I was genuinely delighted to see Ed Miliband and long term partner Justine Thornton announce that they are (finally) getting married. There is either something in the spring air at the moment or Brits are just getting a little over-excited about another Royal wedding as I seem to have been informed of a sudden flood of engagements. By the way, by Royal wedding I meant William and Kate. I am not suggesting Ed’s is in the same league. I did though see a link to some rather disturbing “Ed and Jus” wedding memorabilia on the internet but I am not posting it here so as not to lower the tone!
I have been critical of Ed, who has two children with Justine, in the past for perhaps not sending the right message about the importance of marriage. If our leading political figures put little store in it, how are we supposed to convince the next generation that getting married is an important commitment worth pursuing? But his wedding in Nottingham in May will address that issue in my book.
Of course it was unfortunate that the announcement of the impending nuptials this week coincided with new statistics that show the marriage rate in England and Wales has fallen to its lowest rate since 1862. The Guardian didn’t miss the opportunity to run those two topics together in one story.
The Office for National Statistics is blaming the decline on a rise in people cohabiting. How long did it take them to work that one out? There are also suggestions that financial worries in the current climate are putting more people off splashing out on a wedding, which we all know can cost a fortune – but doesn’t have to.
However, as a footnote to the Miliband marriage story, I must add that part of me can’t help but be slightly cynical at the “move”. Is it politically motivated? Ed has said in the past that he always intended to get married but “politics got in the way”, the inference being that he was too busy. Now, as leader of the Opposition, one of the most high profile roles in British Parliament, he has more time and less politics to get in his way.
Does this say something about the input needed for Labour’s top job? Or does it suggest that advisers have said that by getting married he can tick another box in terms of political popularity and presenting a wholesome image? I guess some people just can’t win no matter what they do.