These psychiatric hospitals became so infamous that the term used generally for psychiatric hospitals – psikhushka – has moved out beyond the Russian language to discuss the trend more generally.Obviously the idea was meant as a joke, but it’s originator used it as a way to shut down debate. When Burgon disagreed, the audience member responded “Well you would do, you’re Labour.”
Moving a little into abstraction, political opponents are often dismissed as fundamentally wrong – this week Diane Abbott said of those Brexit voters who oppose freedom of movement “what they really want is to see less foreign-looking people on their streets.”
Just as the Question Time audience member sought to dismiss socialists as delusional, Abbott sought to dismiss anti-immigration Brexit voters as racist. Similarly, centrist Labour members have spent months dismissing Corbyn supporters as indulgent or childish, rather than trying to engage with the question of why Labour’s centre has been so dramatically rejected.
No party or philosophy has a monopoly on wisdom. Our adversarial political system works best when we are willing to measure philosophies and policies against each other. That means listening honestly and respectfully to our opponents, and taking the time to at least understand why they believe what they believe.
Edit – A case has been made that Abbott’s quotes were taken out of context. We think she was at least clumsy in her choice of language (in the same way that Owen Smith’s language about female politicians was). However, there doesn’t seem to be video of the fringe event the quotes were made at, so perhaps they were taken out of context. We’d recommend the Daily Mail link in the comments for the fullest version of the quotes we can find online.