Darling, it’s a tax break! Let’s get married!

This is sure to please the true blue backbenchers - but what about everyone else?


Some of the most obnoxious people I know are married. Married people have committed murder, acts of terrorism and even a few genocides. They can’t all be bad, but it does seem odd that a government in the midst of recession would choose this group in particular to reward with a tax break, as promised by David Cameron over the weekend.

Still, it’s the wedding season, love is in the air and if you promise me there’s a free bar, I’m willing to put doubt aside temporarily. Let’s assume, as the Conservative Party does, that: a) marital status is a reliable indicator of an individual’s value to society; b) couples getting and staying married is an unambiguous public good; and c) happy families are directly attributable to married parents, as opposed to all the other socio-economic factors. Even so, can lasting human affection really be bought so cheaply?

The scheme, which allows non-working spouses to transfer part of their tax-free allowance to their partners, will cost the state around £550m and amount to an annual rebate of only £150 per couple. Since, according to a recent study, the average British wedding now costs £18,244, Mr and Mrs Average will have to stick it out for an impressive 121 years to make their money back. But do check my workings – as a child of divorce, I understand that both my character and my arithmetic are necessarily dubious. Again, blame my broken home if you will, but I was also confused as to how the same Government which announced the need for £11.5bn cuts to public services just last week could find a spare half a billion to fund a tax cut by the following Monday?

While this measure will do next to nothing for Britain’s truly needy families, and is unlikely to make even a dent in the divorce rates, there is one group it will undoubtedly benefit: comparatively wealthy, more socially conservative voters – in other words, those most likely to vote Tory in 2015. Here is a blessed union between electoral strategy and true-blue values. What political expediency has joined together, let no man put asunder

Sadly, the announcement comes too late for Caroline Dinenage, Tory MP for Gosport, and Tory minister Mark Lancaster. According to gossip, the couple got it together after Dinenage left her husband. Lancaster already reportedly had a failed marriage behind him when he left his new partner and four-month-old daughter. Yet another different relationship then broke down before he took up with Dinenage. Absolutely none of our business, of course, but it does demonstrate who really wins whenever Government starts legislating on love lives. That’s you, fans of scurrilous tittle-tattle; your lowbrow hobby has just attained the status of legitimate policy debate.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Norovirus the food poisoning bug that causes violent stomach flu  

A flu pandemic could decide next year’s election

Matthew Norman
J. Jayalalithaa gestures to her party supporters while standing on the balcony of her residence in Chennai. Former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is one of India's most colourful and controversial politicians  

The jailing of former film star Jayalalithaa Jayaram is a drama even Bollywood couldn’t produce

Andrew Buncombe
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style