Britain at economic and moral crisis point – letter in Guardian 2.6.17

Britain at economic and moral crisis point

Clare Slaney, Richard House and 73 others involved in the mental health field say that voters face an unusually grave choice on 8 June
Pic:  Commuters on London Bridge during rush hour. ‘Workplace stress is at epidemic proportions,’ write Clare Slaney, Richard House and others. Photograph: Alamy
British society is in crisis. Suicide is now the leading cause of death in men under 45. The Royal Society of Medicine tells us that “relentless cuts” have led to an extra 30,000 deaths. A report to the UN from the Equality and Human Rights Commission noted that work capability assessments “have been linked to suicides and cases of deteriorating mental health”. Benefit sanctions have caused hunger, hypothermia, homelessness and deaths. It is scarcely believable that food banks have become a societal norm. Workplace stress is at epidemic proportions, with working conditions increasingly amounting to servitude. People work for pitiful wages and uncertain numbers of hours, while the highly paid are expected to work a 70-plus hour week. Increasingly, people have to fit sleep around their working life. Employment and wealth have become the primary arbiters of a person’s value and character.

In our view, voters need to revisit fundamental values. Are human beings nothing more than economic units? Are some people valued more than others? Are vulnerable people deserving of public expenditure, or are they disposable? Do neighbours and communities matter – or are we merely people in housing units? Poverty creates chronic mental and physical illnesses that cost a great deal across the life cycle. UK productivity is the lowest in the G7, in part because of stress, because increasing numbers of people hate their jobs, but also because employers refuse to meaningfully invest in their workforce. Treating people as objects has destructive economic effects at every level.

Britain is at economic and moral crisis point. The election on 8 June offers voters an unusually grave choice: continuing further into a social Darwinist future; or looking critically at what this model of society has generated and choosing something different. England recently ranked 13th out of 16 countries for children’s life satisfaction. Does it have to be like this? You can use your vote on 8 June to address these questions.
Clare Slaney Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility, Richard House Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy, Roy Bard Mental Wealth Alliance, Richard Bagnall-Oakeley Psychotherapy and Counselling Union, Eugene Ellis Black African and Asian Therapy Network, Paula Peters Disabled People Against Cuts, Denise McKenna Mental Health Resistance, Tamsin CurnowPsychologists for Social ChangePaul Atkinson Free Psychotherapy Network, Alec Mcfadden Salford TUC, Rich Moth Social Work Action Network, Helen SpandlerAsylum magazine, Susie Orbach, Andrew Samuels, Alexandra Chalfont, Andy Metcalf, Anita Bellows, Anna Rose, Barbara Bentham, Beatrice Millar, Beth Glanville, Birgitta Heiller, Bruce Scott, Cath Collins, Chris Wise, David Morgan, Dean Kester, Debbie Porteous, Doron Levene, Edward Garner, Eileen Short, Elizabeth Bubez, Els van Ooijen, Gillian Proctor, Gordon Jones, Gottfried Heuer, Greg Madison, Helen Edwards, Ian Parker, Irris Singer, Jack Youd, Jane Clement, Janice Acquah, Jay Watts, Jenny Secretan, Jeremy Weinstein, Jon Blend, Judith Anderson, Kate O’Halloran, Libby Kerr, Linda Burnip, Lynne Friedll, Lynne Lacock, Maggie Fisher, Mary-Jayne Rust, Matthew Bowes, Matthew Henson, Marion Winslow, Michael Caton, Mike Shallcross, Natasha Stuc, Nicola Saunders, Olivia Cunningham, Peter Cruickshank, Peter Dinsmore, Riva Joffe, Robert Stearn, Roger Lewis, Ros Howell, Salma Siddique, Seb Randall, Suzanne Keys, Trudi Macagnino, Val Allen, Viviane Carneiro

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