Categories
Power Dynamics

Whoever wins the election it will be business as usual

I wish ballot papers had an extra box titled None of the above for I might very well be tempted to use it. None of the parties have a coherent set of policies that can deal with the fundamental stresses and strains of our overheated economy and overburdened environment, but some have policies I can at least sympathise with.

According to conventional wisdom large companies support the Tory Party, but may I suggest a better barometer to gauge which way the wind is blowing. Over the last 40 years successive governments, Labour, Tory and Coalition, have overseen a transfer of power away from local institutions and small businesses to global corporations and supranational institutions. While the media present a dichotomy between a generous Labour Party and a prudent, but stingy, Conservative Party, both have pursued different aspects of the same basic strategy. It may surprise some to hear Tory leaders defend high levels of net migration, advocate the redefinition of marriage, support EU expansion and favour more childcare subsidies rather than shorter working weeks. These are all policies New Labour fully embrace as do many business leaders. They need government to create the conditions in whch they can prosper and expand their commercial empires. So let's look at key election issues through the eyes of the CEO of a large multinational:

Policy Big Business (Leftwing Tories, LibDems) Faux Left (Labour, SNP, Greens, Plaid Cymru) Faux Right (Right Tories / UKIP)
Economy More growth, at all costs More growth, but a little more for the poor and platitudes about green growth More growth, but bigger tax breaks for the rich
European Union Love it. Let's Expand the EU to Vladivostok and then join NAFTA Love it. We're all European now. Sceptical
Military We need to secure privileged access to key global resources We may ditch Trident nuclear missiles, but we support a European Defence Force and continued interventions in foreign conflicts. Greens and Left Labour may oppose NATO and some Middle East wars, but still support the concept of interventionism. Let's spend more on killing machines. However, UKIP is sceptcal about recent interventions.
Trident nuclear missile system We should pool our resources with other key global players. Trident belongs to the old US-centred world Left labour, SNP, PL and Green want to ditch Trident. LibDems want to downscale it. We need a nuclear deterrent in a dangerous world. UKIP pretend Trident would somehow be an independent nuclear deterrent.
US-led Military Intervention in trouble zones If it's good for American big business, it's probably good for us, but let's do business with China and India too We may pretend to oppose it. Greens and Left Labour often oppose military intervention, but Labour tends to support it on alleged humanitarian grounds. Ditto. UKIP opposed recent military escapes in Iraq, Libya and Syria, but support NATO.
Energy We need more by all means, conventional, nuclear and renewables. Love renewables, hate pollution. Let's outsource nasty energy sources Climate change and peak oil are false alarms. Let's frack away and get rid of ugly wind turbines.
Immigration Love it. Good for economic growth Wonderful, we are all human beings Let's control immigration, but deregulate trade
Free trade Love it. We need more. Love it, but let's try to regulate multinationals. However, the SNP want to lower corporation taxes to attract inward investment. Love it. Let's have more. Only UKIP claim they would regulate labour mobility and protect some small businesses against global competition.
Public Healhcare We need to grow the health market and sell more medication and services, but we need government to pay for it. Spend, spend, spend until we go broke and blame the Tories for all NHS failings. Spend a bit a less and keep quiet about backdoor privatisation plan, but blame Labour for NHS inefficiency.
Debt Economic growth will pay for it Let's pay off a little Let's pay off a little more
Welfare We need welfare to subsidise mass consumption and regulate social conflicts Let's ask big business to subsidise the poor in rich countries Let's wean people off welfare dependency
More mental healthcare Love it. We need happy and loyal workers and consumers. Love it. We must expand the range of potential victim groups Sceptical
More subsidised childcare We need more female sales supervisors and project managers to drive economic growth and supervise truculent or socially inept male engineers. Let's keep children away from mothers in creches so they can consume our subtle advertising Love it, all for women's rights and blaming working class men for women's problems. Slightly sceptical, but dare not admit it

Now let us briefly consider likely electoral outcomes.

