Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Marriage and the Broader Politics

The gay equality issue in the House of Commons second reading to introduce marriage for all couples is like a necessary unfinished business in the life of parliament, but one I suspect that remains unfinished even as and when passed. The fact is it isn't equal, even at this point. This is what has given the antis their argument, that it is a "redefinition of marriage". The heterosexuals who marry still have to consummate; failure to do so and then adultery remain grounds for divorce. The homosexuals who marry do not have to consummate and have to commit "unreasonable behaviour" in order to divorce. Thus there ceases to be a unity in marriage. Furthermore, there is a division without accepting it between marriage of the State and marriage of religion including by the Church of the State. On the first matter the question is how do gay people consummate the marriage, when authorities won't tackle the matter of gay sex (and how would lesbians consummate the marriage?) and on the second should there not be State marriage which Churches can bless if they want?

So a better piece of legislation would have been that, yes, marriage is redefined, but as a unity: unreasonable behaviour, which is what heterosexuals use anyway, becomes the basis for divorce, and consummation ceases to be a maker of marriage. After all, many who perhaps could (under certain cirumstances) don't consummate or can't and don't tell. On the State and Churches, a better piece of legislation would require the official of the State to be present and that provide the basis of the marriage: this might be the same person as a religious celebrant or someone else present, and the established Church cease to have privileges and duties in this matter. It would have the freedom to turn down any marriage and indeed only do the marriages it wants. Disestablishment seems to be knocking at the door now - Church and State are themselves undergoing a separation.

British legislation always seems to be messy. Surely nothing is messier or nastier than the bedroom tax, which attacks the poorest the most and denies a wider, visiting, family life of extended children and grandparents, and lives in denial that people can sublet to pay the loss of income, which would be counted as a form of income anyway regarding other benefits. Any sensible approach to this (if possible at all) would have always allowed at least a spare bedroom, starting thus at two and not one. This is a most vicious tax, and comes on top of creating a poll tax out of the council tax. People simply won't be able to budget. And this has been introduced with Liberal Democrats in office, which is extraordinary, and becomes another, indeed the most serious reason, why they should not only be removed from office but vanish as a result of the utter betrayal of their electorate since taking office. They haven't just been the Tories's wooden leg, but have done it with enthusiasm. They've joined in with the clueless and incompetent person that passes for a Chancellor these days and the inadequate PR man that passes for a Prime Minister.

It's unfortunate but I conclude that an important piece of legislation regarding marriage has been a sop to try to maintain Prime Minister Cameron's 'radical' side, especially as the Green agenda has been largely parked. It is a good thing, and you'd vote for it, but it is still incompetent legislation when thinking it through. The House of Lords might straighten some of it out (excusing the pun).

The fundamental error the Liberal Democrats have made is believing the statistics. There is nothing significantly different between our economy and some other middle and weaker players in Europe. We have huge numbers of economically inactive people; we also have very large numbers of underemployed people (which is all that is achieved by a 'flexible labour market'). The unemployment figures are a sham, a lie, and no one trying to get a job believes them for a minute. Ramming the economy into the wall and then doing it again and again does not get us out of recession, it just adds to the woe. Then reducing benefits will reduce purchasing in the economy and deepen the recession.

After the bubble burst the curves of LM and IS shifted towards a more Keynesian shape. The answer to the economic conundrum is to spend and invest. The answer they have come up with is 'money cheap' - no result - and then 'money flood' as in quantitative easing. Result - nothing. Take the old fashioned MV = PT equation. M is money and V is velocity, and it equals Prices times Transactions. Quantitative easing represents more M but there is no V to speak of in this recession. So money gets made, but it gets parked. So nothing happens. What is needed is T to be increased. Quantitative easing is proof that the State can do this for next to no cost. Furthermore, States have the power to simply wipe debt: tough on creditors but it was always this way. That's part of their risk.

At the least debt could have been paid while maintaining some spending. I seem to remember that this was the policy of the Liberal Democrats. They agreed with Labour. But they went in with the Conservatives and decided a wholesale change of policy. As with just about everything else. Left with constitutional change as their only significant likely contribution, the Conservatives saw that off too and the Liberal Democrats finished by denying them their constituencies' gerrymandering.

Apparently down in Eastleigh the Tory versus Lib Dem battle has favoured the Lib Dems. This somewhat disappoints me as I want the Lib Dems to pay dearly for what they have done: the contempt in which they have used their electoral votes. In the north of England and in Wales the Lib Dems will be wiped out, I would think. But isn't Eastleigh Nigel Farage's (UKIP) best chance to get a seat in the House of Commons? My friends say he'll calculate on what if he loses. Just about everything he stands for I don't, but I can imagine the disgruntled Tories going to him and the protest-based and oppositional vote in the Lib Dems going to him. I'd have to vote Labour - I could not vote for him. There is an anti-European tide for Farage to use. But I look forward to this campaign in general because it will add to the weakening of the coalition and if the coalition fell apart then all the better.

But let's bring it down to brass tacks: how the Liberal Democrats can support this bedroom tax beats me. Somebody has to stop this: beating people into poverty, denying them a family life, is not a way to encourage yet more underemployment, if it can be found. This is nasty stuff. We might expect it from the Conservatives, which is why they weren't elected, but we don't expect the Conservatives to still be able to do these things thanks to a party that got itself elected on an entirely different basis. Well, we won't get fooled again.

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