationships -a good thing- then surely that is something to support since it MAY assist in tackling a broken society. It is inverted snobbery to say that ONLY the rich would make use of a transferable tax allowance.

A question to those who have dismissed this story as simply the Tories living in the past: have you bothered to read the whole of the report and seen the suggestions about marriage in context?

If you have not then stop criticising and go and read it

  • 43.
  • At 02:22 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • andrew friday wrote:

Readers might like to take a look at this mornings Sydney Morning Herald website and a thought provoking piece about housing affordability in Australia.
Seems like politicians the world over are putting the "cart before the horse" on this issue.
Affordable or cheaper housing, as with any other tradeable good or service, merely increases the propensity to consume. That is, it raises demand. Making it artificially cheaper for a select few merely raises the rate of increased demand above what it would naturally have been.
If simply increasing supply were the planned option this could stabilise or bring down prices.
But my simple guess would be that to court re-election Mr Brown & Co. will also go for lowering the cost of this increased supply - longer, fixed rate mortgages, additional tax relief....
Guess what? This will coax even more demand than would otherwise be the case from our naturally expanding population and hence derail the supposed benefits of any planned increase in supply!
So, as a homeowner apart from probably decrying yet more green spaces concreted over with ghastly new (cheap) homes, I can probably sit by and steadily see the value of my home and those of the "lucky" initial new homeowners with "cheaper" homes (thanks Gordon) appreciate because demand will continue to outstrip supply. (Look at free health and education as guidelines to what state intervention can do to distort markets...)
In 10-15 years time we will be back to square one where the marketplace has once again bid up the cost of all homes on the market.
Lower interest rates for ALL of us over the past 10-15 years have done more to inflate house prices and hence wage multiple to house price indices than anything that a supposed shortage of supply has done.
Political dynamite maybe, but higher interest rates sounds like the simplest means to lower house prices and with less cost to the environment!

  • 44.
  • At 02:24 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Mick wrote:

Another Davie knee jerk, another pathetic statement from one of the worst Tory leaders I have ever came across, pretty boy Dave its time you kept quite, because every time you come out with some proposal , you lose another few thousand potential voters. People have had enough of this glossy shiny politics just get your head down for a few months and when you have got something positive to say, say it, but first you must decide what side of the fence you are actually on, dithering no policy Davie the job is far to big for you.

  • 45.
  • At 02:39 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Sara wrote:

The document does, by the way, apparently apply to gay marriages as well as heterosexual ones, which is interesting. I wonder how long that will take to work its way into the debate?

  • 46.
  • At 02:41 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Peter Holland wrote:

Second homes and buy-to-lets have to be curbed if we are to make housing affordable in the longer term.

Also we need to make it far more attractive for people to let out the many thousands of flats above shops that are currently empty. It's ludcrous that this isn't being considered.

I have been a buy-to-let investor for about 8 years because it's very favourable, but I have to admit that it does nothing for society or the economy, it fact it does harm. I would phase in the scrapping the offsetting mortgage interest against income for tax.

  • 47.
  • At 02:45 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Londonder wrote:

Much as Alex might like to get married, keep his little wife at home etc, I don't see why I as a single taxpayer should pay for his choices. I have to pay a mortgage from a single salary, not two. Nor why children of parents who choose not to marry should be penalised. And not many people seem to have noticed the small print in Cameron's statement, that single parents will be "expected" to go back to work at certain stages. His missing next sentence will be... "or their benefits will be cut". So much for supporting families.

  • 48.
  • At 02:48 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Charlie Peters wrote:

Although I think the tories are wrong on this issue - and that have despite spending large amounts of time on this wide-ranging document, are wrong on their proposals for marriage. They need to look harder at helping poorer couples, and not sliding "back to basics" policies, that kind of backward thinking makes the tories seem outdated, trying to grasp at some golden age which just wasn't there. Society, for the last 50 years, has chased a material lifestyle, and we, in a sense are living in a material golden age. That can not be argued against, despite it being a temporary fix with spiralling debt that needs to be curbed at the possible expense of our high street addicition. It is a classic mistake - the answer to the problems of the material want of the 50's are worse, arguably, than the solution - which sacrifices a large amount of society and community, and a sense of togetherness among neighbours.
It is a cultural problem which will tae a generation to correct, although society isn't exactly in the pits, and we are still culturally aware of ourselves and other in our new, vibrant society of different faiths and creeds.
I disagree with the tories on many things, but it is refreshing to see both parties thumping out big policies on big issues, with a government and an opposition that offer real credibility, difference and positive, progressive attitudes. I just hope Cameron doesn'0 become a puppet of the old right, which still dominates Conservatism, and may always do so.

