Norman

Some years ago I heard Michael Palin being described as ‘the nicest man in England’ and he may well have been given an award to that effect. At the time I thought yes I can see that, you can’t think of Palin doing anything but good.

But in politics few people are thought of as being nice, yet one man stands out for me – Norman Lamb MP. Now don’t get me wrong, like many other Remainers, I have struggled with Norman’s struggles over whether he would back a Brexit Deal. His agonising over Johnson’s deal, which from an economic assessment perspective was worse even than May’s deal, befuddled many of us. Why on earth was Norman drawn to the deal in any way? Sadly, some folks frustration with this lovely man boiled over and things were said about him which clearly hurt.

We say we want MP’s who are independent thinkers and who don’t just slavishly follow the party line but when we then see such MP’s in action, particularly when they are drawn to supporting/not supporting a cause which means a lot to us, we get upset.

Former Lib Dem MP for Southport John Pugh

Locally, the former MP for Southport John Pugh could be said to have approached his time in politics with an independent mind and at times he caused frustration in Liberal ranks for that independence of mind. The problem with being a Liberal MP is that Lib Dem supporters expect those MP’s to have libertarian views about every subject, but of course we are all flawed so sometimes a Liberal MP will come up with a stance which makes other Liberals stand up and shout at them.

But back to Norman Lamb because other than his agonising over Brexit deals which virtually no other Liberal could get their head around he really is the kind of person anyone would want for their MP. His work to raise the profile of metal health issues whilst being an MP has been tremendous and it’s clearly such a big matter to him that he will be continuing to campaign for those less fortunate after he steps down from Parliament at the December General Election. Indeed, he’s already set up a mental health charitable trust primed with a significant amount of his own money to get it going.

I met Norman when he visited Liverpool in 2017 and he really is the kind of person who has time to talk with people. He’s pictured above with my daughter Jen. Here’s a link back to my previous posting about that visit to Liverpool:-

tonyrobertson.mycouncillor.org.uk/2017/10/21/norman-lamb-the-mp-who-gives-voice-to-mental-health-issues/

MP’s like Norman are sadly few and far between with so many of them being sheep following the crowd and/or their party. What we need are more independently minded MP’s who despite driving us mad when they, in our view, go off the rails on a particular matter are actually sound, decent and will stick two fingers up to the political charlatans rather than fall in behind them.

Norman Lamb MP

By the way what is Palin’s flaw, he must have one?

PS. I’m presently Reading Palin’s 2018 book ‘Erebus – the story of a ship’, it is as you might expect a great read.

It’s time to give a **** about mental illness

www.normanlamb.org.uk/norman_lamb_swears_to_take_on_mental_illness

The story is Lib Dem MP Norman lamb’s web site – see link above

Norman Lamb MP

I think it fair to say that I don’t see eye to eye with Norman over some things but on this subject he is spot on and always has been.

The lack of significant progress fast enough to transform mental health care treatment is inexcusable so I am more than happy to back the stance being taken by Norman and fellow MP’s across the political spectrum.

With thanks to Jen Robertson for the lead to this posting

Taking mental health issues seriously? Jen Robertson’s guest posting

Looking at the news you’d be forgiven for assuming that the House of Commons debated nothing but Syria and terrorism recently, of course that’s not actually the case. One item I found of particular interest was the issue of out of area placements in mental health raised by Norman Lamb. Norman himself has a fantastic record of campaigning for mental health to be taken as seriously as physical health problems are, and indeed his work in this area was one of the things that led to my decision to vote for him in the leadership elections. The issue he raised was the horrific practice whereby those in need of mental health (sometimes including children) care are sometimes sent hundreds of miles away from their homes and families due to a lack of available facilities in their local area.

Norman was fantastic on the subject, as ever. I admit his rhetoric isn’t as good as Tim’s, he seems less likely to ever deliver a speech that could bring a room to it’s feet for his oratory rather than it’s content, but his tireless pursual of mental health issues is wonderful. It’s clear the issue means a lot to him and it is also clear that this is a man who does his research and is far more interested in seeking solutions than in placing blame, something sadly not common enough in politics.

