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Kathy Gyngell: A New Year resolution for Dave. Sam to lead a campaign to make marriage cool


Have a heart Dave – and do something worthwhile in your last year as PM. Make marriage cool – for everyone I mean, not just your and Sam’s upper class pals and Hello mag celebs. You can you know. Who better to bring it into the 21st century, up to date and hip,  than you – Mr, ‘I’m the model of  a very modern Prime Minister’,  Cameron?

Just think how easy it would be to make it your latest equal opportunities priority and policy. Marriage, in case you’ve missed this  Dave, is a social justice issue – that’s what our latest and most modern of Popes believes it has become when  only the rich like you can afford it. PR is meant to be your forte too. Use it!

It is not as though you haven’t already got all the necessary legislation on the statute book to help you.  All that gender and diversity impact assessment stuff  – you know – that any new policy has to pass to get the all clear. If marriage isn’t a matter of diversity and human rights I don’t know what is. Endangered in fact. How it came to be excluded in the first place beats me. It must you too.

I’d advise no delay in adding marriage impact to pre-policy scrutiny checks – especially any new tax wheeze dreamt up by George before it gets released to the media.  It would have saved you those embarrassing Telegraph headlines the other day, which made the Conservatives look like they don’t believe in marriage at all and would rather couples broke up.

Why not add marriage to Nicky Morgan’s portfolio? She is a Christian after all and must still believe in it. Given her volte face over ‘same sex’ marriage it would give her some new street cred. And I am quite sure you could get the Cabinet’s collective head around the idea of a new, cool Minister for trad marriage. After all – it’s what they’ve all done (got married) themselves. It would be nice to feel in sync with the common man once again.

I’d also think about getting that beacon of fairness and social justice – Alan Milburn, your social mobility czar – onside with a new marriage and mobility  campaign.  He’d get on well with Sam Cam – your very hip and yes, married to you, modern wife, too. What with her estuary English (posh style) and Alan’s Geordie vowels – marketing marriage to the masses should be a breeze.

He could hardly refuse when he’s only a czar thanks to you and himself took the big step into marriage atop a mountain.  What could be cooler than that? He can hardly deny that marriage is a structural inequality issue for the children of those two million (and counting) lone parents living in the UK today ( 91 per cent of whom are women) – the very kids he’s so keen to speed up the social mobility ladder.

Alan can hardly deny the sociological facts if you confront him with them:  that children of families without fathers or with unstable relationships are more disadvantaged and fare worse on all health and socio-economic outcomes than children of married parents – even when parents’ socio-economic status is controlled for. If his ‘ethical socialist’ and sociologist forbears, Norman Dennis, George Erdos and A H Halsey got it why can’t he?

And can he really believe that record levels of cohabitation – up 30 per cent since 2004 –  are helping?

If he still proves tricksy, insisting there’s nothing that more (and more) positive discrimination and quotas can’t put right, stop him mid flow. Point him to the latest relevant research which finds children brought up by single parents or step-families are far more likely to suffer from conduct disorders and hyperactivity. Hardly the best basis from which to set out on your life journey, you might sternly say.

And in case he tries to explain away the obvious core finding  of this very well substantiated study – as did the political correct Andy Bell (Chief executive of the Centre for Mental Health) – tell him no, it’s not to do with poverty. No, too, to Carey Oppenheim of the Early Intervention Foundation; the State’s early intervention schemes (one of Mr Milburn’s pet solutions) won’t sort out these struggling children’s problems.

What would do the trick is their biological parents committing to stay together to finish the job they started at conception.

It is fundamental and to deny it is to have your head in the sand. The word ‘marriage’, you might say to Alan, is what springs to mind.

Quite obviously, it is the best thing for a child to be brought up by both its natural parents living together and is a massive handicap if this is not the case.

Two and a half times the incidence of severe mental health problems among children with single parents and three times the incidence with step-parents is your evidence – if you needed any more.  You can’t ignore basic facts about upbringing anymore.

You know this Dave, in your heart of hearts. Be brave and get your bleeding heart liberal colleagues and  cold-hearted number crunchers around you to face the truth. That yours and previous governments’ tax and benefits policies have incentivised the worst of ‘family formations’ for children. That policy in this area has been inimical to children’s welfare and positively irresponsible and adult centric.

Be a radical and reverse all those tax penalties on marriage that have excluded ever more kids from the sort of upbringing you had that gave you such a head start in life.

Making it cool to be married means making it affordable. An up to date and updated transferable tax allowance would do the trick – generous enough to bring the excluded single and cohabiting families in from the cold.

Stop passing by on the other side of the road Dave – there’s still time for you to become a modern-day  good Samaritan by recognising marriage is the most serious equal opportunities matter of modern times.

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngell
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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