Last week when Nick Clegg launched the Government's flexible parental leave strategy, he did so quoting the recent Demos report, Home Front, which looks at all sorts of family and parenting issues.
What he didn't make an issue of, and in my view should do at some point in the future, is the fact that the Demos report totally trashes the Tory tax policy.
Point 14 of its Executive summary is quite clear on the subject:
14 Government should not introduce a married tax allowance
Evidence shows that it is the quality of relationships rather than relationship status which has the greater effect on parental confidence and effectiveness, and hence on children’s outcomes.
There is no evidence of a ‘marriage effect’, rather marriage is probably a proxy for more successful relationships. The government is right to support stable relationships in so far as they impact on children. However, many married couples do not have children, making this proposal both moralising and inefficient, as it draws resources away from some of the most at risk families. Tax allowances, if used to support families, should be aimed at families with children.To me, that's stating the obvious. I can quite understand why he didn't mention this when he launched the report, concentrating instead on the parental leave proposals, because you can be the more ignorant sections of the press would have printed stuff suggesting he and Cameron were on a collision course. Oh, wait, the Fail already has, as you can see from that link.
The Fail and others need to realise that this is one of the areas where we have an opt out in the Coalition Agreement. Actually, I'm not so chuffed that we only have the right to abstain. If I were an MP, I'd be more inclined to vote against this than the tuition fees proposals, and I'd have rebelled on that. I bet Alistair Carmichael is so glad he doesn't have me to deal with. Seriously, though, I find the whole idea insulting and it uses up money that could be better directed to help kids and families who need it.
I think that we as Liberal Democrats should be contributing to the debate loudly and passionately. I think everybody from Nick down should be saying quite plainly that this idea is as ridiculous as it always was if it ever sees the light of day again. Thankfully it's been kicked into the medium length grass for the moment, but if it ever looks like it's going to come out, we need to do our best to try to lob it into the distance. The Demos report is a bit of evidence that people should know about.