  • 49.
  • At 02:57 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • D Jones wrote:

Jill Clayton - you are a hero!

How can Brown's Scottishness and seat in Scotland be an issue?

The Scottish 'Parliament' is just increased decentralisation and local government, which everyone seems to want. Yet, when increased local government is proposed for England, in the sensible shape of regional assemblies, the self-same people are up in arms.

The idea of an 'English Parliament' is just a nationalistic red herring - the country would be almost the same size as the UK anyway (over 80%) so how would government responsiveness be improved?

This 'England as victim' nonsense is just reactionary demagogic rubbish.

Down with all nationalists.

  • 50.
  • At 03:01 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Mark Johnson wrote:

Can we have a rational debate fit for the 21st century. Statements like 'Tax breaks marriage - sounds like another scheme for the rich subsidised by the poor' are outdated and factually incorrect. The reality is that regular working families have a massive direct and indirect burden - the very people now described as 'rich' and 'middle class'. The reality is that the poor do not pay tax in the UK unless they smoke, drink or gamble.

I was brought up by a single parent in a tough council estate. I was however taught love, respect and to do my best. However, I consider I 'survived' the circumstances of my upbringing, because of those basic values learned from the actions of my mother.

The fact is we have created a multi-generational dependency culture of welfare in the UK unlike no other in the world. We should value marriage and responsibility for ones contribution to society. Instead too many people expect the government to take care of them, funded by the taxes paid by the hard-working 'rich'.

Ask yourself 'what can I give' rather than 'what can I get'. If you ever wanted to know what is wrong with society try this simple test: pick up litter in a park or street. See how many people thank you and how many abuse you. Whilst there is much to be proud of in the UK, an anti-social and idle minority are degrading the quality of life for the rest and absorbing a disproportionate amount of the countries hard earned resources.

The fact is that 'marriage' and 'respect' are fundamental to a societies well being, becuase they are both acts of service to others.

  • 51.
  • At 03:07 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Geoff Barker wrote:

As a buy to let landlord with 3 mortgaged properties, bought to supplement a pension fund that is sufficient to preclude me from means tested benfits but not large enough to secure a comfortable retirement, I would like to speak in defence of the buy to let community. 7 years into these investments I am still unable to cover the costs from rental income alone,subsidising them from earned income to the tune of Ł2-3K per year. Tenants are unable or unwilling to change even a light bulb let alone clear leaves from a drain, resulting in weekly call out charges for very minor works. As for capital appreciation, the market where these flats are situated has barely moved for 5 years. My situation is significantly better than most. No sympathy is sought or required but understand that removing the limited tax breaks, inflating Council tax etc to discourage such investments, apart from reducing a useful source of subsidised housing, could inflict considerable collateral damage on the economy. Many who provide support services to this industry from cleaners, plumbers and electricians to estate agents, bank and building society staff, solicitors and many others would lose a substantial income. Rent can perhaps be described as dead money but then so is building society interest. If you are in rented accomodation then, provided of course that the property is in good condition, far from envying your landlord, you should perhaps raise a glass and thank him or her for subsidising the roof over your head. Remove the tax breaks, increase council tax and it will be reflected in your rent. I suspect Mr Brown understands this point or he would already have moved against us.

  • 52.
  • At 03:10 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • freddie wrote:

A points victory for Brown on this one. Fact: people will connect more with a "housing, health, education" message than the marriage/family rehashed message.

Brown has made a couple of nervy mistakes so far but not a bad start. I do think Cameron can become a heavyweight eventually, so we're in for an interesting next couple of years...

  • 53.
  • At 03:10 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Felicity Morris wrote:

While I support and like the look of the new tory policies, I cant help but think they havent quite done their homework with the married tax break with one parent at home. As this already exists. Currently if one spouse doesnt work they can call the tax office and give their working spouse their tax breaks. Giving one partner 10440 to earn before tax. working out at an extra �20 a week. But only for married couples. Isnt that the same?

