It’s not hard to understand why politics and politicians have such low levels of public respect – and in he Scottish Parliament the bar for competence only just clears the ground.
Today, the parliamentary debate on the ludicrous, wasteful, inoperable and downright dangerous universally compulsory imposition of a Named Person upon everyone living in Scotland between birth and legl maturity, showed why contempt for the breed is never far from the surface of the people’s response.
Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats supported the SNP’s amendment to derail the Scottish Conservatives motion to mothball the Named Person provision,pending focused scrutiny of its impacts.
The SNP, while admitting that there are problems in the measure, chose to force it through anyway – because the move is ‘right’ – because they say so.
They got the support of the failing parties – Labour now overtaken by the Conservatives and the Lib Dems by the Greens.
But a vote’s a vote – and so the issue remains at the point of continuing major concerns for effective child protection and for democracy.
In Holyrood today, the Scottish Conservatives led the debate seeking to put the brakes on the named person legislation before it comes into force at the beginning of the coming August.
Instead, an amendment by the SNP acknowledging there were concerns about the principles and implementation was voted through.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats – despite calling for a pause in the scheme during the recent election campaign – went soft on that position, refusing to back the Scottish Conservative motion. In the disease known as ‘party politics’, you see, this is the score that really matters. Focused and achievable child protection comes a long way back in the priorities.
The carrying of the SNP amendment means the initiative will go ahead even though Education Secretary John Swinney’s amendment stated he ‘agrees that more must be done to ensure that implementation is successful and that the Scottish Government should, therefore, refresh the guidance provided to professionals and the communication of the policy to the public‘. [Ed: our emphasis.]
In other words, the statute as it stands is absolutely fine.
All that is wrong is that professionals and the public oppose it – because they do not understand it – and must therefore have it properly explained to them until they do understand.
This is fully the procedure of totalitarian states. The awkward squad must be ‘retrained’.
The nature and consequences of this political direction of travel could not be of greater concern to anyone in independent possession of their wits.
The Scottish Conservatives will rightly continue to oppose the plans, which they say they have done ‘from the start’. This is an over generous descripti0n of their abstention on the vote which passed the full Children and Young People [Scotland] Act 2o14 – but they were at least the sole abstainers and therefore had some inkling of the inability and dangers of this Act.
They see the Named Person provision [Section 4] of the Act] as intrusive of family life; and warn it will take resources away from those who need it most.
All of this is true and there is a great deal more.
The Operation Yewtree investigation by the Metropolitan Police into the rampant paedophilia of Jimmy Savile et al has revealed that these obscene predators routinely infiltrate care services and provisions of various kinds to get the too often largely unscrutinised access to vulnerable targets of their specific abuses.
This route to the sexual abuse of young people has already been opened up in Scotland.
In October 2015, an Additional Support Needs teacher [an ironic title in the circumstances], at Forres Academy near Elgin in Moray, became a convicted sex offender and was been placed on the Sex Offenders’ Register. She was found guilty of sending grossly offensive or indecent messages on the internet, relating to her personal obsession with child sex .
According to the national press of 11th October, this woman – Dayna Dickson-Boath – had been given ‘Named Person’ status over no fewer than 200 children, under Section 4 of the Children and Young People [Scotland] Act 2014. [The For Argyll article on this matter is here.]
The sheer volume of young people from birth to legal maturity in Scotland can only make it impossible for Health Visitors, Head Teachers, Deputy Head Teachers and Guidance Teachers to carry the massive caseload. The government does not intend to pay them for the responsibilities imposed upon them – and many will buckle under the strain.
The government – which clearly has no idea how to make this service work in practice, is openly leaving it up to each local authority to find their own way of covering the caseload.
At the moment, the unresolved problems in service coverage eate to:
- after hours
- school holidays
- sixteen to eighteen year old school leavers
- vulnerable over-eighteen year olds who cannot yet be deemed legally mature.
The greater the problem in finding enough Named Persons to carry the caseloads, the easier the access to this role for those with fully evil intent.
It is already being said that council workers may become Named Persons as part of the effort to fill the sort of gaps in the current provision which we have listed above. A youth worker in Glasgow has also just been made a Named Person.
The wider the spectrum from which these people are drawn the weaker the defences against exploitation by paedophiles. This means that a universal statutory provision may well leave an even wider spectrum of young people open to such destructive abuses.
The effectiveness of the ‘disclosure’ processes will inevitably also be severely tested.
Of her party’s motion that failed today, Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Secretary Liz Smith says: ‘This was a constructive solution to stop the intrusive and unpopular named person in its tracks.
‘But instead of backing up what they said in the election about the need for a pause, Labour and the Liberal Democrats seem to have changed their mind again.
‘Even the Scottish Government has admitted there are issues with this policy.
‘We remain utterly opposed to this legislation, as do many professionals, experts and parents.
‘Today was about trying to address the concerns of those people.
‘But it seems once again the Scottish Conservatives are the only ones to stand against this damaging idea.’
This issue has shown the Achilles heels of the First and Deputy First Ministers.
Leaders who are ultimately successful are sensitive to the public mood and open to understanding that the public’s hybrid sensibilities tend more often to be more secure than do the perspectives of the closeted political cadre.
Sturgeon and Swinney assume that they are right – against hard evidence – and that the public need retraining to understand the issues. That will play well at the ballot box.
Good leaders know when to back away.
Good leaders can admit being wrong – and gain respect for it.
This gang are never wrong; and it is already clear that they will fail in their own greater cause – because in their fearful caution, they wee unable to surf the wave to indy that the ground troops had given them.