He said it six weeks ago but this is what Ken Clarke said about Tory policy on marriage just before Christmas:
"I got rid of the married couples allowance [when I was Chancellor]… I
really don’t think it’s anything to do with politicians whether you
[get married] and most of the younger people I know don’t seem very
keen on it. My view of Conservatism is that it’s not for us to tell you
[what to do through] the tax system – my wife didn’t put up with me
because I was getting £150 by way of tax allowance. This is social
engineering for God’s sake and when I joined the party we weren’t in
favour of it."
"…But what I am in favour of is David
[Cameron] setting an agenda pointing out all the social problems, the
broken parts of cities, the level of family breakdown, poverty, social
disorder and crime. I’m glad to see us getting into all that but the
stuff I associate with the religious right in America, I think, is
having too much influence on where we are."
The quote – like his belief that the Conservatives will be more pro-Europe in office – has come from the PublicService.co.uk website. The remarks were made at an academic conference and were supposed to be off the record.
Mr Clarke looks at the marriage issue from a very middle class perspective. The trouble is – as David Cameron and 93% of Tory candidates recognise – the incentives to live apart within the tax and benefits system are significant for lower income people. That’s the injustice that David Cameron is rightly seeking to address. I don’t expect David Cameron and George Osborne to retreat from this pledge. Nor should they.