  • 54.
  • At 03:31 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • chets wrote:

Japan has no immigration but arelatively strong economy

  • 55.
  • At 03:39 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Barbara wrote:

Anthony Smith is exactly right in saying that marriage is a symptom of a more ambitious and forward thinking personality. It's also right that anyone in power should do their best to help poorer communities. But I don't see how the currently trendy beating of the "middle classes" can help. Why shouldn't people work, often incredibly hard, to ensure the well being and future happiness of their family?
Although aspiration, creativity, personal responsibility and forward thinking may be nurtured to an extent by coming from a background where these qualities are respected, they are qualities that would allow any person from any background to be happy and successful.
I'm a 30 year old woman, who has worked very hard to get where I am - likewise my partner. Yet there is no way on earth we could afford to have a dishwasher, let alone children. Bring on marriage tax breaks, it might actually help me feel less victimised by the government.

  • 56.
  • At 03:44 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Will Thorman wrote:

Cameron is not giving a tax break to married couples. What is being proposed is that a couple's income (married or civil partnership) can be recognised as a single unit in the tax system. Everyone has a personal tax allowance before they start paying tax. By formally joining with another person you can join your tax allowances together, if you choose.

This makes complete sense and is actually a fairer system than at present. It does not reward marriage or civil partnerships. What it does do is stop penalising couples who feel that one partner should stay at home and look after the kids. The current situation is as follows:

Couple A
W earns 15k
X earns 10k
Total income 25k. They each get 5k tax allowance, so as a couple they get 10k tax free and pay tax on 15k. They pay tax on 60% of their income.

Couple B
Y earns 20k
Z stays at home to look after the kids.
Total income 20k (5k less than couple A) but they only get 5k tax allowance so pay tax on 15k. They pay tax on 75% of their income.

By allowing Z to transfer their allowance to Y, this proposal would mean that both couples are treated the same. What is wrong with that!

Where incomes break into the 40% bracket the situation is even worse. A couple earning 60k together could pay less tax than a couple earning 50k.


I think that in order to encourage mothers to stay at home until children are of school age, the government should allow the mother's tax relief to be transferred to the father and in addition there should be an extra tax relief for that period including maternity leave. What are we talking here 4 years these days.

If the mother has more children then the y would have to apply for tax relief each time.

This would encourage married couples to have their children looked after by the mother for at least the first 4 years which seems to be the most important in terms of future behaviour for children.

  • 58.
  • At 03:52 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

It seems to me that reading a lot of the posts there is a common theme. That is, that society in general is in need of re-discovering its way, whatever religious or moral persuasion is applicable. The Welfare State it seems, has been abused to the point, where, if we are not careful, it will collapse. It costs the UK (yes, us the taxpayer!!!) Tens of BILLIONS per year to provide Welfare Cover for the population. The point of the Welfare State when it was created in 1948 was to provide a safety net to those members of our community who needed help and support. At the time an ideal notion and very commendable. However, what we have seen develop over the years is a systematic abuse of the "system"to peoples own ends, from those who do not wish to work, to those who see that having a child is a way of achieving housing and benefits as an acceptable way of life. This does not provide sound building blocks for our future. David Cameron's idea of a back to basics approach does have considerable merits. The family has for thousands of years and still does today form the basic unit of society. Therefore a return to these family values is of vital importance if we are to thrive and survive as a society.

  • 59.
  • At 03:53 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Paul from Wales wrote:

My Mother was brought up by a single parent, as my grandfather was killed in the 2nd World War. Mum turned out alright and so did her brother and sister, despite my Nan having no handouts and having to hold down 3 jobs. Single parenting per se isn't the problem.

What I think the real issue behind today's family break-ups is that the state appears to aid and abet Mothers who disobey Court Orders by failing to give permitted and agreed access to Fathers and Grandparents - this is where the break-up is - the wilful destruction of the family support to children, which could potentially continue after divorce.

So, if Cameron wants to make an impact, why doesn't he be radical and link CSA payments by the Father to Court Order access rights. Equal Parenting & Grand Parenting Rights is THE big issue.

  • 60.
  • At 04:02 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • simon wrote:

At last we have something approaching left and right again!! Cameron's done exactly what the country needed him to do, confirmed that the Tories haven't changed one jot since 1979! Sprouting policies designed to make the rich richer. Should stop 'em getting elected a while longer...
As for Brown, no wonder he was champing at the bit to get Blair out of the way! I might even vote Labour (well there's gotta be a first for everything!)

