Writing in TheIndependent on Sunday 15th February, AlastairCampbell (former spin doctor to Tony Blair) said “every politician in Britainshould be seeking the help of mental health professionals”. Many people areprobably nodding along with him, thinking all politicians aremad. I’m not going to take a satirical swipe at them, because despitetheir reputation, I actually don’t think most of them are mad. I don’t thinkpoliticians are normal; but, I certainly do not think they are mad.

To be a politician, you have to be acertain type of person.

For instance, you need tribal mentality toward yourParty. In other words, you must LOVE Your Party, and HATE The Other Party.

However, to say that politicians aren't normal because they have particulartraits that make them suitable to be politicians, is not the same as saying theyare mad. Every profession requires particular traits, but would you call anaccountant mad because they are good with detail and obsessive with numbers? Probably not!

Anyway, Campbell (you’ll be sad to realise)wasn’t trying to say politicians are mad. Actually, what he seems to want, arepoliticians to be “coached” by a psychologist. Campbell argues that “psychologistsare routinely employed to improve performance”; for example elite sports peoplehave psychological support.

On face value, if psychologists are used to“improve the performance” of elite sports people, why not have psychologistsworking to “improve the performance” of politicians. To accept thisproposition, though, you have to think that mental health professionals areactually helpful. The jury is still out about the value of psychology.

However, Campbell’s piece does make one wrybut pertinent observation…

The piece ends by saying, politicians don’tuse psychologists, because they risk “seeing headlines such as “Cameron has ashrink””. This certainly seems to the most likely headline in such a case. And,it wouldn’t even just be the hostile press that would run those kinds ofheadlines. Most of the tabloids and Tory-supporting press, such as The Daily Mail would see having apsychologist as a weakness in a PM, whichever Party the PM belonged to.