STATE AND THE UNION

It’s official. I am a dysfunctional human being and I am a problem for society. These are facts I’ve long suspected, but I required confirmation from an expert – preferably a happily-married rich man who lives on land owned by his even richer father-in-law. According to this expert, I frequently have inherently unstable relationships because I’ve never tied the knot; as a consequence of this, I commit crimes, I drink too much, I take drugs and I have fathered multiple children. Considering yesterday’s post dealt with the legacy of IDS in his stint at the DWP, it’s nice that the old egghead has provided me with something to talk about today as well as giving these often disparate posts a semblance of continuity. You can’t keep a good man down, even when his CV is illuminated by a stint as leader of his party so ineffective that he was axed before he had the chance to fight a General Election.

The notion that the root cause of society’s ills is down to ‘cohabitating couples’ deciding not to have their union certified by an archaic, style-over-substance ceremony in a House of God or a registry office is one I should imagine cartoon characters like Jacob Rees Mogg fully endorse – as long as the couples in question are of the opposite sex, of course; but it would seem the IDS theory conveniently excludes poverty, piss-poor job opportunities, low wages, long working hours, lack of affordable housing and a world in which putting the hours in has little or no rewards. The have-not drones are expected to be content with their lot when the haves parade their tax-free gains across the media, rubbing the nose of the plebs in it as they do so. Unless they get married, naturally; all their problems would be solved in an instant then.

The stock of IDS has now sadly sunk so low that he is reduced to speaking at a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference rather than the official corporate shindig itself; but at least it gives him free rein to expound upon his increasingly detached-from-reality theories allegedly formed via his spell as Work and Pensions Tsar under David Cameron. He eventually walked out on this post, claiming Dave and Gideon couldn’t care less about anyone who didn’t attend even a minor public school in his resignation letter; stating the bleedin’ obvious, maybe, but a pre-emptive strike that nicely facilitated the IDS role as a prominent Leave cheerleader during the EU Referendum. The Brexit sitcom may be an ongoing Whitehall farce, though Mr Duncan Smith has no part to play at Government level, so is forced into falling back onto his former favourite subject as a means of garnering self-publicity.

IDS claimed men unbound by the burden of wedlock were ‘released to do all the things they wouldn’t normally do’; this implies married men are impeccable models of respectable probity, the kind of gentlemen who wouldn’t dream of cheating on their spouses, so bound are they by the contract they enter into as though it had the God-fearing authority of a Medieval oath. ‘They are out,’ he said, ‘no longer having to bring something in for their family…so levels of addiction, levels of high criminal activity, issues around dysfunctional behaviour, multiple parenting – all these things are as a result of the un-anchoring of the young man to a responsibility that keeps them stable and eventually makes them more happy.’

It’s rather quaint that IDS firmly believes the kind of irresponsible men he speaks of somehow didn’t exist when any cohabitating couples siring offspring required a ring on the third fingers of their respective left hands. The idea that this acted as a preventative aid to men who don’t have it in them to play the husband/father role from wandering and philandering is a tad amusing; in actual fact, it merely kept the wife in a state of permanent misery, unable to hook up with a far more suitable candidate because she was tied to a waste of space courtesy of the social contract that marriage represented in less enlightened days.

The mistake made time and time again by the likes of IDS or Peter Hitchens at his reactionary worst is that a union sanctified preferably by the Church of England is one that will be honoured by both parties; a pleasant, Ladybird book ideal that doesn’t necessarily equate with reality, the belief that a partnership sanctioned by the state has a stamp of legitimacy that negates the kind of activities IDS blames on ‘common law marriage’ is one that may well play to traditional Tory principles, but has no basis in fact. Being married to the ‘fragrant’ Mary didn’t serve as an obstacle to Jeffrey Archer playing away with a prostitute, after all.

Twenty years ago next February (on Friday 13th – an ominous omen if ever there was one), I came within a whisker of officially certifying a union that was destined to collapse into chaos courtesy of the other half; had she not changed her mind at the eleventh hour, I doubt it would have lasted much longer than Cher’s union with Duane Allman, one that resulted in the former filing for divorce within nine days of the wedding in 1975. This was long before the Posh & Becks/Jordan & Peter Andre showbiz blueprint of the wedding ceremony that has descended into a tacky festival of bad taste via Reality TV and its PR publications, proving to be a pernicious influence on the mindset of the young and responsible for vast fortunes squandered on ceremonies hosted by country hotels and stately homes that often have little bearing on the actual relationship.

As it happens, Mr Duncan Smith, I’ve never been married and I’ve never indulged in parenting of any kind (multiple or no); my addictions and criminal activity have been limited to a level that wouldn’t have troubled the tabloids, let alone the boys in blue; and tarring everyone from a low-income demographic with lazy clichés that suit your self-image as a patrician lecturer based upon a reforming nineteenth century model simply isn’t good enough in the twenty-first century. IDS says one in five dependent children have no father figure at home, adding ‘A child in Britain is more likely to experience family breakdown than anywhere else in the world’; that may well be true, but a sanctified C-of-E union isn’t the solution, and believing it is simply shows a genuine lack of understanding of (as someone once said) crime and the causes of crime.

© The Editor

3 thoughts on “STATE AND THE UNION

  1. The IDS view on marriage is one common to the ‘Shire Tories’, a belief that the world should operate as they would prefer it to, rather than how it really does. They fail to acknowledge that the genie won’t go back in the bottle and that their fanciful ideal will never return.

    I write as a complete opposite of your situation, having been married only once, to the same lady, for many decades (the anniversary of which, by coincidence, is today). I have no regrets about that but have no reason to seek to impose that same pattern on anyone or everyone else.

    Traditionally, governments have used the marriage status as a gateway control to many associated benefits, particularly in taxation, pensions and inheritance and, in earlier times, it certainly offered some security and protection to women when they were considered unable to provide for themselves and any children. The quid-pro-quo was that the ‘couple’ was expected to assume most responsibility for its output, both in volume and behaviour, saving the government from becoming over-involved. One major downside was that many unsuited couples stayed together in quite miserable relationships because there was no feasible alternative.
    We live in very different times, not only for women but also for same-sex partnerships and the more traditional ruling-types are having a problem accommodating those changes. The result of these changes is a quite different landscape of relationships, most of which clash with the traditional model and the systems which hang from that. Many of my friends, of all ages, are in non-marriage partnerships or no partnership at all, just as some are conventionally married: they are as happy as we are and I’m happy for them – I don’t discriminate based on the ‘legality’ of their pairing, that’s their choice as mature adults, it’s no business of mine.
    One thing’s for certain, the IDS ’Shire Tories’ will not win this one, so perhaps they should wake up from their apparently-monogamous beds and smell the Earl Grey tea – the world’s changed, either adapt or move on, the latter of which most will do relatively soon anyway.

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  2. A great post.

    However, I fear that although he may now be only a fringe personality, that could change. Imagine if Boris were to do the dirty on Theresa and get her job. As PM, he would fill his cabinet with Leavers to prove his determination. I can possibly foresee the recall of IDS to a cabinet position. Just think of him in Ministry of Justice or something of that status… he’d be even worse than Grayling and that is saying something.

    Gawd ‘elp us all.

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    1. I confess I was actually quite pissed when I wrote this post. Coming back to it today, I feared it might be all over the place. Several hundred black coffees later, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised! 🙂

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