  • Outright conservative win: Big business stays in control, but must tame the traditionalist Eurosceptic faction. LibDems may offer demand and supply support in key votes with a large number of Tory rebels. However, barring a huge surge in support away from UKIP and LibDems, the Tories are unlikely to win a majority of seats except by the slimmest of margins.
  • Tory/LibDem Coalition: This remains the most likely outcome if the LibDems can muster at least 20 seats though it may rely on demand and supply support from Ulster's Democratic Unionist Party
  • Tory / UKIP / DUP Pact: Not going to happen. UKIP is unlikely to gain more than 10 seats, but if it did it would do so at the expense of both Tories and Labour and not really affect the likely balance of power. Many pro-EU tories would defect and join forces with other coalition partners and large corporations would be unlikely to support Britain's exit from the EU.
  • Labour / SNP Pact: While this may alienate traditionalist English voters, big business may just support it in the full knowledge that they will be unable to fulfil their ambitious spending promises.
  • Labour / LibDem Coalition: This is a very likely outcome if Labour can win around 35%+ of the popular and Tories fail to get much more than 32%. With Labour just 20 odd seats short of an overall majority according to UK Polling Report and the LibDems still likely to win 20 odd seats. However, they may just rely on external supply and demand support from Plaid Cymru or SDLP should the new coalition fall short of an overall majority by just a few seats. Labour can drop some of its more ambitious spending plans. An interesting outcome would be if a LibLab coalition fell 10-20 or more seats short of majority and had to reach to accommodation with the SNP. A likely concession would be to ditch Trident.
  • ConLab Coalition: This is not as far-fetched as many observers would like to believe. Big business would rather maintain the façade of a democratic choice between caring Labour and entrepreneurial Conservatives. However, if continued membership of European Union and free labour movement remain critical for large multinationals, they may do anything to prevent UKIP or the Greens from gaining any decisive influence over government. A ConLab coalition would probably see the defection of some leftwing Labour MPs to the Greens or alternative far-left groupings, but the gulf between official Labour and pro-EU Tories is minimal. They agree on defence, the EU, migration and economic growth. While the First Past the Post electoral system will probably enable Labour or the Tories to form a government with some combination of the smaller parties, it may very well happen if the SNP continue to make irresponsible public spending demands on a potential miniority Labour administration with a significantly weakened Liberal Democrat presence, or if global economic meltdown (which would adversely the UK more than most countries) forces the government to make some very unpopular decisions.

Ungreen Greens

On the environment, energy and defence, I'd instinctively vote Green. However, short of a world-wide revolution, their 2015 manifesto is not remotely viable. A Green government would simply be powerless to regulate or tax UK-based global corporations much more without effectively biting the hand that feeds them. How could they hope to increase spending on social welfare, health and affordable housing if big businesses simply move their operations abroad significantly reducing their tax base. The Green manifesto is little more than a politically correct wish list. I certainly agree with the Greens on scrapping Trident, banning hydraulic fracturing and phasing out nuclear power, renationalising railways, limiting car usage in busy urban areas and investing more in public transport. I welcome investment in renewable energy and remote working to cut unnecessary travel, but fear without changing our growth-obsessed economic model little will change and wind turbines, solar panels and wave power will fail to allow the continuation of business as usual. All other Green policies, on welfare, migration, taxation, healthcare or education, are based on the assumption of continued economic prosperity enabling us to import the required resources. In ideal world we would not need any immigration controls as a rebalanced world economy would not offer any significant economic motivation for emigration. There would just be a limited and balanced exchange of professionals, academics and tourists. However, in a grotesquely unequal world mass migration is both a symptom and a cause of much socio-economic instability that tends to favour big business much more than ordinary workers. Unlike PC Greens, I'm quite happy to make sacrifices to give my grandchildren a more sustainable future. I want better and fairer healthcare, not more money squandered on mass medication and bureaucracy. I want fairer taxation, but do not want to fund a bloated welfare state on the proceeds of greedy corporations. Indeed I want to tightly regulate big business and promote small local businesses to enable more people to play an active role shaping our technological future. I do not want more retail growth, but would rather pay more for many commodities to ensure fair wages, reduce waste and lengthen the operational lifetime of most goods. None of this can happen while we need to milk banks and global corporations to subsidise welfare dependence while requiring us to import goods from low-wage economies. More important, it will very hard to tackle any of our environmental problems unless we address another consequence of the UK's unsustainable economic growth, namely unsustainable migration-driven population growth. The Greens repeat the oft-recycled claim that immigration drives economic growth, but fail to question whether we need the kind of import-led retail expansion that a greater population in a small country inevitably causes.

