Saturday, 13 October 2007
In sickness and in wealth
It's my third wedding anniversary this weekend. Three years ago today Roz and I tied the knot in a wonderful catholic service at Westminster Cathedral. It seemed half of Kerry came over for the big day and we had sore heads for a few days after!
We decided to marry for three main reasons - commitment, a desire to show the world that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with each other and most importantly, love. I'm pretty sure young couples will always make that decision along the same lines.
I'm equally convinced that when a young man goes down on bended knee and gazes into his lover's eyes he won't say: "Marry me darling - the tax credit is a compelling fiscal argument for our martimonial merger."
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Andy Burnham claims that rewarding married couples through the tax system is just his personal view I do hope it stays that way.
My best man was Colin. He has two lovely kids and a great partner. But they chose not to marry and it works for them. So why should they miss out on a tax cut just because they're not Mr and Mrs Turner? They're a very stable and loving family, they're great parents and they work hard to give their children everything they need. So why should they subsidise married couples? Whether you like it or not, moving to such a system would be judgemental.
After a bruising couple of weeks and unfair accusations that we have just lifted Tory policies on non doms and inheritance tax (and that £600,000 threshold is only available to married couples) do we really need to be seen to be following Cameron's lead again by having a debate on how to encourage or reward marriage through the tax system?
We know funding's going to be tight over the next year but I think there are much greater priorities in Britain - a fairer deal for our pensioners, employment rights for temporary and agency workers and building more affordable homes and council houses - than a tax break for Mr and Mrs Smith.