How to groom an MP for marriage

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The Independent Online
He's young, he's got to the top, he speaks for his generation and he's got a beautiful blonde chick on his arm. But any fans who hope for a Hello! style wedding are to be disappointed - William Hague seems to be in no hurry to get married.

While Oasis stars Noel and Liam Gallagher have both been spliced recently, Mr Hague is not to be rushed. It's quite something when the leader of the Tory party is living in sin while rock stars who spit on stage and utter four-letter words have made honest women of Meg and Patsy. Ffion Jenkins has moved quietly into Mr Hague's flat and - horrors - is likely to be sharing the same room at Blackpool's Imperial Hotel this autumn for the Conservative Party Conference, even though they will still be unmarried.

Meanwhile that other bachelor boy gorgeous, Gordon Brown, after years of dating PR executive Sarah Macaulay, has at last been seen out having dinner with her. Yet, in common with Hague, he also seems slow to tie the knot. Like Mae West, both politicians may feel that marriage is a great institution, but they're not ready for an institution yet.

Perhaps it's right that neither wants to marry in haste and face a messy divorce. ("William, 82 of those Tory MPs are mine, I don't care what you say, we got them together. No I'm not taking John Redwood. I'll have Alan Clark.")

But there is a very modern way of avoiding these embarrassing break-ups. To combat the rising divorce rate in the US state of Louisiana "love pacts" have been introduced - pre- marital contracts which, once signed, mean that couples can only divorce in the most extreme of circumstances - such as if their spouse is a convict on death row. These love pacts are at present voluntary but, once signed, have the full force of law and, it is hoped, will make couples think more seriously about what marriage means and how to make it work.

In the Chancellor's case Sarah would do well, at the very start, to throw out those dreary Scots rock CDs of which Gordon is so fond. In return she could promise not to yawn during descriptions of neo-classical endogenous growth theory and not to ask what the point of the Millennium Dome really is. Gordon should also stop bragging about going out with a Romanian princess - if there's one thing a girl can't stand it's hearing about her predecessor - and, the way our Royal Family is going, in a few years it'll be an unusual man indeed who hasn't stepped out with a princess.

But it's Ffion who must really get the love pact sorted out satisfactorily, unless she wants to hear endless recordings of That Speech serenading her at all hours of the night. Put your foot down, girl - no yogic flying in the bedroom, he'll only end up breaking something. Ban Cecil Parkinson from pinching your bottom - he really does need to be told. Don't let William drink alcohol - we all know he gets silly after a glass of champagne. And, if you ever make it to Number 10, don't don't don't invite Baroness Thatcher round to dinner. She'll never leave. And for goodness' sake, whatever else you do, agree in advance who's going to get custody of Michael Howard.

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