Unsustainable economic policies are not only bad for the environment, but also adversely affect the most vulnerable members of society. Let us consider the likely real world consequences of the Green's current manifesto commitments. On the one hand they would impose higher tax on billionaires and large corporations, regulate big business, cut military spending and ban hazardous high-risk energy extraction and generation techniques. Such policies would shrink the economy, which is all well and good, if like me you are more concerned with long-term stability than short-term growth. However, shrinking the economy would require us to cut welfare spending and without strict import controls a downsized would see unemployment soar. Only by relocalising the many industries and services we have outsourced can we achieve full employment, while effectively deflating our economy to a level that we can sustain in the long run.

If the Greens had their way, large corporations would inevitably just transfer their activities to countries with lower taxes, fewer regulations and lower salaries. As a result millions of workers would be jobless at a time when the government would be less able to pay their welfare bill. More important bankers would be less willing to lend money to governments intent on limiting consumer demand and with it corporate profits.

We need to transition away from our reliance on cheap finite fossil fuels and an energy-intensive global economic system towards a more sustainable and regionally localised system. Likewise, if the UK were only concerned with national defence, rather than meddling in other countries' affairs or serving US foreign policy objectives, we could significantly rationalise military spending in line with Japan, Germany, Spain or Italy. Currently, the UK still has the world's fifth highest defence budget (after Saudi Arabia). Yet, we cannot cut energy consumption or scrap the US-controlled Trident nuclear missile system, unless we change our over-reliance on global trade and absurd obsession with economic growth at all costs. The only way a largely service-based economy can grow is to import more resources from the rest of the world. When retail sales fall, growth-obsessed economists start to worry. Services in the form of restaurants, supermarkets, hospitals, marketing offices or social work departments consume resources, largely for transport, building maintenance, equipment and catering. The more we consume, the more rubbish we generate. The more we obsess with hygiene, the more effluent we dump in our sewers. All aspects of our post-modern lives from healthcare to holidays, commuting to grocery shopping consume resources. Life has become almost inconceivable without washing machines, power showers, electric cookers, hairdryers, fast transportation and multimedia communication, all of which rely on elaborate infrastructure and cheap energy.

The Greens are unlikely to gain more than 2 to 3 seats (and may well lose their only seat Brighton), but they may just sway the balance of power in some strategic issues, especially if future electoral reform affords small parties more seats. However, given the key importance of economic growth to vested commercial interests, who also happen to control most of the media, very few of the Green's environmental policies will see the light of day, except perhaps some token cycle lanes in congested urban areas. They may just win local referendums on hydraulic fracturing or new nuclear power plants, but one the corporate media explain without such new sources of energy people may have to forgo the convenience of cheap motoring, air travel and affordable winter heating, the Greens may not win over the general public. However, they may sway votes on other contentious issues on immigration, welfare reform and the European Union, where ironically they may be on the same side as big business.

Coalition Record

Five years on, big business seems very much still in control. The same social trends that started under Thatcher and were rebranded under Labour have continued unabated under the Cameron/Clegg partnership. Fewer young adults can afford a house, the rich/poor gap continues to widen, the country's debt keeps rising and its population is rising at the fastest rate since the end of WW2, largely through unsustainable migratory flows. Despite initial scepticism, the government has not lost its appetite for meddling in other countries' affairs with disastrous military interventions in Libya, Syria and Iraq. Yet if we believe the raw numbers, the economy keeps growing. The Tories can blame the LibDems for their failure to bring down net migration, while the LibDems can blame the Tories for their failure to tackle inequality. Whenever anything goes wrong, the government of the day can simply blame either their predecessors or their coalition partners.

