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Political rivals clash over austerity blog post

A row has broken out between two political rivals over a blog post linking suicide rates to austerity.

Writing on his website about the economy and the general election, Labour’s candidate for Hendon, Andrew Dismore, said three examples of the impact of austerity were the “shocking” increase in food banks, zero hour contracts and the rise in suicides.

The blog included a graph showing the number of suicides from 2008 to 2013, which he said showed it was falling during the last two years of the Labour government, before rising under the Coalition.

Alasdair Hill, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hendon, has accused Mr Dismore of “playing politics with suicide.”

He said: “His conclusion reveals his clear inability to distinguish between cause and correlation; instead manipulating evidence for his own means. However this pales in comparison to his apparent ease in using human tragedy for political gain.

“Every single suicide is indeed a tragedy. Yet we do not know the personal circumstances surrounding each case. It is simply an insult to the families affected to use their loss to forward his position.”

Mr Hill said that, according to The Samaritans, suicide rates had remained largely stable over the past 20 years, and that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) definition of suicide changed in 2011.

The Lib Dem contender added: “It is clear that Mr Dismore will do anything to get back into Westminster. Suggesting that the Coalition’s economy policy has led to people taking their own life is cheap and dangerous.

“It also neglects the fact that his party has largely supported the economic plans over the last five years.”

Conservative councillor Gabriel Rozenberg also criticised the post on Twitter as "shoddy" and "offensive".

Mr Dismore, who is also the London Assembly Member for Barnet and Camden, defended the post, and said there was “no doubt” austerity had caused “incredible hardship.”

He said: “There is a statistical correlation. It had dropped to 5,600 by 2010 but then it peaks in 2011 at 6050, and 6,250 by 2013. I am not saying anyone is individually to blame, that’s ludicrous. I am just saying there’s a correlation, as there is with the growth of food banks and the growth of zero hour contracts. These are all symptoms of the austerity programme.

“What I say is almost immediately when they took over, the rate began to rise. That is just one small part of a very long blog, which explains the economic performance of Labour is not as the Conservatives would have you believe.

“What he is trying to do is divert attention from the economic record. The bit he has highlighted is about two inches. This is one small part of a much longer and detailed critique. I think he has blown this out of all proportion.”

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Don't Call Me Dave says...
6:34pm Wed 29 Apr 15

Mrs Angry Like Dismore, you are talking utter bollards. He is quoted above as saying "almost immediately when they took over, the [suicide] rate began to rise" So we are supposed to believe that before any Coalition policies had even been enacted, or taken effect the evil Tories were to blame? Your loathing of the Tories is well known, but to blame them (and their coalition partners) for something as serious as suicide is pretty low and desperate stuff.

Don't Call Me Dave says...
5:33pm Wed 29 Apr 15

There is no gutter into which Andrew Dismore will not crawl in search of a vote.

Mrs Angry, Broken Barnet blog says...
6:22pm Wed 29 Apr 15

Rather than trying to dispute the statistics, I would think it would be more appropriate to think about the desperation that many disabled and unemployed people are feeling directly as a result of the remorseless, target driven, punitive Tory/Libdem policies: read, for example, the article here, about suicides resulting from benefit claimants facing sanctions: http://www.theguardi an.com/society/2015/ jan/03/benefits-sanc tions-leading-suicid es-dwp-depression. No one who has not had to face the terrible humiliation of such a process, or struggled to find legal aid to challenge the injustice and dreadful circumstances in which they find themselves can possibly understand the impact of the Coalition's war on the poor. Sorry, Alasdair - one expects a total lack of compassion from the Tories: the reason why so many voters are abandoning the Libdems is because they have sold out, and acted as facilitators for the morally repugnant Tory agenda, and I for one can't wait to see them receive a total thrashing on May 7th.

AverageBarnetResident says...
5:18pm Thu 30 Apr 15

As always, Dismore wades further into the mire as the election approaches, and Mrs Angry follows him into the muck like an obedient (if slightly dim) canine companion. Some of the stuff Mrs A threw around before Labour lost the local elections last year was deeply unpleasant. I'm no LibDem, but I have to say that Mr Hill seems very sensible indeed.

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