  • 61.
  • At 04:03 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Martin Philpott wrote:

As a lifelong conservative voter I like Brown and am more sceptical about Cameron as a suitable Tory PM.

No matter who leads the opposition (and Hague is certainly the best orator on those benches) they are hamstrung by the past and are as divided as ever.

  • 62.
  • At 04:05 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Andrew Dundas wrote:

I recall that a high proportion of French couples are not legally married yet do not suffer the consequences described by Conservatives.

There is another explanation for this eccentric proposal. Many Conservative Party members are older married women who gave up work many years ago. They are jealous of the freedoms young mothers now enjoy. And they'd like to pay less tax.

Which is understandable, but shouldn't drive policy.

  • 63.
  • At 04:05 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Jim P wrote:

Felicity (No 53)

This only works if you were born before 1935, or are blind. Unfortunately neither criteria applies to myself, or my hard working, bringing up the 3 under 8 kids at home, wife. However I fully support the principle and would dearly love to see it implemented, for the benefit of society, not just myself. I do not however, agree that a marriage certificate should be a pre requisite - why not merely voluntary transfer between loving couples?

  • 64.
  • At 04:18 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Craig Wood wrote:

It baffles me to hear people come out and say "I've come across girls whose main ambition is to get pregnant before 16 and milk the system forever..'

This is complete nonsense. I am 23, I've got myself through a degree and now have a prosperous career. I have come into contact with people from all walks of life, ranging from privately educated individuals to people from broken families, and i have not once come across a young girl who fits the description given. In fact most young girls are terrified of having a child young, just ask a 15yr old how she feels when she finds out she is going to have a child.

Simply saying society shouldn't help is simply ridiculous. What we have to do is educate people about the consequences that come with their actions because I'll tell you why the 15yr old is terrified when she finds out she is pregnant, its because it is the first time she has realised the responsibility she is taking on.

  • 65.
  • At 04:33 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • John Jones wrote:

So we suddenly need 2 million more homes, I wonder what happened to those 700,000 empty houses we had in 2005, (which has probably increased since then).
There reason that we have a alleged "housing shortage" is that there are empty houses in areas where people do not wish to live and not enough in the "nice areas". So it is pointless building in areas with low demand which will mean even more houses in the south where the demand is. What will happen with 2 million more homes being built, does the price go down on existing homes ? Do we need more hospitals, schools etc in those areas ?
Maybe if we restricted immigration and promoted married life there would be less need to 2 million more homes. ?

  • 66.
  • At 04:35 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • MK wrote:

Cameron's got a cheek pretending 'we've heard it all before' considering the stuff he's been belating on about.
Harking back to a golden age that never was and pretending societies ills just need a few quid off of the tax bill if you're married.

  • 67.
  • At 04:43 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Bob Watts wrote:

I used to live in the UK about fifteen years ago. I now live in Mexico. Up untill a year ago I had a house in the UK which I rented in order to pay the mortgage. But the tax system changed and I decided to sell up and cut most of my ties with the UK.
Here in Mexico only the rich buy their housed ready made. The poor make their own brick by brick.
Unfortunately this is not possible in the UK due to building laws.
pity really. But that's progress for you.

  • 68.
  • At 04:44 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Geraint wrote:

Isn't the housing problem down to the fact that this government have allowed people to over invest in property? We have people owning 10 plus properties on buy to let and therefore driving the prices up. They should have taxed them significantly to make it less beneficial to own buy to let properties, therefore keeping the prices down for everyone.

  • 69.
  • At 04:47 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Stuart Brown wrote:

Whatever happened to the Tory ideal of free choice and self determination? This smacks of tinkering and interfering in areas that should not concern governments. I'll vote for any party that promises to leave us alone and let us get on with it!

  • 70.
  • At 04:50 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • James wrote:

I applaud Mark Johnsons comments. It tends to become very tiresome reading post after post filled with sneering bile. My background is very similar to Marks. Now I'm married with two children and I run a successful business with year on year growth. Each year Brown concocts yet more insidious ways to extract additional taxes from me. Now, can any of you tell me how the supposed poor pay my taxes? I think most of the comment authors on this page would probably prefer me to throw the towel in ask the state for support. 'Long live Labour and the welfare state dependancy they have created'! I think not.

