Andy McSmith's Diary: An MP revealing his depression? It hardly seems like news any more

 

Slowly, the stigma of mental illness is falling away. Lunacy, as it was then called, used to rank alongside imprisonment and bankruptcy as automatic grounds for disqualifying an MP from remaining in the Commons.

The Lunacy Act was invoked to remove an MP in 1916. One post-war member who had a breakdown took the precaution of getting a signed affidavit from his psychiatrist saying that he was cured before returning to Parliament. Afterwards, he would boast that he was the only MP who could prove he was sane.

In the USA, during the 1972 election, the Democratic candidate for the vice-presidency, Senator Thomas Eagleton, was revealed to have been treated for depression several years earlier. He was dropped from the Democratic ticket soon after.

Today, John Woodcock, the Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, was a visible presence around the House of Commons, receiving the good wishes of almost everyone who stopped to speak to him. The reason that he drew so much goodwill was that he had posted a blog that morning which declared: “My latest ailment shouldn’t be treated any differently from physical injuries. I am just going to come right out and say that I am clinically depressed. I went to see a doctor this week who prescribed me medication.”

That disclosure follows a remarkable debate on mental health in the Commons last year, during the course of which the Labour MP Kevan Jones spoke publicly for the first time about a bout of deep depression he had suffered 17 years earlier, and the Tory MP Charles Walker, who has obsessive compulsive disorder, came out with the startling statement: “I have been a practising fruitcake for 31 years.”

Mr Woodcock said that by the end of the day he was “overwhelmed” by the kind comments of others.

Mind the gap

The Sun’s second-day coverage of Tom Daley’s decision to come out focused on the man in his life, Dustin Lance Black, who, the paper noted, is “20 years older”. You can see why The Sun might think that a problem, when you recall the recent case of an ageing media mogul marrying a woman 37 years younger than him, which did not work out so well.

From the jaws of defeat...

It takes a politician’s skill to find the words that make a serious setback sound like victory.

In January, the executive of the Thirsk and Malton Conservative Association voted not to adopt the sitting MP, Anne McIntosh, as their candidate for 2015.

It was up to her to decide what to do next, but months went by with nothing happening, until the Conservative Party’s national board ruled that her future will be decided by a ballot of local party members.

She then issued a press release proudly proclaiming that she had been “invited to put her name forward as Conservative candidate”.

That only made the president of the local association, James Holt, a farmer from Hutton-le-Hole, even more cross than he already was. He is quoted in the Northern Echo calling her statement a “travesty of the facts”.

She responded: “My statement is factually correct according to the rules. Of course I have my detractors: don’t we all?”

Bad sex, but worse ignorance

The most shocking thing about Tuesday night’s Bad Sex Award ceremony in Westminster was not the explicit words and racy descriptions read out deadpan by the actors, nor the failure of the winner, Manil Suri, to be there in person to receive his trophy: it was that the night’s compère, Alec Waugh, did not know who Woody Guthrie was.

That is like meeting an educated American who does not know that Waugh’s grandfather wrote satire.

Guthrie may have written a bad sex passage in a forgotten novel, but he also wrote a lovely lyrical tribute to the actress, Ingrid Bergman – “This old mountain it’s been waiting all its life for you to work it, for your hand to touch the hard rock, Ingrid Bergman.”

News
Fatale attraction: Brigitte Bardot in her youth
people Biographer says cinema’s enduring sex symbol led a secret troubled life
News
newsGlobal index has ranked the quality of life for OAPs - but the UK didn't even make it into the top 10
News
people

Kirstie Allsopp has waded into the female fertility debate again

News
In 2006, Pluto was reclassified as a 'dwarf planet'
scienceBut will it be reinstated?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
Researchers say a diet of fatty foods could impede smell abilities
scienceMeasuring the sense may predict a person's lifespan
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
News
Gillian Anderson was paid less than her male co-star David Duchovny for three years while she was in the The X-Files until she protested and was given the same salary
people

Gillian Anderson lays into gender disparity in Hollywood

Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsA Welsh town has changed its name - and a prize if you can notice how
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission, 1st yr OTE £30-£40k : SThree:...

Middleware Support Analyst

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Senior Java Developer/Designer

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: My client are looking fo...

Domino Developer and Administrator

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Domino ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?