The cost to the state is huge. Mental health problems account for over £10billion of spending on incapacity benefits and housing benefit. There is a cost for employers too; mental health also makes up a large part of the £9billion a year costs employers pay in sick pay and the associated costs. But there is of course an incalculable cost for individuals whose lives are blighted and whose needs go unmet.
When talking about the health service, it is often more prudent to use the language of theology rather than policy. Phrases such as "hands off our NHS" and "the NHS saved my life" are common place and demonstrate the reverence the British people have for it, and the personal ownership many of us feel we have over it. Nigel Lawson's adage that it is the closest thing we have to a national religion still rings true.
You might be able, in the back rooms of Westminster, to convince one another that you can get away with a less-than-coherent health policy and rely on a lot of talk about the1930s to swing overwhelming public support for the NHS your party's way. But what the Labour Party needs now is a bit more Bevan-style fire in its belly.