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Marriage: It’s that £20 question

Dammit. We mention the words Tory and epiphanyin the same sentence and up pop former leader Iain Duncan Smith and shadow homesecretary Chris Grayling to discredit the mega-brainpower of the Outside Left policy unit.

First, IDS. He is talking about marriage again and hisperceived importance of it in preventing family breakdown.

It’s a bit of an old drum he is beating but one that willappeal to Tory traditionalists who may fear that their party is in danger oflosing its “nasty” tag.

Two years ago IDS proposed a £20 a week tax break to coupleswho married. It would be an incentive to stay together, as if love and respect weresecondary to Mammon.

This week in a vodcast with The Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, hewould not be drawn on how much the tax break would be worth but he did not deny the £20 figure.

I would liked to have heard whether this tax break would extend to same-sex couples who have entered into civilpartnerships. I fear I may know the answer to that, though.

However, cost is a big enough reason to avoid marriage. Unless the couple wish to celebrate the big day with a couple of witnesses and a bag ofchips, they will have to stump up about £26,000 on average – and that was in 2006

Any tax break would undoubtedly benefit those who do have £26k to spare anddiscriminate against those on lower incomes. Twenty sovs?  As Boris Johnson would say, it’s chickenfeed.

Chris Grayling was in good form too. In an echo of TonyBlair’s answer to juvenile delinquency (march ‘em off to a cashpoint machine – youwant to plead your innocence in court? No chance, mate), the shadow home secretary suggestedconfiscating miscreants’ mobile phones.

Yeah, Chris, that’ll show them. A good dose of summaryjustice with little chance of appeal.

Indeed, if the person involved truly is a nuisance tosociety you can bet he or she will head straight off and nick another one.

And if they are not? Well, suddenly they have lost theirmain point of contact with a parent or responsible adult.

That should keep the families together.

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