I'm more than happy for every effort to be made to assist people with mental health problems. Sadly there are still people who think that those suffering from mental illness should "snap out of it". The reality is that it is every bit as much an illness as a broken leg. If you broke your leg you would expect to have it treated pretty rapidly, and so people with mental health problems should expect the best treatmen available.
What I do not agree with is the government's proposal to repeal Section 141 of the Mental Health Act. This part of the act disqualifies MPs from Parliament if they have been sectioned for longer than six months. Nick Clegg is proudly shouting about this measure, maybe because in over 100 years there have only been two MPs sacked under this act, and both were Liberal MPs.
MPs have responsibility for life and death decisions. They have responsibility for war and sending thousands of young men to death. Is it too much to ask that Members of Parliament should be of sound mind? Yes, Winston Churchill had his "black dog" and nobody would expect MPs suffering from depression to be barred from office. But Churchill's depression was different from being sectioned for more than six months, which is why, since 1886, only two MPs have fallen foul of Section 141. It is hardly being abused.
Taking a look at the other aspect of this issue would you be happy to have no representation in Parliament for more than six months? OK, there are lots of comedy opportunities here, but being serious I don't think, in an ideal world, any of us would or should be happy with that state of affairs. Certainly if your MP died in office you would be very angry if you had to wait more than six months for the chance to elect a successor, especially when a Parliament only lasts a maximum of five years, six months means no representation for one tenth of a Parliament.
Sadly Nick Clegg is once again playing gesture politics, trying to look so caring and compassionate. In reality he is showing how shallow and hypocritical our political class, especially this Coalition government, really are.
I wonder what would happen if the Prime Minister were sectioned for more than six months? Too right he would be replaced. But a mere MP? Well, he only represents 60,000 or so voters, we don't matter.