  • 71.
  • At 05:00 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • GH wrote:

This government needs to address the bigger issues and stop trying to fix things that aren't and never were broken!

Our health service is in tatters and underfunded, education is laughable as teachers aren't being supported and kids are free to run riot because discipline is not enforced - it can't be because liberals decided that would be bad.

No, instead, the government is spending more on prison meals than meals for our children. And they're releasing prisoners early rather than building new prisons to accomodate them. Perhaps if there was discipline rather than left wing PC, there would be less people in prison. After all, how is it a deterrant when you can watch cable TV, get decent food and a bed, and don't have to work? They should be out building the new motorways and train tracks - after all, they couldn't do a worse job than Metronet or Jarvis.

We've been in two wars which the public wanted no part of, and people are living on benefits in preference to working as they're better off!

I don't think I've ever been so sad to be considered English. Labour have ruined this country and I'm not sure we can ever make it great again.

Cameron's idea of giving married couples better priveleges is fine by me, although he needs stronger political ideas; we should be fighting to promote a more stable family environment at home, rather than encouraging young mums to have kids and try and survive off benefits - it's no way to live, and no matter what people say, I believe it's important for children to have both a mother AND father figure, and if that's possible then we should support that.

Family values, and respect seem to be becoming a distant memory in this country and it's perhaps the one thing I admire about the US - for all their attempts to "police the world", they still maintain a community at home, and people are polite to each other.

  • 72.
  • At 05:00 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Justin Flook wrote:

Gordon trounced the cretin Cameron at todays PMQ's.

Since he became PM, Gordon Brown has rocketed in my estimation. He's got principles, intellect and, as he is keen to point out, substance.

The imbeciles that make up the Tory Party should be very worried. It'll be a cold day in hell before they win another election.

  • 73.
  • At 05:12 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Jon Rosling wrote:

Londonder (comment 47) - why shouldn't single parents go back to work once their children are in education? Why should I, as a tax payer, pay for anyone to sit at home all day for no apparent reason other than they're a single parent? If, as a single parent, you want the benefits of a good life go out and damn well earn it like the rest of us (whether we're single parents or not!)

  • 74.
  • At 05:24 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

D Jones (post number 49) you are missing the point entirely. The Scotland/England issue is no longer about nationalism its about accountability and democracy. No regional assemblies have been proposed in England which have anything like the powers of the Scottish Parliament or even the Welsh Assembly. If anyone is trying to make it about nationalism it is the Scots, not the English. After all, it is the scots who have voted into power a party and a first minister whose avowed intent is a separate and independent nation of Scotland. Meanwhile Scottish constituencies vote for MPs (including party leaders and prime ministers) who have no influence over education, transport, health and social security in their own backyards but can roll up at Westminster to tell the English how they should run these matters here in England. Anyone who can't see that this is a democratic travesty is more shortsighted, misguided and dangerous than anyone who supports an english parliament. History teaches us that a democratic vacuum is often filled, usually violently, by extremism or dictatorship (sometimes both). These are big issues which need serious attention, you try and reduce them to petty administrative matters at your peril.

  • 75.
  • At 05:24 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

With regards to the comments made in entry 53 - 'Currently if one spouse doesnt work they can call the tax office and give their working spouse their tax breaks.' I discussed this with the HM Customs and This has NOT been the case for sometime. Actually not since the married persons allowance was dropped.

  • 76.
  • At 05:28 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Ugly Betty wrote:

Is it not bad enough that so many of us singletons are just too plain ugly to find a partner to marry, without us having to fund the good-lookers in middle England's tax breaks? Another thing. Since 'marriage' is supposed to aid stability and through that, the lives of our children, will Mr Cameron support tax breaks for civil partnerships?

  • 77.
  • At 05:57 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Nick,
What are the real reasons for “More Affordable Houses”?

Answer, medium to long term Gordon needs as much money as possible to fund Labours irresponsible policies such as the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and the knock on effect of increased Terrorism. All will be simmering decades from now. Uncontrolled immigration also leads to an extra housing requirement. The immigrants, legal and otherwise, need somewhere to live. What will be the final bill for the Identity Card scheme? . The list is endless.

