Some of my best friends are economists
Last week a statement about the need for a financial rethink of the UK economy came out signed by a wide range of economists. There’s a slightly sad joke in there somewhere about whether you’d ever ask an economist to comment on our economic choices right now but that would indeed be a cheap blow. Although economists have a reputation only slightly higher than pharmaceutical companies, things like wage led growth and climate jobs are real and deserve an airing to inform our choices in the next general election. The list of signatories is an ABC guide as to where all the progressive economists have gone and a reminder of a world before deep-fakery where critical economic thinking took place in dark quiet rooms snaffled away in Business Schools. All well and good, but what difference does this make?
My old boss Fred Higgs, a hardened trade unionist with a whippet like political instinct provided me with a the opportunities for a decent political education working in unions. Partly because of his deep loathing for intellectuals, and lack of a decent education that came with coming from a poor family in the East End, Fred liked to keep things short and simple. He taught me some useful stuff about about not answering emails and avoiding state surveillance, handy in these paranoid android times, and how to cut through the blah to the underlying principles before taking a side. Despite being very much stuck in his own class and history, he wasn’t tribal about the politics of work, understanding that to win it’s not just about choosing sides, it’s about staying on it with whoever else is there.
At its most profound he taught me that being right is not enough to win. Even when we were high up on the moral high ground of anti-fascism and internationalism, he always kept his politics grounded in the realities of working collectively with the people on the same side. Maybe because I wasn’t ever sure he liked that many people, including me, he didn’t let the personal get in the way of the political.
The temptation to withdraw from anyone or anything political at this point in the general election is high. I no longer watch the news and I brace myself for reading the newspaper. From strategic voting to state surveillance, I keep churning it over whether by caring about industrial policy and climate change I’m being naive about the realpolitik that has taken over our fragile attempts at democracy. It’s the kind of environment where you can easily feel stupid for having principles.
For the really important political moments of our time you get to choose a side but not the people on it. The litmus test for political action is not about likes and un-likes, it’s about having taken the same position on the basis of a shared principle. That’s the foundation of anything resembling solidarity, a mutual belief and a deep acceptance that it cannot be realised by working alone. Real politics means being prepared to play with the other children.
A small progressive step has been taken in the politics of mental health with the formation of a new network called the Partnership for Counselling and Psychotherapy.
We are a partnership of organisations from across the counselling and psychotherapy profession with a shared purpose:
We have a determination to support and protect diversity in the field and since our inception earlier this year, we have realised the remarkable achievement of developing a broad front of diverse and experienced organisations, with a combined membership of over 19,000. There are campaign groups, think tanks, membership bodies and professional organisations among our number.
PCP is best described as a common platform, working together on our shared aims, motivated by our members’ dissatisfaction at the BACP, UKCP and BPC’s increasing distance from the many and growing concerns of ordinary counsellors and psychotherapists. We do not privilege the aims of any individual group.
Our current work is focused on two areas:
- The SCoPEd project, which has been developed without proper consultation, is currently based on questionable evidence, and fails to properly reflect or direct the profession.
- The plans for a Counselling and Psychotherapy APPG. When the UKCP and BACP announced their intention to create an All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), they were told by a member of the House of Lords that not only do they not have the power to do so, but that they had misunderstood the process. It is our belief that only an inclusive APPG, which welcomes diverse perspectives and is willing to engage with the profession as a whole, can properly serve the interests of clients and therapists.
Our invitation remains open for BACP, UKCP and BPC to meet with us and open their discussions, in order to cultivate a future for counselling and psychotherapy that works for counsellors, psychotherapists, clients and society.
If you wish to show your support for our aims, please send an email, with “Support” in the subject line, to
Email: [email protected]
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