Today’s Evening Standard quotes Boris aide Daniel Moylan describing Ken Livingstone as “schizophrenic”.
Given his own use of offensive terms to attack opponents, Livingstone has little scope to complain but this isn’t the first time Team Boris have attacked opponents on the grounds of mental health.
At June’s Mayor’s Question Time, Boris himself branded London Assembly member John Biggs “Care in the Community”.
Like Livingstone, Biggs is capable of giving as good as he gets but, regardless of how resilient the target is, the casual use of mental health terms as insults should have no place at City Hall.
At some stage in their lives, one in four people will suffer some form of mental health condition. When they do they shouldn’t see those in public life as part of the problem.
Boris should apologise for his aide and ensure none of his appointees use the language of mental health prejudice.
UPDATE: Since I published this piece, Mark Davies, Director of Communications for the charity Rethink Mental Illness has issued the following statement:
“This comment is bizarre and absolutely inappropriate. You would never hear a public figure using any other kind of illness as a term of abuse like this. Schizophrenia is a serious illness, not a casual insult, frankly we expect more from people in the public eye.
“His comments underline the appalling level of misunderstanding there is about this illness, its causes and impact. I suggest Mr Moylan issues a full apology at the earliest opportunity.”
The Time to Change campaign – recently awarded new funding by Comic Relief and the coalition – works to tackle the stigma associated with mental health issues.
For information on their work, and how your organisation can show its commitment to tackling mental health discrimination, visit time-to-change.org.uk