One final thought, Gordon is looking to the future with his Chancellors hat still in place!! Labours inefficient excesses will carry on and he is banking on the double effect of the increase in house prices from all the "extra houses" and fiscal drag to maximise his Government’s Inheritance Tax take.

  • 78.
  • At 06:04 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Clive Higgins wrote:

I took the opportunity of doing 2 things before I wrote this.
First I read Ian Duncan Smiths report that actually gives well considered and researched SUGGESTIONS that can be used to mould formal Conservative Policy. It runs to just under 700 pages some 6,500 words of which under 200 discuss tax breaks.

Second I read the 53 so far Posts. Its difficult to believe that most of them have been submitted other than by someone who has done nothing more than scan the very selective tabloid media for their knee jerk reaction.

Like it or not, I cannot believe anyone would seriously argue that British Society is not broken. How many eamples would you like me to list ?
It is, I believe the responsibility of our elected representatives, no guys you are not our masters, to promote structures that create a healthy society. A stable two parent structure is better for the perpetuation of society as it gives the best chance of providing a new generation. Yes I know lots of single parents do a good job but its not ideal. Now whether you call that stable relationship marriage or whether society creates another form of binding contract is a different debate but the need is for a relationship that is reasonably binding on both parties otherwise its all too easy to just walk away, (and leave the rest of us to pick up the bill.) Particularly as the existing system does actually reward you for doing so.
In case you disagree, I have on my desk an affidavit submitted by my ex daughter in law in pursuit of her claim to half my sons house after 10 months of marriage.Her contribution was zero, case you are wondering. She complains most indignantly that her income, all derived from state benefit because she " does not believe in working " is only 17,320 pounds per year, that's 1,443 per month, net, in her hand and just happens to be 15% greater than the after tax take home pay of the average British worker.
Who is going to persuade me, or any other Brit that this is right Perhaps we should, before dismissing Ian Duncan Smiths research out of hand without actually reading it, consider the effects of the alternatives that our Government have created and sensibly debate where the incentives and isincentives should be.

  • 79.
  • At 07:10 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

Why weren't they doing anything about house prices rocketing out of reach on the back of cheap credit 5 years ago? All they needed to do was include house prices in the inflation index and interest rates would have been raised, and the whole mess the market is now facing would have been avoided. Instead they've built the mother of all bubbles.

The UK economy and markets inevitably follow the US lead - just watch the stock market if you have any doubt. Now that the US housing market is heading south fast, the UK cannot be far behind, especially with interest rates set to rise further. So quite typically, we'll see the government finally creating more supply just after a flood of repossessions and panicky BTLs selling up hit the market.

They've fuelled a bubble, now the same incompetence will intensify the crash.

  • 80.
  • At 07:22 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:

Nick,
What are the real reasons for “More Affordable Houses”?

Answer, medium to long term Gordon needs as much money as possible to fund Labours irresponsible policies such as the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan and the knock on effect of increased Terrorism. All will be simmering decades from now. Uncontrolled immigration also leads to an extra housing requirement. The immigrants, legal and otherwise, need somewhere to live. What will be the final bill for the Identity Card scheme? . The list is endless.

One final thought, Gordon is looking to the future with his Chancellors hat still in place!! Labours inefficient excesses will carry on and he is banking on the double effect of the increase in house prices from all the "extra houses" and fiscal drag to maximise his Government’s Inheritance Tax take.

  • 81.
  • At 07:28 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Mark Williams wrote:

Funny how there seems to be a lot of anti-Conservative spinning at present in the BBC. This week we have had the IDS proposal to fund alcohol treatment described as a swingeing tax on alcohol. 7p a pint is hardly swingeing.

Then we have the Emily Maitlis affair. Apparently it is OK for one Newsnight presenter to invite a Labour First Minister to their Mallorca hliday home, but it is not acceptable for another Newsnight presenter to have a column in the Spectator.

Now we have Nick's penultimate sentance in the first paragraph quoted on the BBC News fron page:
"Some close to Brown think that the Tory leader's made a strategic mistake by looking retro not modern and pessimistic not optimistic about the future of society."

Trouble is he followed that by "I wonder", which kind of twists the meaning.

Any chance of some impartial journalism?

  • 82.
  • At 07:46 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Neil Wilson wrote:

Renting is only dead money if house prices continue to outstrip inflation - to the disadvantage of us all.

Buying houses is a British obsession. Other countries would rather invest their money in the productive economy.

