We Care about those who disagree

Samantha Stasy is a loyal Labour MP who genuinely cares about the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of her constituents. Every week she holds a surgery providing local electors with a forum in which to air their grievances. "I believe it is essential to stay in touch with our electors, listen carefully and help them overcome their problems or refer them to professionals who can."

Samantha: "Hello, Mrs Contrary, I've read your e-mail, taken on board all your comments and fully sympathise with your predicament."

Mary Contrary: "Let me explain my disagreements with your government and your voting record."

Samantha: "I'd love to discuss the hard decisions that we as politicians have to take and fully respect your opinions, but I think I know where you're coming from. I joined CND as a student myself back in the 1980s, attended a few SWP meetings and went on my fair share of demos. At the time I genuinely believed in the righteousness of the cause, but with help and support over the years I've begun to see the error of my ways."

Mary Contrary: "Don't you think that voting for an invasion that has caused at least 100,000 deaths and was as any rational analyst would conclude motivated by oil is one mistake too far?"

Samantha: "I must say conspiracy theories are getting wilder these days. I voted to end a brutal dictatorship and allow the Iraqi people to benefit from the democracy we take for granted."

Mary Contrary: "What about oil?"

Samantha: "This seems to be a common theme among the antiwar brigade. Yes, we hope that the Iraqi oil industry can return to its previous levels of efficiency in line with international environmental regulations, and are putting in place an economic framework in which ordinary Iraqis can benefit from resources in their own land."

Mary Contrary: "Ms Stasy. I don't need to hear this nonsense. You know all oil proceeds pay off debts that Iraq built up in the 1980s and in practice go straight into the coffers of US and Israeli multinationals with lucrative reconstruction contracts."

Samantha pauses to take notes 'Patient may suffer from mild form of antisemitism, consider holocaust awarenesss training'.

Samantha: "The mind boggles. I'll have to check out the exact facts about which contractors are responsible for the reconstruction of Iraq, but I'd compare the current situation with post-war Germany. There we had to temporarily take over some German institutions in a process of denazification, essential in the aftermath of the Holocaust. Only last week a constituent whose grandparents perished in this genocide lamented the lack of awareness in the young population today of these unspeakable crimes against humanity."

Mary Contrary: "Don't you think it's cheap to use the Nazi holocaust to justify crimes committed by your government today? We oppose all tyrannical regimes!"

Samantha: "Oh well, that's what the pacifists said in the run-up to the Second World War. Had we listened to them, we'd enjoy none of the freedoms we take for granted today and you and I might not be talking in this surgery today!".

Mary Contrary: "Look if anyone is appeasing tyranny and genocide, it's not us! It's you guys who support the Bush Junta."

Samantha: "Mary, you seem to be getting paranoid about tyranny in this country. All we want is to work closely with our international partners, NGOs and businesses to bring about a fairer more caring society. We know it's tough and there's a lot of disinformation, conspiracy theories and hate speech on the Internet. Listen there's a group that meets locally for people like yourself who suffer from paranoid delusions. A good friend of mine, Dr Hamish Thotpol, runs the group. Members are encouraged to air their grievances and take part in constructive acts of benevolence, e.g. they organised a bus to the Make Poverty History concert in conjunction with Nokia. They also offer help and support with various therapeutic solutions to make you feel better about yourself!"

Mary Contrary: "Are you suggesting anyone who disagrees with your party line is mentally ill?"

Samantha: "No not at all, just that when we feel depressed about society and paranoid about all these hidden agendas from the likes of John Pilger, we might benefit from talking with professionals who can help us refocus our minds on the things that really matter, like our families, jobs and independent life."

Mary Contrary: "Stalinist b###h!"

Samantha: "I'm terribly sorry I couldn't help you."

Ms Stasy takes a note of Samantha's contact details and calls the local mental health monitoring unit. "Hello, one of my constituents is suffering from an acute form of Paranoid Conspiracy Theory Disorder and I feel she may benefit from a visit from a community psychiatric counsellor. I've recorded our conversation and will forward all correspondence."

"Oh, PCTD. Any hint of antisemitism" asked the friendly helpdesk assistant.

"She did mention Israel in a negative light" the Member of Parliament warned.

"Sounds ominous. And what about oil?" enquired the youthful psychiatric services support consultant, readjusting her headset in a Delhi-based call centre.

"Yes, she seems obsessed with the subject!" remarked Ms Stasy.

The call centre operator confidently uttered her well-rehearsed line "Thank you for passing on this information, Ms Stasy, we'll see what we can do to help."

Author: 
Neil Gardner
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