Morning Call: pick of the papers

The ten must-read comment pieces from this morning's papers.

1. Osborne should not be complacent (Financial Times)

The decision to tighten fiscal policy was a spectacular own goal even if the IMF does not dare to say so, writes Martin Wolf.

2. The Muslim faith does not turn men to terror (Daily Telegraph)

The two suspects in the Woolwich killing were violating the doctrine of their own holy book, says Mehdi Hasan.

3. Tories should not be prisoners of tradition (Times)

Tom Paine is hardly an icon of conservatism, but he has important lessons about marriage for David Cameron, writes Philip Collins.

4. Woolwich was a case study in the banality - and the idiocy - of evil (Daily Telegraph)

We shouldn’t bother looking for any logic in attacks like these, writes Fraser Nelson. There is none to be found.

5. This echo chamber of mass hysteria only aids terrorists (Guardian)

Perpetrators of violent acts of terror thrive on publicity – so politicians and the media need to stop giving it to them, writes Simon Jenkins.

6. For the best results, keep executive pay down (Times)

The bosses of the NHS and G4S earned so much that they had no fear of failure, says Ross Clark.

7. Why the right could doom welfare reform (Daily Telegraph)

Disability testing isn’t working as it should – and Conservatives must have the courage to admit it, says Isabel Hardman. 

8. George Osborne puts his pride before the national interest (Guardian)

An economically literate chancellor would rise to the challenge set down by the IMF, writes Ed Balls.

9. The long recession has one silver lining; EU leaders are finally tackling 'tax shopping' head on (Independent)

Cyprus was widely criticised for offering a haven for the money of Russian oligarchs, but the rest of Europe is littered with similarly cosy nooks, writes Peter Popham.

10. Jeremy Hunt's blundering blaming of GPs makes for bad politics (Guardian)

The health secretary is taking a risk in gunning for family doctors, says Polly Toynbee. The public trust them more than they do those in government.

Show Hide image

Anxiety is not cool, funny or fashionable

A charitable initative to encourage sufferers to knit a Christmas jumper signalling their condition is well-intentioned but way off the mark.

The other night, I had one of those teeth-falling-out dreams. I dreamt I was on a bus, and every time it stopped one of my teeth plunked effortlessly out of my skull. “Shit,” I said to myself, in the dream, “this is like one of those teeth-falling out dreams”. Because – without getting too Inception – even in its midst, I realised this style of anxiety dream is a huge cliché.

Were my subconscious a little more creative, maybe it would’ve concocted a situation where I was on a bus (sure, bus, why not?), feeling anxious (because I nearly always feel anxious) and I’m wearing a jumper with the word “ANXIOUS” scrawled across my tits, so I can no longer hyperventilate – in private — about having made a bad impression with the woman who just served me in Tesco. What if, in this jumper, those same men who tell women to “smile, love” start telling me to relax. What if I have to start explaining panic attacks, mid-panic attack? Thanks to mental health charity Anxiety UK, this more original take on the classic teeth-falling-out dream could become a reality. Last week, they introduced an awareness-raising Christmas “anxiety” jumper.

It’s difficult to slate anyone for doing something as objectively important as tackling the stigma around mental health problems. Then again, right now, I’m struggling to think of anything more anxiety-inducing than wearing any item of clothing that advertises my anxiety. Although I’m fully prepared to accept that I’m just not badass enough to wear such a thing. As someone whose personal style is “background lesbian”, the only words I want anywhere near my chest are “north” and “face”.  

It should probably be acknowledged that the anxiety jumper isn’t actually being sold ready to wear, but as a knitting pattern. The idea being that you make your own anxiety jumper, in whichever colours you find least/most stressful. I’m not going to go on about feeling “excluded” – as a non-knitter – from this campaign. At the same time, the “anxiety jumper” demographic is almost definitely twee middle class millennials who can/will knit.

Photo: Anxiety UK

Unintentionally, I’m sure, a jumper embellished with the word “anxious” touts an utterly debilitating condition as a trend. Much like, actually, the “anxiety club” jumper that was unanimously deemed awful earlier this year. Granted, the original anxiety jumper — we now live in a world with at least two anxiety jumpers — wasn’t charitable or ostensibly well intentioned. It had a rainbow on it. Which was either an astute, ironic comment on how un-rainbow-like  anxiety is or, more likely, a poorly judged non sequitur farted into existence by a bored designer. Maybe the same one who thought up the Urban Outfitters “depression” t-shirt of 2014.

From Zayn Malik to Oprah Winfrey, a growing number of celebrities are opening up about what may seem, to someone who has never struggled with anxiety, like the trendiest disorder of the decade. Anxiety, of course, isn’t trendy; it’s just incredibly common. As someone constantly reassured by the fact that, yes, millions of other people have (real life) panic meltdowns on public transport, I could hardly argue that we shouldn’t be discussing our personal experiences of anxiety. But you have to ask whether anyone would be comfortable wearing a jumper that said “schizophrenic” or “bulimic”. Anxiety, it has to be said, has a tendency – as one of the more “socially acceptable” mental illnesses — to steal the limelight.

But I hope we carry on talking anxiety. I’m not sure Movember actually gets us talking about prostates, but it puts them out there at least. If Christmas jumpers can do the same for the range of mental health issues under the “anxiety” umbrella, then move over, Rudolph.

Eleanor Margolis is a freelance journalist, whose "Lez Miserable" column appears weekly on the New Statesman website.