Minister for Men’s Health and Wellbeing could be worthwhile in Westminster - Letter from Nick Fletcher MP

From: Nick Fletcher, Conservative MP for Don Valley.

Another week in Westminster and another week of revelations.

Is Parliament and the wider Westminster community that bad? Or is it just that it is in the limelight? Well, it is probably a bit of both.

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The spotlight is always on us in our job. I suppose we need it to be. We need people to see we are working for them, it gives them confidence that their views are heard. And it also gives transparency which is extremely important. Is the behaviour actually any worse in Parliament than society as a whole?

Nick Fletcher MP. Picture: Gary Longbottom.

Well, I would say in the light of this week the answer is probably yes, but then the question is why? I could make excuses, such as long hours, huge pressures, away from home, away from partners. And, yes, maybe a little drink thrown in there, too. You may ask given all that, is there any wonder. But maybe instead of looking at the problem and making knee-jerk reactions, we should be looking for solutions.

I have only been in this position a little over two years but I have continually heard how bad men are in general. Masculinity is toxic. Men are bad. Period. Can that be true?

And, yes, I have heard numerous solutions.

Let’s have a curfew on men after 10pm. Let’s have more police. Let’s have more women police than men. Let’s have only women shortlists.

Let’s close all the bars, let’s have more cctv, more street lights, longer sentences. The list goes on. But maybe we are pursuing the wrong solution.

Let me run an analogy by you.

Just imagine if out of every 1,000 cars we had three that were faulty. Not from any particular factory. Just three every 1,000 say in which the brakes failed.

What would we do? Would we say all cars are bad? Would we ban all cars? Would we put more police cars on the road? Would we build more hospitals? Would we wrap every pedestrian in bubble wrap?

No, I think we would try and find out what has gone wrong with the cars. What makes them fail every now and again.

So is that not what we need to do here? I think we need to speak to more men, we need to see what’s going wrong. See if we can’t help fix the problem. Fix all the cars on the road now, and maybe fix every new car that comes along, too.

Maybe the time is now right to have a Minister for Men’s Health and Wellbeing. They could focus on the full range of issues that men face from suicide and education through to rough sleeping and those engaging in criminal and unhealthy behaviour.