Sunday, September 30, 2007

Tory definition of "family" is disgracefully exclusive

When you are a parent, you pick up words of wisdom from the strangest of sources. There's a Disney film called Lilo and Stitch (above) that gave us much amusement as a family. A cartoon set in Hawaii, it tells the story of a little girl called Lilo who is left orphaned with her adult sister, Nani, after a car crash kills her parents. The two sisters are joined by a strange alien creature who is the product of an illegal genetic experimentation on another planet. After 90 minutes of mayhem, the creature, Stitch, domesticates itself and becomes part of the family with Lilo and Nani.

There is a tear-jerking final sequence when it is explained that families come in all shapes and sizes and that we should cherish the family we have, in this case two orphaned sisters and an alien odd-ball.

This is a film David Cameron could do with watching.

The tax cut for families which he was proposing has now morphed itself into an increase in tax credits, as Vince Cable has highlighted today:

It would appear that the so-called Tory tax cut for families is not a tax cut at all, but an increase in tax credits' a means-tested benefit subject to enormous complexity and problems with mistaken payments.

The problem with this whole thing is the families excluded from the measure. Firstly, single parent families. It is wrong to make generalisations about these families. It is very difficult to find relationship break-ups which are not accompanied by enormous heartache and which do not involve single parents working very hard, under extremely trying circumstances. Secondly, the measure excludes families where the parents have not married. Personally I know of such an example where, quite frankly, most people don't realise the parents aren't married. They are extremely loving and caring parents and have been in partnership for well over 15 years.

But most sadly, the Tory married couples' tax credit increase will exclude families where one parent has tragically died. This will include families of those who die in the service of their country.

The Tory party really is surpassing itself in smug self-righteousness when it is engineering giving away public money and excluding widows bringing up children on their own.

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