Peter Hoskin

Forget inheritance tax – Tory marriage policy is Labour’s new favourite target

Forget inheritance tax – Tory marriage policy is Labour's new favourite target
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For some time, Labour has been trying to push the line that behind the Cameron facade there's an old-school, "nasty" party waiting, drooling, for an opportunity to engineer the country as they see fit.  Over the past couple of days, it's become clear that they've struck on a new variant of that attack.

Yesterday, we had Ed Balls on Today saying that the Tories' marriage tax break was a "back to basics" policy.  And, today, as Paul Waugh reveals, Harriet Harman described the same agenda as "modern day back to basics. It is back to basics in an open-necked shirt."  The reference, of course, is to John Major's ill-fated, relaunch campaign in 1993, which – thanks to what was seen as a moralising tone – became ironically synonymous with government sleaze more than anything else.

Will it stick?  I can't see it myself.  For starters, it relies on the public making a more or less immediate connection with a 17-year-old story.  And, even if that happens, there's the danger that voters may well see more parallels – the division, the dubiousness – between this government and Major's, rather than between the latter and the Cameroons.  

But, either way, it's increasingly clear that attacks on Tory marriage policy will be a central plank of Labour's campaign.