  • 83.
  • At 08:01 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • G King wrote:

Why is it that by supporting the institution of marriage that David Cameron gets criticised? It ought to be actively encouraged and embraced as the most appropriate familiy setting- what is so awful about that? Am I missing the point?

  • 84.
  • At 08:03 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Martin wrote:

Families aren't necessarily richer were the wife stays home.My wife and I live in Bootle which is a poor area. We could move to a better off area if she worked but she doesn't because we believe it's better for our children to be looked after by a parent. We would struggle more if it wasn't for tax credits. We benefit more from these because we are on a lower income. I don't think the tories would have introduced tax credits and I'd be interested to know if they support them now. I know women who say they'd like to stay home but they 'can't' afford it. These people generally own houses worth 300,000. Replace 'can't' with 'won't' and I'd agree.

  • 85.
  • At 08:52 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • jack wrote:

back to basics.... was ids one of the fringe nuts who hijacked major's campaign and turned it into some moralising rubbish?

  • 86.
  • At 10:36 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • HClark wrote:

Two kinds of houses are needed: council houses and, for the feckless and the freeloaders, workhouses. Discuss.

  • 87.
  • At 11:20 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Jason wrote:

Do we really need tax incentives for marrige? Don't we have record numbers of marriages and divorces? I very much doubt a few extra pound a week will keep together couples who would otherwise split up!

Social problems are linked to poor education and poverty. Improving these = more options. Personal aspirations are more closely linked with all of the negative socials problems we have. Way back, post 11 got it correct- 'Marriage is a symptom of better life chances not a cause of them.'

A piece paper titled 'marriage certificate' is totally worthless.

And with regards to housing the only option to bringing down rental costs is either massive investment into council housing (more competition) or enforcing landlords to set rent at 'acceptable' levels based on average local incomes etc. Any financial penalities will simply be passed on by landlords in the same way that interest rate rises are now etc.

  • 88.
  • At 11:29 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • J. Humphrys wrote:

What exactly does Cameron mean when he says U.K. society is 'broken'? The UK is a vibrant changing society with glitches; seems normal to me in my low - income west London suburb. His tactic is insulting.
Maybe he should take a trip to Port au Prince and check out a real 'broken society' - maybe he could mend Haiti too. They'd probably be happy with a few patches... David Cameron the tailor politician.

  • 89.
  • At 11:44 PM on 11 Jul 2007,
  • Roy Taylor wrote:

Brown is absolutely right to make the achievement of affordable housing his target. We are in a situation where our local average wage is 25% below the national average income and house prices are some 10% above the average. The house price to income ratio is currently 10.5 to 1.
Why then do his government planning inspectors grant appeals from developers who do not wish to provide affordable housing via Section 106 agreements??? This is crazy!
I have been trying to change government policy for more than four years and it has seemed that no one cares or is listening.
At least we have a statement of intent, let us see what is the outcome. Not a Labour supporter.

  • 90.
  • At 04:27 AM on 12 Jul 2007,
  • michael brimacombe wrote:

I am 100% behind tax breaks for married people. I am devorced and i would not of stayed for tax breaks. But that is not the point.The best way to bring up children is within a good marriage.Anyone who cannot see that in my opinion is stupid.Far better for the countries future for more help to be given to married couples with children than to layabouts on bennefits!

  • 91.
  • At 07:44 AM on 12 Jul 2007,
  • Ken W wrote:

Tories brand lone parents as bad parents


JEL said "Widowed parents get stuffed by our society all ways at once: the last thing we need is a con-man telling the world we're feckless."

Not just widow[er]s are being branded in this way by the new Tory "policies".

A friend of mine was abandoned by her husband when their baby was a few weeks old - the poor thing couldn't cope with nappies, crying and disturbed nights!

After two years of constant struggle, she has just returned to work - helping handicapped and disadvantaged young people. Childcare is by far the biggest item in her budget: �30-�50 a day, depending on hours, and more if she works evening/night shifts.

I think she deserves favourable treatment from the tax system more than any couple, married or otherwise, who either have two incomes, or choose to have only one.

We saw the TV coverage of IDS out and about in the housing schemes of Glasgow. Didn't he learn how hard single parents have to struggle?

