A question for all married men and women who read this blog. Did you invite your MP to either your wedding or your wedding reception?
I do not know a single person who has. Given Members of Parliament have a big enough free ride as it is, the idea of paying for their free food and drink on what is supposed to be the happiest day of your life sounds well - strange. It is not however a strange idea if you are Bodrul Islam or his now wife Mahbuba Kamali. Back in August 2009 they invited Poplar MP Jim Fitzpatrick to their wedding at the London Muslim Centre - even though they had never met him. Mr Fitzpatrick, although he had never met the happy couple, accepted.
History now records that Jim Fitzpatrick was asked to sit apart from his own wife at the wedding (as is the norm at many Muslim ceremonies) and walked out in protest. A local storm ensued, fanned skillfully by the Respect Party, and it remains an issue in the Poplar and Limehouse constituency at the general election., where George Galloway is standing against Fitzpatrick. Bodul Islam himself is now standing for Respect in the council elections on May 6th, in Tower Hamlets Bromley-by-Bow ward.
Fitzpatrick's behaviour at the wedding was curious - one wonders what he thought happens at weddings at the London Muslim Centre. Was he expecting a bar as well? What is most significant about the affair though is what it tells us about how politics (and business?) is conducted in much of Tower Hamlets. How odd it looks to any outsider looking in that a couple should invite a man they have never met to their wedding, and he should accept, even though he does not know the couple concerned.
If I was getting married this summer, and invited Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier to come, would she do so? She would not even consider it. Ask yourself if your MP would come along if you invited them to the next wedding in your family? The answer is almost certainly no.
Why then the invitation to Fitzpatrick from his constituents? The whole thing is suggestive of a pair of constituents who recognise the power and importance of their MP, and an MP who feels that some of his constituents are so important he needs to be seen in their company.
Looked at in those terms, it is hard to feel too much sympathy for either party.