Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Thunderer in overdrive

The Times goes into family topics overdrive today, fanning the flames of the family-as-an-election-issue fire, which is rapidly becoming a conflagration. I found no fewer than six articles, covering various matters, from marriage to children to separation and divorce.

We begin with who else but Ruth Deech - after all, she has been out of the headlines for at least two days - and are told that in her (mercifully) last family law lecture at Gresham college next week (I thought the lectures were monthly?) she will discuss the tricky question of prohibited degrees of relationship. She will apparently argue that the rise in marriages between cousins is putting children's health at risk, citing in particular the high numbers of such marriages in immigrant communities, which also have high numbers of children with recessive disorders. She does not seek a ban on cousin marriage, but rather a public campaign warning of the dangers, together with other measures, such as testing for mutant genes where marriages are arranged. Controversially, she suggests in-vitro embryo testing, brushing aside ethical objections about this being a slippery slope to eugenics, by saying that such objections are met by current guidelines under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

Apparently 'supporting' this article, we then have two further articles on the subject of cousin marriages, one telling us about some famous examples of such marriages (Darwin marrying his first cousin Emma Wedgewood is given particular prominence), and the other describing a first-cousin marriage, with the husband joking that marrying his cousin means that he doesn't have to deal with a mother-in-law. I shall resist the temptation for a Les Dawson joke...

Moving on, columnist and former Tory MP Matthew Parris unsurprisingly supports the 'obviously good idea' that a tax bribe will encourage more people to get and/or stay married. What is more, for best results he wants the bribe to be generous. To deal with the small problem of how the country might afford this, he comes up with the remarkable idea that it should only apply to those who marry after it comes into effect. Somehow, I don't think that would be much of a vote-winner...

Elsewhere, under Home > Life & Style > Women > Relationships we find an article by writer Justine Picardie in which she describes the breakdown of her marriage and its effect upon her. Her feelings are instructive:
"We live in an age in which people use tidy phrases such as “no-blame divorce” or “by mutual agreement”. But despite the level language of legal mediators and family law specialists, the feelings that arise are primal, savage, and — especially if infidelity has been involved (which it usually is) — clouded by rage, shame, humiliation and jealousy."
She tells us that: "there’s nothing easy about it, whatever Baroness Deech suggests", although she does end on a high note, assuring us that there is life after divorce.

Finally, also under Home > Life & Style > Women > Relationships we have an article by marital therapist Andrew Marshall, confusingly entitled 'Jerry Hall on how to survive after a separation', in which he gives us 'five scenarios when you should put down the phone to the solicitor and think again'. I confess that by the time I got to this article my concentration was fading, so I will leave it to you to reach your own conclusions...

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