It seems as though the British establishment is under a great deal of scrutiny at the moment. Whether it's bankers, the media or BBC celebrities, they're all under the spotlight. Indeed, Nick Cohen in yesterday's Observer penned an excellent article suggesting that the British are engaged in a 'strange rebellion' ... 'turning on their failed elite and scourging their institutions'. There certainly needed to be, post-Suez, a reduction in the deference we paid to politicians; but I suspect the amount of cynicism around at the moment is a double edged sword. Too much cynicism destroys the trust we have in our institutions and each other. Maybe it's already happened, with the BBC the last institution standing about to topple into the mire.
Our politicians are often in the firing line, but there is one area of policy where I'd hoped they might redeem themselves just a little - mental health. This year we had an excellent mental health debate in the House of Commons with several MPs speaking about their own experience of mental illness. Today the leader of the Labour Party will speak about the need to stop making light of mental illness: Ed Miliband: time to stop caricatures of mentally ill He will commit himself to changing the NHS constitution so that individuals living with mental illness have the same rights as those diagnosed with a physical illness. This is good news. Mr Milliband is calling for a change in our culture and a change in policy.
But there is a problem. Whilst the Government has announced extra spending on young people's mental health services, dementia research and just last week an extra £50 million for dementia care, the overall picture for mental health services is of cuts to budgets and services, with only one quarter of people living with mental illness getting the help they need. So whilst our politicians talk about support for mental health provision we might be excused for being a little sceptical, even cynical, if that talk is not accompanied (finally) by adequate funding. Fine gestures from our politicians are welcome but in the words of Walter Mondale,'Where's the beef?'