A Level Politics

Improving your grade

Conservatism and the family

Posted by Matt Walker on January 20, 2010

An important aspect of conservative ideology is a strong belief in the nuclear family. It is believed that the presence of both mother and father is absolutely necessary to successfully bring up children.

If, for example, father is not present, then children will lack the necessary male role model in their life, will be ill-disciplined, and more likely to behave poorly, possibly right through to adulthood. From this point of view, crime is the result of family breakdown.

Today’s Conservative Party still holds to this view. If they win the next election the Tories plan to introduce a tax allowance for married couples, although they are a little unclear about the timing of such a tax reform. David Cameron has said about this policy, that "if you take responsibility you will be rewarded, if you don’t you won’t". In other words, the only responsible family unit is the nuclear family.

Labour’s Ed Balls has accused the Conservatives of ‘social engineering’. He means that the Tories are planning to change society – in this case the nature of the family – by offering tax cuts for certain types of behaviour.

But I think it is Nick Clegg’s response which catches the imagination. He said: “It is immensely unfair. What does it mean for the poor woman who has been left by some philandering husband who goes on to another marriage and gets the tax break and she doesn’t?"

Do you think governments should try to influence behaviour in this way? Is the nuclear family morally superior to say, the single parent family?

Tory plans for married couples tax breaks under fire


11 Responses to “Conservatism and the family”

  1. Sam Dalton said

    It is when the Tories come up with policies like this that you feel proud to be Labour or Liberal. You would’ve thought they’d learnt a few lessons in the last hundred years or so, but it seems David Cameron is still living in the past.

    Surely the British public dont agree with this policy? It will mean people will get married and stay together for all the wrong reasons, probably harming children’s upbringing much more than a stable, single parent would do.

  2. Emma Marshall said

    I agree, now nearly 45% of all marriages in the UK end in divorce. Surely it’s better to not get married at all, than to get married and go through an even traumatising divorce a few years later. It’s not sustainable, people will see it as a way of saving money during the recession, and then if it’s not meant to be then they’ll just turn around and think the cut in taxes isn’t worth being married to someone that you don’t want to be married to. It must affect children’s behaviour more having to go through the breakdown of a marriage.

  3. Cassidy Gaffney said

    I hate to say it but i agree too, with this policy Cameron is just trying to work on the image of the country instead of its political and financial welfare. However even when the Conservatives come up with dim-witted schemes such as this its still a big stretch to say that it is worse than some of the things labour stand for, the lisbon treaty for example.

  4. adyhorne said

    I don’t understand how you are saying these things! if single mothers are encouraged by labours lack of understanding then the family will break down, and many single mothers will be taking the publics money just because they can. its an incentive not to be married. Family values and balances are the most important thing in a childs life, it needs balance which a only one parent cannot give. Camerons got this one spot on.

  5. Will Hazell said

    Being parented well is the most important thing in a child’s life, to say that it can only be obtained with two parents is foolish. I know people with two parents who are horrible and off the rails and I know plenty of people who have a single parent who are good as can be.

    Get back to reality David Cameron and away from your day dreams.

  6. MarthaTonks said

    I agree with the point that a single parent is more than capable to bring up a child successfully, but surely it is a positive thing to promote familes, im sure most would agree that children would prefer to have both a mother and a father to parent them, and surely this law is to benfit children, rather than degrade single parents who are not married.
    Although, perhaps it would be best if Cameron focused on policies which would help the majority of the country, rather than trying to save us from the horrors of ‘broken britain’.

  7. Becky Guest said

    I agree with Ady and Martha that Cameron has a point. He’s not saying that a good upbringing cannot be obtained with only one parent but a family with two parents is what we should be striving towards as for most, that is the ideal.
    There are many reasons why people don’t get married or end up in a single parent family. Whatever the reason, it brings rewards and penalties in many different ways and on many levels, just because it involves money it isn’t necessarily a punishment to those who don’t apply; those of us who don’t qualify for EMA aren’t being punished for having parents who earn over a certain amount.
    Cameron can’t aim to pass out cash to everyone, it’s just that this policy does appears to be aimed against a minority.

  8. Charlie Bollaan said

    I’m not even surprised by this ridiculous policy which can be put alongside the stupid inheritance tax cuts. My mum has been in 3 marriages in my life time and can tell you that giving a tax break to a married couple will do nothing in promoting/holding together a relationship ‘can’t buy me love’

    also lets take a look at McCabe… his poor parents are married

  9. Sam Dalton said

    Martha – you say families should be promoted, but alot of families have parents who are not married, yet they are still just as good at bringing up their children. Where is their reward in this?

  10. Cassidy Gaffney said

    Ady’s right there are single mothers out there exploiting the system but the answer isnt to tip the scale the other way and have people getting married to exploit it, the answer is a highly regulated, low funded benefit system. Im not just being cruel, it has to be low funded so that all cases are properly examined before any money is given out.

  11. Grace Willis said

    i find this policy extremely insulting, patronising and quite frankly backward it really makes me wonder whether Cameron knows anything at all about the real world if hes the next prime minister im immagrating !

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