Last summer, I wrote a blog entry about proposals from the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), a Conservative think-tank led by former Tory Party leader, now David Cameron aid du camp, Iain Duncan Smith. The post focused on a CSJ proposal to introduce mandatory "cooling off" periods before a spouse can initiate divorce proceedings.
More recently, I posted about the CSJ's Manifesto for Happy and Healthy Families. The Manifesto argues government should recognise marriage in the tax system to incentivise parents to marry (on the basis that children of married parents are better citizens than the offspring of unmarried parents).
Well, Chris Cook wrote a really interesting article in the Financial Times last weekend about the origins of the CSJ, how its rewritten Tory party doctrine on tax and family law, and the Centre's strong links with evangelical Christians.
'As wary as some Tories are of their evangelical brethren, their current opinion poll lead comes in large part on the back of an alliance between secular liberals and a small core of evangelical Christians.'
'Among the secular members of the party machine, there is unease about [the] influence [of the CSJ]. The use of the CSJ's research, in particular, causes concern. One official - who, like all party staff I spoke to, refused to go on the record - said: "Their hearts are in the right place, but loads of their stuff is ropey. They just seem to make up statistics or use dodgy assumptions." The think-tank's support for subsidising marriage through the tax system is a particular bugbear.
'Another official said: "The CSJ claims that there is evidence marriage helps the poor. But you have to chase down a jungle of references to find anything serious. It's mostly rubbish that doesn't overcome the self-selection problem [that couples who choose marriage are more likely to have qualities that make it easier to stay together and be good parents]. We have repeated some wholly indefensible claims."'
Cook also highlights the likely tightening of abortion laws under a Cameron government. He quotes an anonymous 'liberal Tory adviser' who describes the change as "rightwing political correctness" - part of a policy package that is avowedly "pro-nuclear power, pro-nuclear weapons, pro-army, pro-life".
The article's a really interesting read for anyone interested in family law and tax reform. I highly recommend it.