Last year Mr Justice Coleridge caused a stir with his "river of human distress" speech about family breakdown at Resolution's annual conference. Now he is back at it again. In a speech to the Family Holiday Association he spoke of an “epidemic” of family breakdown in this country and proposed that a national commission be created to deal with it by establishing marriage as the "gold standard" for relationships.
Naturally, the speech has been picked up with glee by the Daily Mail and many of its readers, but is there really an epidemic, and if so is marriage the answer? I'm not going to spend much time on this, but I'm not sure that the rate of family breakdown in this country is that much greater than in most other western countries. As for marriage being the "gold standard", I think that many cohabiting couples would find that highly offensive. It just seems to me that he is trying to turn back the clock to a time when marriage was the norm and was for life. The problem is that you can't turn back the clock and even if you could I'm not sure I would want to - how many of those marriages that were only held together by social convention were actually miserable affairs that left all involved, including the children, scarred for life?