Power of Love   Leave a comment


Ed and Justine announce their wedding date

Ed Miliband officially set the date for his wedding to long-term partner Justine this week, but why now?  For a couple who have been together for six years, have just entered their 40s and already appears to have a pretty stable relationship which has produced two children, a ‘sudden’ wedding (less than two months away on 27th May) seems bizarre to us outsiders.  Are political power games at work here?

Maybe Ed wanted to get into the news.  Critics have said he has been very quiet in terms of press coverage and so maybe he has been worried about dropping off the political radar.  Of course any extra media attention in the run up to the local elections in May would come in handy…

This would in turn help Mr Miliband’s political career as it is strongly thought that the public are more likely to warm to a political party leader who has the usual “married with kids” status; portraying the ‘perfect picture’ of the traditional family unit.

The issue of Ed’s unmarried couple relationship first arose during the Labour leadership election last year, along with the intriguing revelation that Ed had been ‘too busy’ to put his name on his son’s birth certificate!  Back then he seemed to defend his position by implying he didn’t think marriage was necessary to legitimise his relationship:

“I think marriage is a very important institution, but there are stable families that aren’t married and stable families that are married.  My love for Justine is profound and we’re a very close unit.”

Mr Miliband went even further when asked what he thought the British public might think about not being married to his long-term partner:

“I don’t think people care one way or the other about what other people do in their lives as long as they show responsibility to each other.”

These are two strange statements for a person who was planning to pop the question to say in public.  How come Ed is telling people it doesn’t matter that he’s not married one day and then setting a date for his wedding the next?  Perhaps I’m being cynical…

Ed himself argues that he has always wanted to marry Justine and wanted to have a wedding earlier but he’s just had a lot on his plate and it ‘feels right’ to do it now:

“At the end of the day we’re in our 40s and we’ve got two kids – so it wasn’t a case of me suddenly popping the question.  This is just something we think is right for us.”

There have been claims that his political workload whilst he worked his way up the political ladder, when he was in the Shadow Cabinet and most recently when he contested the Labour party leadership campaign was such a strain that he couldn’t think about getting married during those times.  This is a bit of a poor excuse though as surely he can’t expect us to believe that now he is the Labour party leader his workload has diminished?  Also, he obviously found plenty of time for other things whilst in those high-pressured jobs as his two children show…

So is Mr Miliband using the institution of marriage to charm the media in an attempt to get some nice press coverage which will hopefully help boost his public image as he simultaneously launches the Labour campaign for the upcoming local elections?  Of course I cannot know what Ed really had in mind when he announced the date for his wedding this week, but I can comment on the morality of someone feeling they need to get married because of what ‘society’ thinks.  I believe that, despite how much social change there has been to fight for the acceptance of homosexuality and the celebration of homosexual couples through civil partnerships, we are still lacking in our acceptance of unmarried couples, particularly those who have children together.  I don’t think it’s right that people – particularly those in the public eye – feel they have to bow to public pressure in this way.  It’s tragic that it is still seen in this day and age that the best way to succeed in British politics is to have a ‘normal’ stable family life; i.e. married with 2.4 children as the stereotype goes.

However, one thing we can applaud the bride and groom-to-be on is their plans to celebrate “in their own way”: there will be no best man or bridesmaids at this ceremony, so they are fighting against tradition in some small way.

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Posted 31/03/2011 by thinkmindy in ethics, Media, Politics

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