Rowling on Cameron on tax breaks for married couples

Rowling writes, in The Times, that the Conservative party’s manifesto:

reiterates the flagship policy so proudly defended by David Cameron last weekend, that of “sticking up for marriage”. To this end, they promise a half-a-billion pound tax break for lower-income married couples, working out at £150 per annum.

I accept that my friends and I might be atypical. Maybe you know people who would legally bind themselves to another human being, for life, for an extra £150 a year? Perhaps you were contemplating leaving a loveless or abusive marriage, but underwent a change of heart on hearing about a possible £150 tax break? Anything is possible; but somehow, I doubt it. Even Mr Cameron seems to admit that he is offering nothing more than a token gesture when he tells us “it’s not the money, it’s the message”.

Nobody who has ever experienced the reality of poverty could say “it’s not the money, it’s the message”. When your flat has been broken into, and you cannot afford a locksmith, it is the money. When you are two pence short of a tin of baked beans, and your child is hungry, it is the money. When you find yourself contemplating shoplifting to get nappies, it is the money. If Mr Cameron’s only practical advice to women living in poverty, the sole carers of their children, is “get married, and we’ll give you £150”, he reveals himself to be completely ignorant of their true situation.

You can read more here

10 thoughts on “Rowling on Cameron on tax breaks for married couples

  1. Oops! Hope I didn’t disappoint by getting there first! Feel free to add to it (I wanted to quote more, because so much of it is so great, but didn’t want to bombard with too much…)

  2. I should add: aside from the fact that his £150 incentive shows his ignorance of poverty, I don’t think there’s much to be said in favour of ‘sticking up for marriage’; why privilege such relationships? Why encourage them?

    All sorts of other living arrangements are thereby marginalised (we’ve posted on this previously, I think – Jender on the friend relationship that wasn’t adequately recognised), or, in the case of Conservative past policy, stigmatized (single parents, esp single mothers). Rowling touches on the latter of these issues too.

  3. Good for her. I had no idea she would take stands on such issues. Is this her first stint as a spokeswoman for women?

    Isn’t giving a little while saying you care a lot also a kind of hypocrisy?

    I don’t think this kind of trick really works well. Imagine giving a good friend a stick of gum for her birthday: “But it’s given with lots of love,” one says, “And that’s what’s important.”

    In fact, what does become the message is the money or the gum: In the scale of things you value, this doesn’t seem very high.

  4. I don’t know if she’s ever taken stances on particular issues before, but I read an interview with her once where she was talking about being feminist, and the character of Hermoine breaking gender norms (e.g. she’s the smart one). There’s really quite a few feminist themes in the Harry Potter series. Loved this article.

  5. An aside: Yesterday I saw a Conservative advertisment plastered on the door of a telephone box. It read:

    Strong Families

    Strong Society

    Vote Conservative

    The writing was in cross stich and the entire poster looked like a cross stich sampler.

    It made me want to vomit.

  6. Thanks for alerting me to this very useful article.
    I’m a candidate standing in the Central Devon Constituency – perhaps the most rural constituency in England – and my Tory oppo regularly mentions his supportive wife and his daughters and when it comes to policies that impact on those living at or below the breadline he uses phrases like “the deserving poor” which I thought had been mercilessly scorned to death forty years ago.
    Trouble is I’m 100/1 with the bookies and he’s 1/500 on. If ever we needed a different type of electoral system to first-past-the-post then the seemingly compelling stereotype that rural areas ‘must’ be Conservative surely is one of the strongest arguments for change.

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