After 13 years of New Labour rule and mounting public and private debt following the 2008 financial meltdown, many greeted the new common sense Coalition with a sigh of relief. Maybe they would not commit British armed forces to foreign military intervention we ill-understand. Maybe they would deal with long-term worklessness and enable young people to learn valuable practical skills. Maybe they would regulate big corporations rather than private citizens. However, beyond the rhetoric we were only dreaming. The so-called ConDem coalition brought us more of the same NewLabourite policies. Even their cuts in public sector spending were moderate compared to much tougher reductions in other European countries like Italy, Spain, Portugal or Greece, all with comparable national debts, but much lower household debts. Despite all the empty talk of fiscal responsibility, the government continued with the previous administration's quantitive easing (QE) and reliance on property speculation and service sector for economic growth.

On the ground Labour have lost much of their traditional working class base to the SNP in Scotland and to UKIP in provincial England. Their core vote is now wishful thinking Guardian Readers, ethnic minorities and welfare dependents. However, as Tower Hamlets and Bradford West show, Labour's rainbow coalition is unlikely to withstand the rise of identity politics in Britain's disparate communities.

Shifting Alliances

Many observers wrongly assume big business simply wants to ally UK PLC with the USA and NATO. The global balance of power is shifting fast away from North America and Western Europe to China, India, Russia and Brazil. China is now the world's industrial superpower, while India's economy will soon overtake the UK. Both will need resources available in Russia, South America and Africa. Big business has always wanted one thing above all, to expand markets and maximise profits for its share-holders. It will forge alliances with any national or regional state organisation likely to further these aims. It sees the European Union as a microcosm of a future borderless New World Order. If the EU expands potentially to Turkey and Western Ukraine, it will lose its original Eurocentrism and encompass a far wider range of cultures and income levels, which will inevitably transform the welfare state from an essential component of socially cohesive society to a mere enabler of greater labour mobility and faster rates of cultural change.

In the evolving world of the early 21st century, large corporations can no longer afford to place all their eggs in one basket and will push regional trading blocks and military alliances to merge and cooperate. Thus the likes of City of London, BP, Shell, Monsanto, Walmart, Sinopec (China), Volkswagen Group, Samsung, Gazprom (Russia) and even Apple and Microsoft ( see full list ) are actually much keener on facilitating global trade than on siding with the US against Russia or China. That's why the LibDems have already indicated they want a cheaper alternative to Trident, but are very keen on the new European Defence Force (to deploy against rebels denying corporate access to key resources).

Reading between the lines

You might think the Greens care most about the environment, the SNP and Plaid Cymru care most about Scotland and Wales and UKIP care most about autonomy from the European Union, but you may soon be very disappointed for none can win the coming general election. Whoever wins, the same corporate forces will be working behind the scenes to ensure big-business-friendly outcomes in a dynamic globalised economy. Listen carefully and consider what policy decisions these small political lobbies may change one way or another. To Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP and Leanne Wood of Plaid Cymru, continued membership of the European Union seems much more important than the nominal independence of their countries. They have openly stated that any future referendum on the UK's membership of the EU must have the consent of a majority of Welsh and Scots too. The Greens see the EU as a vehicle for cultural and environmental change and imagine joining forces with green movements across Europe to challenge corporate power. All three left-of-centre parties welcome increased immigration and deplore calls for stricter controls to restore greater migratory balance. In short, rather than offer a viable alternative to Labour, the three smaller notionally left-leaning parties present a more radically universalist vision at odds with the conservative views of their electorates. They pander to low-income and welfare-dependent voters through vain promises to oppose all cuts, raise the minimum wage or spend more on healthcare, while expecting someone else, whether taxpayers in other parts of the UK or transnational corporations, to fund their social engineering projects. If you believe the SNP, we can save a bundle by scrapping Trident, approx. 3-4 billion year if we take Greenpeace's estimate of 97 billion over the missile system's 30 year lifespan. With a growing population, the UK will need to invest heavily in healthcare, education, new housing and transport infrastructure, while its armed forces are likely to join ranks with NATO and the new European Defence Agency. As a result, a future Labour/LibDem government may well opt for a much cheaper nuclear deterrent or to scrap Trident altogether. Even voices within the Ministry of Defence oppose Trident renewal. The former head of the armed forces, Field Marshal Lord Bramall, the retired Army generals Lord Ramsbotham and Sir Hugh Beach, and Major General Patrick Cordingley signed a letter to The Times that stated:

“Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face, particularly international terrorism. Our independent deterrent has become irrelevant, except in the context of domestic politics.â€

However, scrapping Trident will be a pyrrhic victory if the British Isles remains integrated in a military alliance with the United States and EU in future conflicts such as a potential standoff with Russia over Eastern Ukraine. We could soon see some rapidly shifting alliances as the mainstream Western media up their rhetoric against Russia to swing public opinion in favour of rapid rearmament.

