[t]he decline in support for general rate reduction and the increase in support for working poor tax credits, but not child-care relief, suggests that the prime had the effect of making respondents think more of general redistribution to the poor: that

the ‘problem’ of working mothers triggers an economic, not a familial demographic,

94

response.[888]

What this reveals is that, with the focus taken away from the parent, or at least from the parent’s gender, and redirected towards the economy, it is actually the child that is at centre stage. Or, perhaps, the transferring of income from families without children, to families with them, is at centre stage.[889] It is perhaps for this reason that the child-care element of the tax credit system can have important feminist consequences. For, as Orloff explains, ‘the impact upon women of inadequate resources and support for childcare is well documented’.[890] Where lack of support impedes women’s abilities to participate in the economy, there is an impression that they are prevented from participating in a fuller sense of citizen­ship as well. On the question of citizenship, Lardy has investigated whether the participatory benefits (civic and personal, even emotional) of voting ought to be made compulsory.[891] Then, in effect, everyone would be able to feel good for ‘doing the right thing’, even if forced to do so. This has intriguing resonance for tax credits, which seek to encourage (perhaps, financially, push?) women into the marketplace. Work traditionally has been viewed as a key aspect of citizenship theory, to the point that feminists have suggested that the denial of access to work directly impedes women’s equality.[892] Focusing solely on work, of any kind, as the desired goal ignores the restrictions imposed by lack of education and other restrictions of opportunity.[893] The assumptions underlying such discourse reveal much about the value placed on the act of parenting.