Saturday, 22 October 2016

Civil Right

Good luck to Martin Loat and Claire Beale of Ealing, who are having their civil partnership registered in the Isle of Man even though it would still not be recognised on the Mainland.

There is a perfectly reasonable case for civil partnerships to be available to opposite-sex couples. It is not as if those couples would otherwise be getting married.

Never having needed to be consummated, civil partnerships ought not to be confined to unrelated same-sex couples, or even to unrelated couples generally.

That would be a start, anyway.

Any marrying couple should be entitled to register their marriage as bound by the law prior to 1969 with regard to grounds and procedures for divorce, and any religious organisation should be enabled to specify that any marriage that it conducted should be so bound, requiring it to counsel couples accordingly.

Statute should specify that the Church of England and the Church in Wales each be such a body unless, respectively, the General Synod and the Governing Body specifically resolved the contrary by a two-thirds majority in all three Houses.

There should be similar provision relating to the Methodist and United Reformed Churches, which also exist pursuant to Acts of Parliament, as well as by amendment to the legislation relating to the restoration of the Catholic hierarchy.

Entitlement upon divorce should be fixed by Statute at one per cent of the other party’s estate for each year of marriage, up to 50 per cent, with no entitlement for the petitioning party unless the other party’s fault were proved.

Am I trying to go back to the 1950s? To which features of the 1950s, exactly? Full employment? Public ownership? The Welfare State? Council housing? Municipal services? Apprenticeships? Free undergraduate tuition?

All of those things were bound up with things like this. That they have all been eroded or destroyed together has not been a coincidence.

It is not called neoliberalism for nothing.


  1. I'll always be grateful to you for pointing out that hardly any MPs voted one way or the other on the Jenkins social changes, they formed no part of his reputation until 20 years later when he was out of the Commons (courtesy of a left-wing, pro-life mate of yours), that reputation was all about his time as Chancellor not his time as Home Secretary, the social changes were barely reported at the time except in specialist Catholic papers, and they still had no impact at all on Catholics overwhelmingly voting Labour.

    1. And why would it have done? Such Conservatives as voted at all on these measures, mostly voted in favour of them. For example, Margaret Thatcher.

      The big two, which really changed this country and which ought really to have been contentious, were the 1967 Abortion Act and the 1969 Divorce Reform Act. She voted for both of those, as did almost everyone else who turned up at all.

      It is completely inconceivable that a Conservative Government at the same historical juncture would not have enacted them, or that it would not have decriminalised male homosexual acts between consenting adults in private (again, opposed by almost no one, actively supported by hardly anyone, and barely reported anywhere with a general audience).

      Such a Government would probably also have enacted the Race Relations Act, the only one about which Harold Wilson truly cared, even if it might have had to rely on Labour votes in order to do so, although even that would have been fairly improbable. The rebellion, although there would have been one, would have been fairly small, and easily seen off.

      And a backbench amendment or a Private Member's Bill to abolish capital punishment would most likely also have passed a predominantly Tory Parliament by then. It was little more than a tidying up exercise, dispensing with something that had scarcely been used in years, and which the previous Conservative Government had drastically restricted even as an option.

      Few people realise that that, and not any later measure, was the reason why Ian Brady and Myra Hindley could not have been executed. But such was in fact the fact. The death penalty was already as dead as that. Thanks to the Tories.

      Although no thanks to Thatcher, who voted against abolition (unlike Enoch Powell, as strong an opponent of this as of nuclear weapons), and who continued to defend the death penalty in the same autobiographical chapter that defended abortion and much easier divorce.

      Think on.