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Are our MPs mentally ill? Or just useless?


A STUDY has found that more than a third of MPs probably have mental ill-heath. According to the report, published in BMJ Open, MPs are more likely to suffer distress, depression and similar conditions than others in high-level jobs, and 34 per cent in the survey had ‘probable mental ill health’, twice the proportion of those in comparable work.

The study, a questionnaire really, put to 146 MPs (those who responded to an invitation to all 650 MPs to participate) was co-authored by Dr Dan Poulter, himself an MP and practising NHS psychiatrist.

Dr Poulter and his colleagues analyse possible reasons for this. Being an MP can be lonely; it’s high stress (‘more brickbats than bouquets’); living away from home and loved ones; feelings of worthlessness, unhappiness and depression; low levels of concentration and lack of deep sleep; less capable of making decisions; no job security, long hours. To quote the report: ‘A higher weighted proportion of MPs could not overcome difficulties, were less able to enjoy everyday activities, were less able to face up to their problems, reported losing confidence in themselves or feeling unhappy and depressed, and considered themselves to be a worthless person.’

Much blame is laid at the door of the whipping system, essentially a medium of ‘abuse, harassment and bullying’. ‘The partisan, and occasionally confrontational and aggressive environment of Westminster can also damage an MP’s well-being’.

Oh dear. What about the well-being of their constituents? Snowflakes are not known for their resistance to the heat of the kitchen.

The implications of this report are many and troubling, but for us, not the MPs. First of all, because the questionnaire was conceived in the first place. More importantly, what constituent would vote for a representative who admits to feeling worthless and has difficulty making decisions? Indeed, who would vote for a school captain who couldn’t face up to the 5th form bully, and win?

Long hours, no job security? Poor darlings. What about the many hours spent in subsidised restaurants and bars; golden handshakes on the misfortune of not being re-elected; generous salary and expenses and ministerial cars to protect them from the louts on the Clapham Omnibus after a late vote. It’s not exactly the gig economy.

What really worries me is that maybe a good proportion of MPs are now having to face up to the fact that they’re just not up to the job. After decades of important competences being delegated to the bureaucracies of the EU, the government and the civil service are now left with a crowd of numpties who haven’t a clue, and are getting nervous.

About what? Well, Brexit. You never know, it might happen, in which case our MPs would be faced with the gargantuan task of running the country responsibly.

Even worse is the realisation that a Leave Cabinet and Government might well turn out to be like Benny Hill running the Boy Scouts. It’s enough to turn a dedicated Leaver into a surrendered Remainer.

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Janice Davis
Janice Davis
Janice Davis is a grandmother and former girls’ grammar school teacher

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