WHAT are the Tories trying to do? Kill off marriage altogether?
The Government nonchalantly allowed the far-Left free rein to stage mass protests in gross violation of the coronavirus lockdown rules, but has now stomped in to act as a grim-faced commissar overseeing wedding celebrations.
Boris Johnson’s gracious permission for ceremonies to recommence on Saturday – as though any could be arranged by then – comes with a series of diktats and don’t-dos worthy of a communist state.
Marriage vows might not mean much to our modern Prime Minister, but he should not assume others take them so lightly. For the hundreds of couples waiting to tie the knot, the wedding ceremony is a moment of huge significance. But the new regulations reduce the big day to nothing – this most socially significant rite of passage to a hurried, featureless formality.
Fathers can forget walking their daughters up the aisle; there’s to be to more hugging or kissing allowed. Singing and saying spoken responses ‘should not be in raised voice’ can you believe? Indoor receptions for two households only, or up to six people outdoors.
Guests from different households are told to maintain social distancing. And, Lord help us, couples must wash their hands before and after exchanging rings.
You really couldn’t make it up. But this Government has. Despite tolerating the mass violation of lockdown easing everywhere else – on the beaches, in the parks, on the streets and, most of all, at the BLM protests – it nitpicks over details of one of our most precious and personal human interactions as though it were grudgingly allowing a prison visit.
These precautions should be put in place, we are told, ‘to minimise contact and ensure the timeframe is as short as possible’. Ideally, the ceremony should be limited to the parts that are legally binding.
It is hideous. There is no other word for it. It reads like the rules nailed to the wall of a dark Satanic mill to make sure the workers know their place. The North Koreans could not have dreamt up a more killjoy code.
It’s certainly enough to make already disappointed couples weep – or decide to give up altogether. If the Government was not so tin-eared and ignorantly autocratic, it would realise that’s a far worse problem than Covid-19.
Marriage is already in crisis in this country. The latest 2107 ONS data reported just 242,842 marriages in England and Wales, the lowest on record. This was a decrease of 2.8 per cent from 2016, following a continuous downward slide from 426,000 marriages in 1972, when the population was significantly smaller.
So what you may say? Well, marriage matters. Research by the Marriage Foundation incontrovertibly shows an ever widening marriage gap. It remains the norm only amongst the better-off – 90 per cent of better-off parents are married, compared with just over 20 per cent of the poorest.
Marriage has become the exception for the less well off, even though it is they, with the fewest resources most need its stability. Those who marry are far more likely to remain together as parents and to bring up children without mental health problems.
For those who don’t, well the odds are stacked against their staying together. Family breakdown leads to problems such as homelessness, prison, alcoholism, debt and reliance on benefits. And what does the double whammy of low income and family instability mean? It means the taxpayer has to foot the bill. Yet successive governments have happily supervised a shift of the tax and welfare burden off individuals and on to married families, creating the reverse of a marriage trap and dis-incentivising the very parental ‘lifestyle choice’ best for their children.
You would have hoped the recent huge intake of Conservative MPs would get it, and would be doing everything to encourage commitment and marriage – if not for children’s sake, then to reduce a family breakdown cost to the State calculated to be more than the defence budget.
But no. Johnson now seems happy to kill off marriage altogether. And unless he lifts this interfering and insulting regulatory kybosh, he will.
Do you agree that he has no right to do this? Do you agree that by reducing this fundamental wedding rite to another bureaucratic exercise in social distancing is not just dehumanising but will make society less civil than it is already? Discuss!