On Tuesday, former Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone made public remarks regarding the mental health of MP Kevan Jones. Livingstone suggested Jones’s criticisms of him were due to depression and that he should seek “psychiatric help”.
Kevan Jones,shadow defence minister, had previously suggested Livingstone was not qualified to work as the co-chair of Labour’s trident review. He was recently appointed to this position by Jeremy Corbyn.
Livingstone said to the Mirror: “I think he might need some psychiatric help. He’s obviously very depressed and disturbed … He should pop off and see his GP before he makes these offensive comments.”
Although Kevan Jones experienced depression in 1996 Ken Livingstone refused to apologise. He later added that Jones was “wimping around” and he should “get over it”.
At the request of the Labour he went on to have a slight change of heart.
But appearing on Channel 4 News later on Wednesday, he said: “If I’ve upset anyone, I’m really sorry. But this row isn’t something I started. It’s because I was attacked as not fit for this job.”
He added: “Jeremy’s strategy is that we don’t do all the offensive backstabbing and rows, and I just got on board with that.”
The following day David Blunkett told Radio 4’s Today programme he believed Livingstone should resign.
The row over continued on Saturday when fellow Labour MP John Mann labelled Livingstone a bigot on LBC radio.
Livingstone’s apologise and unapologise, show a disregard for the stigma faced by victims of mental illness. Sadly this has failed to create wider discussion about the language of mental health in mainstream media. This blog post by Jennifer Leonard examines that central issue in more depth.