Who is ‘Red Ed’ and why should he get married?

The Daily Mail is anxious that we all know that Ed Miliband is not married to his partner (or as the Mail prefers to say: ‘partner’) as if this is supposed to shock us into thinking he is really evil. Just look at this headline: ‘Red Ed: I don’t do God, I don’t even believe in Him (but I WILL get married and I’m embarrassed my name isn’t on child’s birth certificate)‘. It is as if the Daily Mail has a total disconnect with reality, given the huge amount of people who live perfectly happy and loving lives without needing the formality of the marriage ceremony. The Daily Mail is also quick to imply that atheists are either not keen on marriage or should not have the cheek to get married, which is strange given than many atheists (myself included) get married quite happily in civil ceremonies that are about two people making a commitment to each other – without the need for praising god or pretending that we actually love god far more than each other and so forth.

The Daily Mail is also insisting on calling him ‘red Ed’ as if this is somehow clever or true or at all meaningful. It’s not, it is a pathetically callous smear given that such a term of abuse has been used primarily to destroy any individual or group striving for just a little fairness in society. I would encourage everyone to read Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath for a little context on exactly what a ‘red’ really is:

“What the hell is these reds anyway?”
Timothy scraped a little hill level in the bottom of the ditch. The sun made his white bristle beard shine. “They’s a lot of fellas wanta know what reds is.” He laughed. “One of our boys foun’ out.” He patted the piled earth gently with his shovel. “Fella named Hines – got ’bout thirty thousan’ acres, peaches and grapes – got a cannery an’ a winery. Well, he’s all a time talkin’ about ‘them goddamn reds.’ ‘Goddamn reds is drivin’ the country to ruin,’ he says, an’ ‘We got to drive these here red bastards out.’ Well, they were a young fella jus’ come out west here, an’ he’s listenin’ one day. He kinda scratched his head an’ he says, ‘Mr. Hines, I ain’t been here long. What is these goddamn reds?’ Well, sir, Hines says, ‘A red is any son-of-a-bitch that wants thirty cents an hour when we’re payin’ twenty-five!’ Well, this young fella thinks about her, an’ he scratches his head, an’ he says, ‘Well, Jesus, Mr. Hines. I ain’t no son-of-a-bitch, but if that’s what a red is – why, I want thirty cents an hour. Ever’body does. Hell, Mr. Hines, we’re all reds.’”

The Daily Mail mock Miliband for being a union man and they portray all unions as greedy and in some way undemocratic – as if demanding a fair wage and a decent pension is somehow evil socialism that must be stamped out. Look at the private sector, the Mail always argue, their employees don’t get decent salaries or pensions (accept of course the few at the gold-plated top of a pyramid of poverty) so why should public sector workers get treated differently? The Daily Mail wants all employees to be treated like shit, working from 18-68 (minimum) for a shit salary, crap holidays and a pathetic pension. The worst part is that readers of the Daily Mail seem to get right on board with this idea, believing that public sector benefits should be cut and working conditions worsened to bring them on par with the private sector (not that there is a massive difference anyway). You would think employees in the private sector would be arguing that all employees should get a fair wage and pension, rather than trying to drag everyone into the gutter.

As for the fuss the Mail makes about Ed Miliband’s ‘set-up’ causing ‘consternation since he became the first major political leader in British history not to be married to the mother of his children’, well that isn’t really true, at all. As a wonderful blog post points out:

First major political figure in British history not to be married to the mother of his children?

Poor Charles II. Forgotten again, and by a very Royalist newspaper.

Still he probably had a good time having kids (well, having the attendant sexual intercourse) with Lucy Walter, Elizabeth Killigrew, Catherine Pegge, Barbara Palmer, the Duchess of Portsmouth, Moll Davis, and of course, Nell Gwyn. What a randy monarch (but apparently not a major political leader despite being, y’know, a pretty major political leader and figure).

Of course there was also Henry I, William IV, numerous other male monarchs…

And what about David Lloyd George? Prime Minister from 1916-22, of whom a newspaper wrote in 2008 “there are no politicians today who could ever think of getting away with the uber-sexed personal life, peppered with illicit lovers and illegitimate offspring, that Lloyd George led over 14 years in Downing Street, first as Chancellor, then as Prime Minister, from 1908 to 1922.”

The newspaper in question? The Mail.

It would be really nice to live in a world where people could discuss fairness without being labelled a ‘red’ or an ‘agitator’ and in which marriage was irrelevant in the thought process of judging someone’s competence. I guess what I mean is: it would be really nice to live in a world where the Daily Mail didn’t exist.

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