As the debt crisis mounts worldwide, we can soon expect another banking meltdown. This will provide a coalition government with an excellent excuse to scale back some of their spending plans. The NHS may simply become unaffordable. I suspect only a rhetorically leftwing coalition could privatise it, possibly by signing an international treaty for Global Health Insurance system. Expect the rich-poor gap to continue to grow and for larger and larger pockets of the Third World to take root in Western Europe. With the rise of the SNP and Anglo-centric UKIP, the UK will soon become little more than anachronism. A potential left-of-centre LibLabSNP pact may well be short-lived as a precursor to a divided Kingdom integrated with an enlarged EU / NAFTA trading block.

Verdict: The Business Party will win and the electorate will once again be bitterly disappointed as world events eclipse parochial UK politics.

Categories
All in the Mind Computing

The Nice Party Manifesto

As an environmentally friendly, safety-aware, anti-racist, disability-positive, anti- homophobia, feminist, pro-growth, pro-children, pro-happiness party, we oppose all nasty policies that may harm other human beings.

Global minimum salary:

If elected the UK Nice Party will provide everyone in the world with access to an online bank account and transfer 1 bitcoin ( £150) a day to ensure a min. global living standard. Any work will be optional.

Pollution outsourced to Mars:

All industrial activities will move to the Moon and Mars. All resource extraction, manufacturing and shipping processes will be fully automated.

Imagine there were no countries:

We will abolish all border controls and provide free public transport for anyone wishing to move from one region to another.

Free Fertility Treatment:

We will encourage people to have as many children as they like and provide free fertility services for all those unable to conceive naturally.

A Luxury Villa for everyone:

Our automated builders will provide luxury eco-friendly villas for anyone with long or short-term accommodation needs.

Electric Cars for all:

All global citizens over the age of 18 months will be entitled to their own eco- friendly driverless electric car. These cars will automatically recharge to overcome rage anxiety.

Food for all:

We will build gigantic greenhouse satellites to grow practically unlimited supplies of sumptuously juicy health food to meet all tastes.

Sex for all:

We will provide all sexually repressed human beings with free humanoid sex dolls to suit all possible erotic preferences.

Free Gender Surgery and Body Transplants

Anyone dissatisfied with their current gender or body shape will be entitled to free gender realignment surgery or potentially a full body transplant.

No more accidents

We will repeal Isaac Newton's outdated and frankly misanthropic Law of Gravity and replace it a kinder Law of Floating Attraction. Everyone will thus be able to fly, float or walk as they please. Cliff-jumping, sky-diving and skateboarding will be safe leisure pursuits and pigs will be able to fly.

No more sadness

We will add Soma to the water supply to banish all residual forms of sadness or stray critical thoughts.

Caveat

A combined software and hardware upgrade is required to implement the above policies. We will migrate all physical human beings currently on planet earth to cloud servers interfacing with massively multiplayer virtual reality simulation software.

Categories
All in the Mind

Why do people get depressed?

With so much media attention, you'd seriously think depression awareness raising charities would want to answer this very simple question. As the purported biological disease model of depression has now become almost an act of faith, debate now seems to revolve mainly around the relative merits of different forms of treatment. Whether it's medication or intensive psychotherapy, any talk of treatment implies a medical condition comparable with cancer, Alzheimers or broken limbs.

Affluenza

By now it should be clear that higher material living standards do not necessarily lead to healthier or more balanced emotions. We possess more powerful, versatile and efficient electronic gadgets, more cars and can afford more holidays abroad than ever before. Yet this material abundance does not translate into greater happiness. The infamous Germanwings copilot, Andreas Lubitz, had a wealthy family who could afford to pay for expensive flying lessons. By any accounts he enjoyed a privileged jetsetting lifestyle and, if reports are correct, was not averse to performance-boosting and mood-altering medication. Countless multimillionaire celebrities have publicised their depressive episodes. Indeed depression seems largely a concern in opulent consumer cultures and the very concept of melancholy is practically unknown to pre-agrarian societies such as the Amazonian Pirar√£ people.

Human Emotions

Human emotions are certainly complex, but why would we have evolved to have clearly distressing and dysfunctional mood swings that make it hard for us to address any of the more immediate problems in our life? If your house is on fire along with all your worldly possessions, what should you do? Contemplate the market value of your endangered possessions? Spend the next 60 minutes negotiating with your home insurance company? Laze around watching Youtube videos about how to rebuild your life after a catastrophe? Actually none of the above, the most rational course of action would be to quickly find the safest way out of the building and if possible help anyone else at home to join you. If you fail to act fast in such situations, you may very well die and be forever unable to help anyone else dear to you. Ironically the kind of emotions people experience in the face of death differ markedly from the self-centred feelings of inferiority and introspection that prevail in melancholy. When faced with a life-threatening crisis, all considerations about your relative social standing, your body image, your love life or lack thereof or your financial woes fade into insignificance. If you are penniless, homeless and starving, the relative merits of the latest and greatest gadgets or the number of social media friends you may have, are of little concern, but you will be probably be very glad to have a square meal and a roof over your head.

Most of all people strive for two things in life: A sense of purpose and affection, i.e. we need to have clear idea of what we aim to achieve in life and to feel wanted or rather emotionally rewarded for our efforts. In the simple pre-agrarian societies that prevailed in most of humanity's two hundred thousand year odd history, our sense of purpose was the survival of ourselves and our immediate community while our sense of love came from the close bonds we had with our community. As long as we did our bit to help in the collective struggle for survival, we would be rewarded with love and affection. As many died young from diseases and injuries that can now be easily treated, the mere fact of survival gave us cause for optimism and gratitude to mother nature and our community. Diverse cultures throughout the world value health more than material possessions.

The lottery of life has always been tough. It is clearly unfair that some of us are blessed with better, stronger or more appealing physiques than others and are thus better equipped to attract the best mating partners. However, humanity would never have evolved to its current level of technological excellence if we had not been able to harness different skill-sets. Carrying heavy building materials undoubtedly requires much muscle-power, but several thousand years ago someone took a break from the tiring task of lugging stones and logs around to devise a new more efficient technique for transporting heaving goods. At first heavy slabs of stones were rolled on logs and later logs were cut into wheels on rudimentary carts. We still needed muscle-power to load and unload carts, but mechanical engineers and craftsmen had enabled us to carry more with less effort. Even primitive societies began to value brains as well as brawn, wisdom and experience as well as youthful energy. That explains why many primitive societies cherish their elders, although they may no longer be able to help hands-on with hunting, building and food preparation, their experience and wisdom is invaluable especially in small close-knit communities.

As societies became more and more complex with greater levels of specialisation, trade and competition, more people failed to lead productive lives as their potential skills had been outsourced or devalued by techno-economic progress. Greater opportunities for some always mean fewer opportunities for others. Current socio-economic trends clearly favour flexible and highly mobile labour markets with a rapid turnaround in human resources and skill-sets. These far-reaching changes affect every aspect of our lives from job security to intimate relationships. In our brave new world, the only certainty is perpetual uncertainty, which in turn makes more and more of us dependent on remote organisations just to stay afloat.

Drugs and Psychiatry

While I do not rule out that some genuine neurological conditions may make some of us more susceptible to melancholic thoughts, the primary cause of depression in modern society is a sense of helplessness, i.e. an inability to help oneself overcome a temporary setback, exacerbated by the breakdown of traditional extended family and community networks. Any purported treatment plan that fails to identify the root causes of so much emotional distress is doomed to failure as in any other cases of misdiagnosis. If you have a broken leg, pain killers may help you temporarily cope with unpleasant sensations, but may have long-term side-effects if taken for prolonged periods of time without addressing the root causes of your suffering. Likewise, no rational dentist would treat tooth decay with ibuprofen alone. In an ideal world we would avoid breaking limbs or exposing our teeth to decay, both of which depend on external or environmental factors. However, at least caries and bone fractures are easily identifiable medical conditions. Depression, on the other hand, is a state of mind induced in an incredibly complex organ with an estimated 100 billion neurons.

