Jane Shilling

An end to cock tax? Not likely…but women are more economically empowered now

Apparently, according to Jane Shilling at The Telegraph women have moved on from gold digging.

But if anyone thinks that this is an end to cock tax then I have a bridge I can sell you.

I have never been to an Islington dinner party, mainly because I?m nervous of the conversations I might have to endure. Over plates laden with Nigel Slater?s pumpkin laksa, I shudder to imagine the banter that embraces the outrageous cost of educating one?s children or the thrilling rise in London property prices ? areas in which I find myself sadly short of conversational roughage.

Then again, the independent peer Baroness Deech, evidently an habitu?e of such gatherings, suggests that the discourse runs in different channels. According to her, the hot topic for kitchen supps in north London isn?t state versus private or equity release, but d-i-v-o-r-c-e. ?Go to an Islington dinner party and say the word divorce,? she remarked recently, ?and people will tell you the most horrendous stories.?

Divorce, like people?s operations, does lend itself to horrendous stories. When flesh or emotions are raw and weeping, the narratives tend to come up lengthy and lurid. But what the Baroness really seems to have meant is that it?s the men who will tell you horrendous divorce stories. And on this vivid anecdotal basis, she proposes a change in the law.

Baroness Deech is currently steering a private member?s Bill through the Upper House that would make pre- and post-nuptial agreements binding. The idea is that in future, when couples divorce, the assets they acquire after their wedding should be divided, but that the division should not include whatever the parties brought to the marriage. A jolly sensible idea, you might think, and a boon to the sweet-natured Bertie Wooster type of chap who gets his assets ruthlessly stripped by gold-digging trollops from vaudeville and other low joints.

Do they still exist, these delightful stereotypes? Yes indeed, according to Baroness Deech ? though in a slightly different social milieu from that of?PG Wodehouse?s Drones Club (or, indeed, the Islington dinner tables or the High Table of St Anne?s College, Oxford, where she was principal for 14 years). Existing divorce legislation, she argues, intimates to young women that financial security lies not in an honest day?s toil, but in marrying a rich man. ? Read more »