Plans for tax breaks for married couples are in the news again as the latest Conservative push for votes. The Lib Dem leader, Nick Clegg, has decried this proposal as 'Edwardian' and rightly so. As a married man with small children I would - like everyone else in my situation - welcome any tax cut but I can also recognise that we are not living in the world of Dixon of Dock Green with old ladies cycling to church and cricket on the green, as a Tory leader of yore famously put it. The simple truth is that society is - and has always been - a bit more complex than some parties would like to make out.
Where is the tax break for the widower bringing up children on his own? Where is the tax break for the woman who has escaped an abusive relationship to protect herself and her family? Where is the tax break for the cohabiting couple which has decided to adopt? Where is the tax break for the grandparents who have taken on parenting responsibilities to help out their children? Where is the tax break for the two loving parents who want to do the best for their children but whose marriage has ended through nobody's fault?
As ever, Conservative proposals throw up more questions than answers. Policies designed to win votes have not been thought through in terms of our wider society and the next five, ten or twenty years.
Why not simply provide a tax break to every person on an average income who is working? Why not raise the tax threshold - the level of earnings at which we start paying taxes - to £10,000, improving the lives of most people in work and in particular those on lower incomes, some of whom will stop paying taxes altogether, allowing them to invest their own money in their families instead of getting costly and bureaucratic handouts from the state.
If you think that's a good idea, have a look at www.libdems.org.uk, because we're the only party promising to make taxes fairer from April 2011 - in other words legislating for such a change this year. And the proposal is fully costed by our Shadow Chancellor, Vince Cable so it is affordable now, not at some indeterminate date.
If you want real change, vote for it on May 6th.