Debate video and transcripts can be found here:

www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/ad0175ac-dbfd-419f-b04d-75da804110f4 (play from about 14:12pm)

www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151203/debtext/151203-0003.htm (starts partway down the page, just look for Norman’s name)

What really struck me in this debate though was how sparsely it was attended. I was disappointed more of our own didn’t attend, only Norman, Mark Williams and Tom Brake were present, but attendance was even worse for all the other parties. There were a fair handful of Tories present and those that spoke on the issue did so well and respectfully, albeit very briefly, making relevant points and agreeing with Norman’s. The Labour benches (as you can see in this photo) were deserted.

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So much for this:

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-creates-new-dedicated-minister-for-mental-health-in-his-shadow-cabinet-10500075.html

Mr Corbyn and his party have a funny way of demonstrating their interest in, and commitment to, mental heath issues. I understand this wasn’t a major debate but it IS an important issue and when you have 232 MPs it shouldn’t be that difficult to find at least one person willing to show up!

The other parties were as far as I can tell (as in I watched the whole debate and couldn’t see evidence of them anywhere unless they’d got lost and sat down amongst the Tories) all notably absent too. I admit to being unsure if the issue is a relevant one in Scotland – if not perhaps the SNP can be excused their non-attendance, but if that is not the case then I’d argue they too have quite enough MPs to find someone to attend! The same excuse might I suppose be offered for the Northern Ireland MPs, I don’t know if they are affected by this issue or not. For the smaller English parties I do understand that a limited number of MPs inevitably means you will not be able to have a presence in the House at all debates, but it does show that this doesn’t seem to have been deemed much of a priority for any of them. Perhaps epitomising perfectly the struggle mental health issues have to achieve parity of esteem and even notice amongst politicians and public alike.

The problem in the debate didn’t lie in any of what was being expressed in the chamber but the fact that more than 90% of it’s members had so little interest in it that they didn’t even show up. How will this important issue ever truly progress without greater support?

Mental Health – Always the poor relation but recovery rates in Sefton are very poor indeed

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/liverpools-depression-recovery-rate-below-10132227

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The Liverpool Echo has the story – see link above.

Very worrying stats generally but South Sefton seems to be rock bottom on Merseyside for recovery from mental illness. Glad to say the Lib Dems have been pushing hard for mental health to be given the same recognition and funding levels within the NHS and indeed within Government policy as physical health.

Lib Dems – Cash pledge for mental health

Danny Alexander has said extra funding to improve children’s mental health services will be announced in this week’s budget, aimed at early intervention programmes to stop youngsters from developing serious and potentially fatal mental health conditions.

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The package will also include a doubling of cash for the treatment of armed forces veterans. Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “The rising number of children who contact ChildLine because they have mental health issues is deeply disturbing – and just as worrying is the lack of services to help them.” He warned that “we risk leaving a generation on the brink of despair”

The Times says the announcement is a major boost for its Time To Mind campaign, supported by politicians, business chiefs and show business stars. Alan Johnson, the former health secretary, backs the Times campaign in a separate piece for the paper where he says has made the provision of emergency hospital beds for adolescents with life-threatening mental health issues a personal political priority.

The Times newspaper covered this story

With thanks to the LGiU for the lead to this story.

Mental health – We need to invest in it

I received this letter by e-mail yesterday and have to say that it raises an issue that is far too often swept under the carpet. I am lucky having not suffered mental health problems but let’s face it we all know someone who has and they probably didn’t get the support from the NHS they needed.

*****

Hi Tony,

I’ve had mental health problems and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

These problems became worse when I went to university. I’d been struggling with my health and had been seeing health professionals for some time. When I went to university I moved away from those services and found that without the support I’d been receiving it was too much. Unfortunately, for me it meant dropping out.

Many universities and their student unions have put a lot of resources into their mental health and welfare services. When access is easy they can be used to their full potential, providing a lifeline for those who are finding it hard to cope. But many new students struggle to get access to this support at a challenging time in their lives. Some, like me, slip through the gaps.

My story didn’t have to end the way it did. Mental health is the elephant in the room at university, with 6 in 10 students saying they haven’t believed a fellow student who said they had mental health problems. That has to change.

We need to end the stigma of mental health and talk about this invisible illness that affects so many of us. It is never acceptable that someone is denied their chance to fulfill their potential because they are ignored or shamed.

This is why I’m campaigning with Liberal Youth and the Liberal Democrats to end the stigma. Will you share yours with me today?

All stories are anonymous—and you don’t have to be a young person to share.

Best,

Alex
Liberal Youth

P.S. Need to talk about Mental Health? Mind can help.