John Cooper Clarke: I just don’t see how helping people die improves life

John Cooper Clarke has spoken against the move to change legislation on assisted dying, saying he cannot “see how helping people die improves life”.

More of a spotlight has been shone on the issue following That’s Life! presenter Dame Esther Rantzen, who has stage four lung cancer, calling for a parliamentary vote on assisted dying.

Clarke, 75, who wrote the poem Bed Blocker Blues about health getting worse as you age, told Tuesday’s edition of The Telegraph: “I’m totally against assisted dying.

“I’m sure people have the most heartbreaking tales to tell but extreme cases make for bad legislation.

“The whole issue is literally a matter of life and death, and in Europe, where it’s legal, we’re already seeing a mission creep where people are ending their lives for things like incurable depression.

“Just because someone is feeling a bit hopeless that’s no reason to kill them or help them to kill themselves, and to make it worse it’s dressed up in the language of human rights, as if there were some kind of liberation to it.

“I just don’t see how helping people die improves life as we know it.”

The performance poet has toured with the Sex Pistols, The Fall, Joy Division and New Order, along with playing major festivals including Glastonbury.

Dame Esther Rantzen illness
Dame Esther Rantzen who has said she is considering the option of assisted dying if her lung cancer treatment does not improve her condition (Jonathan Brady/PA)

He teamed up with Stranglers star Hugh Cornwell to release the album This Time It’s Personal in 2016 and Arctic Monkeys released his poem I Wanna Be Yours as a song on the band’s 2013 record AM.

Currently, assisted suicide is banned in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years.

Dame Esther told BBC’s The Today Podcast in December that she had joined Dignitas, an assisted dying clinic in Switzerland, and is going to consider the option if her lung cancer treatment does not improve.

A petition, by the Daily Express, in conjunction with campaigners Dignity In Dying and backed by 83-year-old Dame Esther, for a parliamentary vote on assisted dying has received more than 84,600 signatories.

It is currently just shy of the 100,000 signatures needed for Parliament to consider a public vote.

The Health and Social Care Committee launched an inquiry in December 2022 to examine different perspectives in the debate and is due to publish a report.