  • 92.
  • At 08:03 AM on 12 Jul 2007,
  • Richard Doran wrote:

Taxation is frequently used to influence behaviour. Look at all the environmental taxes. I am not convinced they always work, but what politicians must do is to put the traditional family unit at least back onto a level footing with some of the modern variants. For society, and for those lucky enough to be part of one, the tradition family unit has enormous benefits.
Marriage is not just about religion. It is not about moralising. Marriage is a public declaration to your community and society that you are a couple and intend to remain so for life.
It is not unreasonable for society to expect such a promise from those it helps to support.
If a transferable married allowance is intended to encourage the nuclear family unit and to improve stability for children, then it should not come in to play until the birth of the first child, and only at basic rate tax. It should also not disadvantage the widowed parent.
Marriage has been recognised for thousands of years as the foundation of a cohesive society. Let us not dismiss the Conservative report out of hand just because it does not seem to be "modern".

  • 93.
  • At 09:03 AM on 12 Jul 2007,
  • Alistair Wilson wrote:

G Taylor -

�Its so very easy, prosecute under age teenagers for having children and stop giving them masses of money instead�

I'm intrigued yet again at the simplistic knee jerk approach of people such as yourself to the problems of others. You think you have a logical answer based on punishment. The horrifying attitude you show to others in your society actually accentuates the problem.

Are you able to consider for one moment the deeper issues that lead young children to bear more young children with several different fathers? What has brought them to a stage where their own self esteem is so low that they have a desperate need to create a new individual that they hope will love them unconditionally?

I think not.

�I see the PM still wants Home Information Packs to be introduced, what an idiot!�

Is this another considered viewpoint? How many purchases, of any item, are you prepared to make based on a cursory glance at the packaging? Will you then spend your own money in large quantities to check its fitness for purpose afterwards, with a view to discarding both when you discover it is actually faulty? This is not about your poor opinion of a particular profession, but a responsibilty on the seller to ensure that the correct and appropriate factual information is available to the buyer being asked to make a singularly important choice.

ďż˝ So if you can't beat them, join them. I think I'll pack in my job at which I work 60 hours a week get plastered, get stoned and get supported by Mr Brown's bunch and watch daytime telly and do nothing that benefits the community ďż˝

I'm sure that the idle, the poorly educated, the deprived, the abused, the dispossessed and the persecuted are even now realising the error of their ways.

No doubt you will also be stopping the extensive contributions to charity you currently make, you will no longer be calling on your elderly neighbours with a few phrases of encouragement or offers of help, you will be removing your name from the list of local causes you currently support for the good of your community, your involvement in local politics which shape the society and environment you are keen to improve will cease, and lastly your efforts to reduce, reuse or recycle will be abandoned in favour of all out flytipping!!!!

  • 94.
  • At 09:25 AM on 12 Jul 2007,
  • Andrew wrote:

Is the Lib Dem announcement today a continuation of this theme? Are the new 'lower tax' Liberals assuming a traditionally Tory position to fill a vacuum left by David Cameron's conservatives moving onto different agendas?

As a Lib Dem member I'm quite enthusiastic about the proposal; I think it's not only a justifiable policy, but a good way to help retain former Conservative voters in close constituencies now that the Conservatives are having something of a resurgence.

  • 95.
  • At 11:08 AM on 12 Jul 2007,
  • Lindy wrote:

Yes..I'm another person concerned-worried-and in need of n explanation as to why governments, whatever their denomination think that everyone wants to own their own home. Yes, nice if you can afford it, but what if you can't ? ?. We have hardly any council housing stock in Wales or England, and having carried out some investigations of my own we don't have plans to build or renew the stock.
The local councils also seem to be oblivious to the empty somewhat run down houses that are scattered around our neighbourhoods.
Put some money into renovating these properties please and allocate them fairly.

  • 96.
  • At 11:11 AM on 12 Aug 2007,
  • Hypocon wrote:

While the Window dressing is slow to change, neither of these parties are overt about what is being taken off the counter with no one's consent. People with Learning Difficulties face wholesale eviction, along with those with MH needs - in fact Continuing Care is under the Axe, if you look at the whittling away at funding for all these people that has taken place year on year. These groups need MORE funding if they are to integrate without social upheaval and disruptive impacts on Communities said to be accommodating them. Campbell may be more articulate on this, but for the rest, we have been brushed back under the carpet for someone else to deal with. Some of us do not even have the VOTE!

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