It is an old joke but a favourite from the era of Cecil and Alan Clarke that the Tories are so keen on family values they want to have as many as they can.
So the Tory attempt to mobilise their base has begun with tax breaks for married couples with children. This worries me as a liberal as the state interfering in the bedroom: most certainly not the business of the government.
Marriage is designed to protect people in the risks of long term commitment needed to raise families. It isn’t a moral issue, the history of English marriage shows this. Early modern (16th/17th century) marriage amongst the majority of the population was considered to gave taken place when a couple started cohabiting, but the legal marriage was delayed until pregnancy. Not a million miles from today. The Victorians tried to change all this, but not very successfully outside the upper classes.
The evidence that children do better in stable homes is clear: but that doesn’t mean they do better in volatile households. Also the evidence on cohabiting couples isn’t much different from married.
This clearly is not about child welfare. It also won’t make anyone tie the knot. It might help people at an expensive time when money might cause a split, but this is true of cohabiting couples who face the same strains and whose kids would also benefit. If it was about children it’d therefore be an announcement of child tax relief or credits. It is about promoting one way of life above others to pander the base.
This could be the less nasty edge of Toxic Conservatism reasserting itself.