On mental health, EU citizens’ rights and counter-extremism, there is an opportunity for student campaigners to make a real difference
The Queen’s speech was a dream come true for no one – except perhaps foxes, who will be relieved that there was no further mention of hunting. But for students, it was a mixed bag.
The speech was light on detail and heavy on Brexit. For the 84% of voting students who were opposed to leaving the EU, the future it outlined is exactly what we didn’t want. But there were silver linings: the announcement of plans to abolish letting agent fees and to bring forward legislation protecting victims of domestic violence, for instance. There are also plans to tackle the gender pay gap.
Related: NUS president Malia Bouattia: ‘Political activists are being demonised’
Related: Three steps to building a successful student campaign
Party’s manifesto plans will change in wake of election, with possible shifts in stance on Brexit, grammar schools and social care
The first Queen’s speech of the new parliament will be nothing like as ambitious as Theresa May had hoped, given the Conservative party’s lack of an overall majority and the need to rely on the Democratic Unionist party of Northern Ireland to pass legislation. Only a handful of key policies are likely to survive:
Related: Tom Watson asks May: did Murdoch request Gove’s return to cabinet?
Related: Q&A: how will the UK election result affect Brexit talks?
Related: Can party politics be set aside to save social care? | Paul Burstow
The Tories betray wilful ignorance in refusing to acknowledge that some adults need support all their lives – asking them to pay care costs is wrong
Much has been said about the Conservative manifesto pledges on social care and Theresa May’s subsequent U-turn, but one issue that has so far escaped scrutiny is the Tories’ strange assumption that social care is all about older people. This is despite the fact that around a third of those who need social care services are of working age [pdf].
Social care affects all adults who need support because of a disability or long-term health condition. This might include a learning disability, a physical disability or severe and enduring mental ill-health. The failure of the Conservative manifesto to acknowledge any of this gives the impression of a party that is wilfully ignorant of the nature of adult social care and its beneficiaries.
Related: The ‘dementia tax’ mess shows how little May thinks of disabled people | Frances Ryan
Related: Forget money – we need to rethink what social care should look like
Guardian experts give their view on the main parties’ public service manifesto pledges. Here, our health editor looks at what’s in store for the NHS
• David Brindle on social care
• Patrick Butler on social security
• Dawn Foster on housing
• Frances Ryan on disability
• Anna Bawden on local government
• Alan Travis on home affairs
• Jane Dudman on the civil service
• Damian Carrington on the environment
• Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
The NHS in England would receive “the resources it needs – a minimum of £8bn in real terms over the next five years, delivering an increase in real funding per head of the population for every year of the parliament”. A further £10bn is pledged in capital spending. It would ensure that the NHS and social care system had all the health professionals “it needs” and it would train more homegrown medics. Backing the NHS’s Five Year Forward View and local sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) would lead to the controversial rundown of A&E and maternity units and changes to the roles of many hospitals. Any “necessary legislative changes” would be made to finally give STPs legal status. In addition, it would “review the operation of the internal market and make non-legislative changes to remove barriers to the integration of care”. GPs would provide seven-day access everywhere by 2019.
PM confronted by nurse over issue of low pay in Question Time special, while Jeremy Corbyn is questioned over Trident and national security
Theresa May came under sustained pressure over the Conservative party’s record on public sector pay, mental health services and social care in a combative election edition of BBC1’s Question Time broadcast less than a week before polling day.
The prime minister faced a string of awkward questions from members of the public, including a challenge from a nurse, Victoria Davey, who left May faltering after confronting her over the 1% pay increase received by NHS staff.
Related: Question Time leaders’ special: May under fire over NHS and education – live
Related: The Guardian view on the election: it’s Labour
Related: Question Time leaders’ special: panel verdict
Older people deserve respect and relief from the pressures and fears of declining physical and mental powers, say our readers
I have great respect for Simon Jenkins – he often cuts through the codswallop that often poses as journalism today. Unfortunately, he falls into the trap of Conservative thinking on social care (We all want to live longer, but someone must pay, 1 June). It does seem reasonable that those who have built up assets in their lifetimes should fund their own social care in old age, but this misses the whole point of a progressive system of taxation. Illness, frailty, misfortune can happen to anyone, rich or poor. It’s true the better off tend to live longer, with better health, but that does not mean that individuals cannot be struck down with early-onset dementia, or another devastating condition. Why should those families suffer more than other families whose progenitors were fortunate enough to enjoy perfect health? Progressive taxation, either on wealth or on income, spreads the risk and ensures that the rich and not-quite-so-rich pay their fair share towards the collective health of the nation. An inheritance tax too, properly graduated, should be part of the taxation mix, funding excellent state care for wealthy and poor alike, whatever their individual circumstances.
• Simon Jenkins is right, someone has to pay. But the need for care is a lottery and it falls unfairly on the 10% of those families whose relatives develop dementia, sometimes before they are even considered old. My relative developed Lewy body dementia at the age of 58. If he’d had cancer, he would have been cared for, but his family had to contribute to his nursing home care – after 12 years of his wife providing 24-hour care for free, with a devastating effect on her own life and freedom. Jenkins’s reference to past family situations belies the fact that women were the carers and they are now expected to work outside the home. The amount needed to provide care nationally is not so great in a rich country that we can’t all contribute to care for the sick and vulnerable, whatever their family wealth, just as we do for sick children.
