I’m not really for getting angry… irritated, yes – even ‘irked’ but rarely angry. That’s the Stoic in me, I suppose. But this morning, just briefly I felt a flash of rage that, however brief has become all too familiar when certain politicians pretend to care about people with mental health problems.
Specifically, any time any member of the destructive ConDem coalition that so thoroughly undermined the work of all aspects of the NHS, not just mental health tries to pass themselves off as compassionate human beings I just want to puke. You might imagine how my stomach turned when a friend tagged me in this recent little Facebook gem from erstwhile LibDem leader, Tim Farron.
To be fair, he has consistently voted against the bedroom tax, to no avail but at least he tried and he has had the decency to keep his personal religious beliefs out of the political realm without trying to inflict Roman Catholic dogma on the rest of us. This is definitely noteworthy in the case of parliamentary debates and divisions around gay marriage and a woman’s right to choose. For these genuinely rights-orientated actions I and many others who value human rights and civil liberties applaud him. He could have stuck with his religion but he chose to come down on the side of rights instead, abstaining rather than undermining secular progress. If he were claiming credit for those things I’d be making a very different video. Sadly, alas, that’s not what he’s currently squawking about.
Mr. Farron, whose middle name really ought to be ‘soapbox’ due to the permanent presence of his portable personal platform to stand on at a moment’s notice, said…
“Everyone knows that mental health crises don’t just happen between 9-5 on weekdays,”
Of course not, Tim – now they can hyappen right up until 8pm and 1 O’Clock on weekends. Well, that’ll make all the difference, won’t it!
You can bill this as ‘out of hours’ cover if you like but the truth is that it’s nothing more than slightly extended hours brought about by the CCG. It’s inappropriate to claim it as a victory and hypocritical in light of the fact that your lot are the reason the CCG lacked the funds to do it earlier.
The ConDem government, of which you were a major part systematically starved the NHS, in particular mental health services of funds from the moment you LibDems took it upon yourselves to be King-makers. It wasn’t just the students you betrayed. You betrayed everyone who relies upon public services like the NHS and even rural communities like your own whose vital resources like libraries and subsidised buses were attacked. And you were right up there among the party leadership starving us of the ability to do our jobs in anything even approaching consistency.
You don’t get brownie points for forcing the CCG to do something they would have done years ago if you hadn’t screwed up their funding.
So which other part of the NHS has had to go without in this little exercise of robbing Peter to pay Paul (sorry – to pay Conservative and LibDem donors)? You can cry all you like about caring for people with mental health problems but those of us who work in the NHS really don’t believe you. Those of us who understand the causes of mental disorder, be they NHS or not don’t believe you.
Decades of studies have shown that the two biggest indicators of vulnerability to mental health problems in the developed world are poverty and social inequality. You have personally been instrumental in making both these problems worse. Let’s just take a look at your voting record, Mr. Caring, shall we?
On Jan 31 2011 you voted to increase GP’s commissioning power, thus letting government off the hook when problems like this one arose.
On March 29th 2011 you voted to increase inequality and poverty by voting for a budget with a shortfall of £121 billion built in but which included cuts in corporation tax and an increase in the personal tax allowance thus benefitting everyone except the very poorest who didn’t pay income tax in the first place.
The following month, April 26th you voted to reduce corporation tax still further and pulling middle-earners into higher income tax brackets as part of government measures which included giving millions of pounds in tax bonuses to the most wealthy.
In February 2012 you were absent from the vote on ‘Opposition day’, intended to pull back some of the power from the banks and get money flowing to those who needed it again. Thanks for your help there, Tim.
In March and April 2012 you again voted to raise income tax thresholds, thus helping all but the poorest in our society and to reduce corporation tax again. Way to go if you want to increase inequality in society, Tim. That’s the very thing that we need to decrease if we really care about mental health. Not piss about with a few hours by holding some other part of the NHS to ransom through the CCG!
Additionally you voted in the main to prevent greater regulation of gambling – a trade renowned for preying on the desperate and vulnerable. You voted to cap civil service redundancy payments (but presumably don’t object to MPs getting cushy jobs after they leave the house), You generally voted to restrict legal aid for the least well-off, thus enhancing their powerlessness along with their increased inequality. What a champion of the people you turned out to be, Tim.
There’s more, of course, as you know. You voted against restrictions on fees charged by letting agents to those who can’t afford to buy their own properties and you supported, even chaired a party that betrayed its own electorate and the nation in general by enabling the most divisive government this country has seen for decades.
You’re no champion of mental health. The Draconian state we live in today is a major contributor both to the development of mental health problems and to the difficulty in providing effective treatment. These problems, caused by you and your cronies will not go away because you’ve coersed a cash-strapped CCG into redefining working hours a bit just so that you can score a few political brownie points.