The over-prescription of anti-depressants is merely a symptom of a more fundamental problem, a shift away from the psycho-social model of emotional distress to a strictly biological model of mental health patients. The former model recognises biological differences that may make some of us more susceptible to mood swings (not least of which is gender), but rather than concentrating on natural phenomena we cannot easily change, it focuses on how the rest of society can help these people become more productive citizens able to help themselves and feel wanted by helping others. The latter approach, currently in vogue, treats individuals as psychiatric subjects and psycho-social stimuli as mere external triggers of underlying conditions. This turns the depressed into victim groups who require more treatment, and thus greater dependence on others, both of which are very likely to exacerbate their sense of helplessness and under-achievement. If a condition is considered a life-long illness caused by an underlying neurological syndrome, then there is much stronger case for lifelong medication.

Many claim that anti-depressants helped them out of the depths of misery or that they would be unable to function without them. Both claims dodge the more important issues of causation. First if you are on psychoactive medication, you cannot easily just go cold turkey without suffering severe withdrawal symptoms, because your brain has already adjusted to your regular chemical stimuli. Second, there is much stronger case for mild anti-depressants for short-term use if the underlying psycho-social causes are addressed, but in these cases we cannot easily identify whether Selective Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors such as Prozac are more effective than placebos or natural remedies such as St John's Wort. The evidence would suggest outcomes are much better for those with better emotional support from friends and family and more rewarding careers who only need temporary treatment. Unfortunately that leaves millions of marginalised individuals who struggle to realise their self-worth through meaningful work (sense of purpose) or relationships (sense of belonging).

Categories
All in the Mind Power Dynamics

Question Time on Rise of UKIP

How would members of the panel deal with the rise in UKIP support among working class whites?

Dame Penelope Guardian Reader

This may surprise you, but on my mother's side I'm of White English working class extraction myself and have some friends and relatives who still live in white working class communities. A great aunt of mine stills reads the obnoxious Daily Mail and has indeed occasionally raised uninformed concerns about the scale and speed of inward migration to our wonderfully progressive and welcoming island. Like many people in her age group she's prone to mild forms of xenophobia, which can be a very debilitating condition if left untreated.

Recent research by the University of Northwest Tescotown, has shown the same kind of recalcitrant thinking that leads some people of Middle-Eastern descent to sympathise with ISIS may trigger reactionary anti-immigration thoughts in those of white Northwest European descent. In the Enlightened Guardian Readers' Party we believe xenophobia sufferers deserve all the help we can give them. That's why my party is committed to not only increasing spending on mental health, but allocating 20% of the mental health budget to combat the kind of unenlightened thinking that leads people to vote UKIP or join ISIS in the first place. I've heard of a range of therapeutic treatments, including a new generation of Selective Critical Thought Inhibitors and intensive Equality and Diversity Training sessions.

Terry Trendy of UK Uncut
We believe the spread of evil racist views among some sections of our wonderfully diverse community is a direct result of the government's shameful cuts in social welfare and mental health services. We clearly have a massive shortage of qualified and trained multicultural awareness therapists in this country and should relax our absurdly strict immigration controls so we can bring in the right professionals to tackle this endemic disease before it's too late.
Polly Pontificator of Spiked Online
I really don't think we have anything to worry about. The previous two speakers clearly overstate the problem. UKIP support is highest among older indigenous White Anglo-Saxon protestants and is not spreading to the new ethnically diverse and internationally minded younger generations. As long as this dying breed of old-timers is kept amused through repeats of 1970s comedy shows, plenty of booze, bingo and Mediterranean cruises, UKIP will remain a minority sport.
Aaron Aardvark of the Green Monster Raving Loony Party
UKIP supporters are just a bunch of primeval climate-change-denying Jeremy CLarkson fans. We would simply withdraw their driving licences until they pass a mandatory Diversity and Environmental Responsibility Awareness Training test.