It is simply wrong to try and stop divorce

Whatever sentimental attachments I have acquired in my 40 years in Britain are based in the West Country. Some 36 years ago, I was drawn in marriage to a young woman from that part of the world. I returned to Devon last weekend, drowned myself in its amazing beauty, disinfected my feet from its diseased farms and wondered at its dreadful incapacity to face the 21st century.

Totnes is perhaps the quirkiest of all towns in this kingdom. It has more therapists per head of population than anywhere else in Europe. The hippies must have come, stayed and vegetated.

I attended a marriage-enrichment weekend with middle-aged, middle-class couples, about eight of them. They are all evangelical Christians who oppose divorce, who desperately want to halt the flow of men and women going to the courts to end their marriages.

To prevent this, they have put their faith in mentors. The idea is that a couple (one already married) are appointed by the local vicar to mentor a prospective married couple. The mentors keep an eye on the couple up to the point of marriage and for at least the first year of the marriage - possibly for as long as five years. It is upon this rock, they think, that relationships are built.

That is not all. The advocates of mentoring wish to extend it to children in schools, to nurses who deliver babies in hospitals, to doctors. All of these captive audiences will be taught relationship skills, which will be fed back into marriages to keep them stable. No one who is currently in this loop has been trained in anything. They describe themselves as simple, ordinary people acting according to their experience.

They insist that God created marriage: I insist that Jesus was a bastard. Their happy, clappy Christianity avoids any serious theological debate. I tend to admire missionaries until I confront them in the flesh. Without fail, they become willing tools to sinister forces.

These mentors are being funded by the Lord Chancellor's department. I was astounded, simpleton that I am. I think about love, about sensuality, about sexuality, about all the virtues found in a relationship between two people. The Lord Chancellor's department is the last institution with which I associate such things.

But the Lord Chancellor is determined to cut the costs of divorce. Therefore, he finances anti-divorce busybodies to keep the victims of marriage within their prisons.

The estimated annual cost to the government of the consequences of divorce is said to be £15bn. One of the mentors asked me: "Darcus, do you want your tax to contribute to this huge sum?" I looked him straight in the eye and said: "Yes, I do."

I remember when I first came to England and met the brutality of racism. The general attitude among the liberal middle classes was to lay the blame on black people. We were not adjusting to reality. They organised tea-and-sympathy weekends. I was attached to a family in Hampstead. The do-gooders taught us table manners (my parents had done that in my childhood), how to speak, how to make friends with whites. They taught us about policing. The police weren't racist, they said: we simply didn't understand British policing.

Same method, different institution. Couples are mentored to adjust to the reality of life, not change it.

These folks in Totnes can, in the twinkling of an eye, describe to you the conditions which undermine relations between men and women. But they do not, for one moment, wish to alter these conditions, only for us to adjust to the existing fixed, fast and frozen reality.

If we blacks had accepted our mentoring, in the spirit of tea and sympathy, the battle against racism would never have got off the ground.

Divorce represents the victory of women. Unless we grow to see it from their perspective, there will always be these busybodies about, active and willing to put Humpty-Dumpty together again.

Darcus Howe is an outspoken writer, broadcaster and social commentator. His TV work includes ‘White Tribe’ in which he put Anglo-Saxon Britain under the spotlight. He also fronted a series called Devil’s Advocate.