Letters from Phyl Meyer of the access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland), Michelle Mitchell of the MS Society, Ted Hill of the British Polio Fellowship, Clare Pelham of the Epilepsy Society and others
The article by Frances Ryan (24 May) regarding the lack of support for disabled candidates seeking election raises an important issue that the next UK government must address. Missing from the article was reference to the situation in Scotland, where the Scottish government has funded the creation of the Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland). The Scottish fund recently supported 39 disabled candidates in the local authority elections, of whom 15 were elected. Unfortunately the terms of the Scotland Act 1998 prevent the Scottish government from funding a project which covers the UK general elections as these are fully reserved to Westminster, so we are unable to assist disabled candidates who have come forward in this election. If we are ever to achieve fair representation for all sections of society, the general election this month must be the last one ever to systematically exclude disabled people from equal opportunity to serve in elected office. The only way this can be achieved is reinstatement of the UK fund (allowing the Scottish fund to cover UK elections in Scotland), and the introduction of job-sharing for elected office roles (which will also open up elected office to more people with childcare responsibilities, among others).
Project manager, Access to Elected Office Fund (Scotland)
• Tomorrow the Disability Benefits Consortium will be delivering a resolute plea to party leaders, urging them to protect disability benefits from further cuts in the next parliament. More than 16,500 people have backed this call in an open letter being delivered to party leaders tomorrow. As a coalition of 80 charities and organisations, we are seeing every day how years of damaging welfare reform are having a devastating impact. Across the country, thousands of disabled people are currently struggling without the support they need.
Clare Slaney, Richard House and 73 others involved in the mental health field say that voters face an unusually grave choice on 8 June
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.
The prime minister claims nothing has changed after giving a speech that rowed back on the Conservative manifesto plan for social care, introducing the idea of a cap on costs
In the run-up to the general election, six Guardian reporters are writing from constituencies across the country to find out what matters to you and in your area. In the second of a series of dispatches from Erdington, Birmingham, Nazia Parveen and photographer Christopher Thomond meet church leaders helping those in need – and struggling with the question of who is responsible
In 2010, when David Cameron launched his “big society” project in Liverpool, he talked a lot about empowering communities. The idea, he said, was “a deep, serious reform agenda to take power away from politicians and give it to people”. But then austerity took the big society’s place as the government’s defining idea, and the phrase disappeared from the party’s literature. It was dismissed as an “enormous failure”.
Seven years on from that launch, on a sunny afternoon 100 miles south of Liverpool, Cameron’s big idea is reluctantly being reheated in a Labour heartland. Today’s “empowered community”, as Cameron would have it, are the leaders and volunteers of the many churches and mosques in Erdington, a Birmingham suburb. They might wish they didn’t have to, but they are helping to meet the needs of some of the most impoverished people in society.
Prime minister says new legislation is needed to end discrimination resulting from current Mental Health Act
Theresa May will pledge to scrap the “flawed” Mental Health Act, warning that it has allowed the unnecessary detention of thousands of people and failed to deal with discrimination against ethnic minority patients.
In an attempt to meet her pledge to prioritise mental illness during her premiership, she will commit to ripping up the 30-year-old legislation and replace it with new laws designed to halt a steep rise in the number of people being detained. Increased thresholds for detention would be drawn up in a new mental health treatment bill to be unveiled soon after a Conservative victory. Mental health charities, clinicians and patients would be consulted on the new legislation.
Revelation in the Mad World podcast underlines princes’ desire to keep control of their own public image
Before 11am last Tuesday, there was one story set to dominate the week’s news agenda: Prince Harry and his decision to talk about his mother’s death and its impact on his mental health. On the day the prime minister rushed on to Downing Street to announce a snap election, every national newspaper featured the scoop by the Telegraph’s Bryony Gordon on their front pages.
For someone so well known to open up about their own mental health, still stigmatised and starved of funding, is news enough. Add to that the memories of his mother, a woman believed to have softened the “stiff upper lips” of a nation in the first place and the public interest in both senses is pretty clear. Mental health charity Mind reported an increase in calls of almost 40% a day following the podcast, Mad World.
It’s not only Brexit that will determine who gets the support of those whose futures will be most affected. Below, we ask a cross-section of twentysomethings which issues most exercise them
ALICE MUIR, 22
Voters in six regions are to elect mayors, who could provide the biggest surprise when it comes to health policies
While Labour will be desperate to push the NHS to the centre of the general election campaign, and the Liberal Democrats will be emphasising their commitment to mental health services, it is the six regional mayors being elected for the first time in May who could provide the biggest surprise when it comes to health policies.
The exact powers of the six – covering Tees Valley, Greater Manchester, Liverpool city region, West Midlands, West of England and Cambridgeshire & Peterborough – vary depending on the deal each region reached with the government, but none of them will control the NHS.
Related: Are we ready for a grown-up election debate on the NHS and social care? | Niall Dickson
Mayors could easily derail STP plans without any obligation to provide a coherent alternative