Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
28 March 2018updated 09 Jun 2021 8:13am

PMQs review: Jeremy Corbyn challenges the Tories’ mental health record: “The money never followed”

The Labour leader warned that physical and mental health were still unequally funded. 

By George Eaton

Today’s PMQs appeared surreally sealed off from the outside world. The two subjects that are dominating conversation at Westminster – the John Worboys ruling and Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism – went almost unmentioned (save for questions from Zac Goldsmith and Peter Bottomley).

But Jeremy Corbyn, to his credit, led on an important and frequently overlooked issue: mental health services. He cited the sobering statistic that “male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 – with 84 men taking their lives every week”, and noted that while children and young people represent 20 per cent of the population, just six per cent of the mental health budget is spent on them.

Though Theresa May pointed to the government introducing “parity of esteem” between physical and mental health, she had no adequate answer to Corbyn’s charge that “the money never followed”. There were, the Labour leader noted, 5,000 fewer mental health nurses than before the Conservatives entered power and spending fell by £250m from 2010-15.

May referenced the anti-Semitism scandal by implication when she complained of the “bullying and harassment” young people endure on social media, but did not develop this into a wider attack on Corbyn.

The SNP, meanwhile, interrogated May over the allegations that Vote Leave broke electoral law. May retorted that the Electoral Commission had twice before investigated claims of overspending (finding in Leave’s favour). But unlike Boris Johnson, she did not dismiss the allegations as “utterly ludicrous”. “If there are allegations of criminal activity that should be taken to the police,” May said even as her tone suggested she believes no wrongdoing occured.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy