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SNP told: don’t tell us how to raise our kids

This opinion piece is almost 7 years old

Lesley Scott says the SNP government vilifies named person opponents

Government is not always synonymous with truth. In Scotland we now have a situation where government is changing the meaning of words. This has the effect of presenting a reality that does not exist.

The Deputy First Minister John Swinney recently restated that the SNP and Scottish Government are “committed” to the named person service, or state guardian scheme.

Mr Swinney will no doubt object to my use of the phrase “state guardian” claiming it is unhelpful and not true to describe this policy in such terms.

But words have meaning and in fact “state guardian” used to describe someone appointed by the state to safeguard the wellbeing of children could not be more apt.

Lesley Scott

It is not, and should never be, the place of government to dictate to parents how to raise their children

Lesley Scott

So, why the outrage? Could it be that state guardian reflects the truth about this legislation that the Scottish Government and its named person supporters would prefer not to face; that it is the authoritarian, dictatorial and illiberal intrusion in to the lives of Scottish families by the state.

As the UK Supreme Court noted in its judgment, “the first thing a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world.”

Mr Swinney recently claimed that there had been much in this debate that had been unhelpful, something he has alluded to more than once.

But it is not debate that has been unhelpful; let’s be honest there has not been any meaningful debate, only the behind the scenes vilification of opponents by government and state guardian apologists.

Rather, the problem is the obstinate bullish attitude of a government that refuses to listen or consider any views that do not align or complement those it has already formed. People do not want this scheme; they went to court to stop it and were victorious.

The people believe that the state guardian scheme is fundamentally wrong in principle.

Wrong, because it is not, and should never be, the place of government to dictate to parents how to raise their children.

When government starts to view it as their duty to oversee, monitor, assess and judge families, forcing on parents state approved guidelines that carry swift damaging even permanent sanctions for those who do not comply, then we are staring the reality of state approved parenting in the face.

The truth in regards to the state guardian scheme is very different to the propaganda put forth by government and state agencies.

State guardians are not simply “a single point of contact”, they are the nucleus of a process that tracks and records your contact with any and all state agencies be they children or adult focused, and which has also co-opted third sector and voluntary organisations.

We are already well down the early interventionist road that puts statutory duties on practitioners to interfere in the lives of families based on nothing more than their own subjective worries. Wellbeing as a basis for intervention offers the state a pseudo-scientific authority by which to enforce actions on families against arbitrary and subjective measures that fulfil the state’s objectives regardless of personal freedoms and rights.

If the Scottish Government is being accurate in its claims of state guardians being voluntary and an entitlement then make it an opt-in service.

Better yet Mr Swinney, scrap the whole thing and show the parents of Scotland that you truly believe they are the best people to raise their own children.

Lesley Scott is Scottish officer of the Tymes Trust.



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almost 7 years ago
It's not surprising Barnardos can see the value in Named Person. I'm sure most of their service users would have benefited from named person, that's what makes them Barnardos service users. What seems to be forgotten is that Barnardos service users are not indicative of the population of Scotland, they are thankfully a minority who are in need of extra support. It is quite right that as an organisation they make their opinions known but to suggest that their experiences and those of the children they work with are a cast iron reason for named person is incorrect and a damaging way to create policy.
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Rose Burn
almost 7 years ago
Well said!
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Clare Chalmers
almost 7 years ago
Fantastic article, well written and sooo very true. It is not the business of government/agencies to interfere with how parents choose to bring up their children. You cannot and should not attempt to standardise parenting practice and impose uniformity. Very dangerous road to travel. Scottish Government beware - Mums come with sharpe claws as standard. Back off!
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Martin Crewe (Director, Barnardo's Scotland)
almost 7 years ago
Alternatively it could be that 'state guardian' is a totally misleading term for health visitors and school teachers who already have a role in looking out for the wellbeing of our children. What is certainly misleading is the quote form the Supreme Court judgement which was a background observation not related to the specific issue of named person (technical term is obiter dictum). The unpalatable fact for Tymes Trust is that all of the main children's charities in Scotland have continued to support named person, wellbeing and early intervention as we believe it will improve the lives of those children who need support. Tymes Trust does not speak for Scotland's children's charities on this issue.
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Susan Smith (not TFN editor)
almost 7 years ago
Missing the point. The Named Person is there to provide support in a child's wellbeing IF it is required. Most children get all the support they need from their parents and will never need this. The Named Person is more a case of knowing who to turn to if/when you need support rather than an enforced state guardian.
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John Wallace
almost 7 years ago
Much truth is spoken in the article but I note that the comments, especially from the unaccountable Mr Crewe. Whilst their Lordships comment quoted may be obiter dictum, the fact that they used that specific quote in their published judgment certainly opened eyes in the legal world - as you surely know Mr Crewe. They had many thousands of ways to get their point across but chose that quote.Your further point about "all of the main children's charities" supporting the named person legislation brings you into shame for a number of reasons; namely, 1) Why would these "main" (undefined) charities support legislation that any second-year Law Student at the University of Edinburgh could research in an afternoon to find out that the legislation, as enacted, was not ECHR compliant (as actually happened) 2). I checked with OSCR last year. There are 1,109 children's charities in Scotland and going by the only ones that signed the SNP motion, 999 children's charities were not even contacted for their opinion.Further, there is a rare disease community in Scotland that is 300,000 strong. 75% of rare disease affect children, 30% of rare disease patients die before they are 5 years old.Integrated care provision and coordination between medical, social and local support services, via multidisciplinary care pathways and innovative care solutions, is second nature to us, as unfortunately, is the unmet social needs of people living with rare diseases. Families of children with rare diseases represent a motivated group striving to find what is best for their loved one, make the time and find the energy to sift through thousands of pieces of information to find that one pearl, no matter how small. They dedicate their lives to researching their children’s condition. This dedication, in turn, can mean that even as they turn to medical professionals for help, it is those same professionals that in fact look to the parents for guidance. Parents of children with rare diseases understandably dedicate their lives to researching their children’s condition. This dedication, in turn, can mean that even as they turn to medical professionals for help, it is those same professionals that in fact look to the parents for guidance. Parents are accustomed to being the experts; in fact, they are acknowledged to know more than the specialists, even at renowned children’s hospitals because while we expect our doctors to be experts in all things medical, the truth is they are not, they often have little knowledge outside the area of their expertise. In the case of rare diseases, most doctors who will treat your child may never even heard of — much less have any degree of medical expertise in — the disease at hand. None of these experts in caring for children in the most challenging of circumstances were even contacted for much need input.Finally, the consultation was a sham, and you know it. I submitted my 27,000 word paper relating to the subject and how it pertains to rare disease, fully researched and referenced and got not even an acknowledgement.
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almost 7 years ago
Ms Scott's comment "it is not, and should never be, the place of government to dictate to parents how to raise their children" is utter nonsense - there are loads of ways in which the government imposes rules regarding parenting: you may not smack your kids, you must educate them, you can't leave them on their own until they reach a certain age etc etc.Also, given that Social Work departments contain Children and Families departments as standard, it's fair to assume that - tragically - in not every case are "the parents of Scotland ... the best people to raise their ... children.What's wrong with having a safety net in place for when things go wrong?
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almost 7 years ago
This is not a safety net incase things go wrong. There is already a safety net incase there are problems, its called child protection legislation . Which is already in place and has been for some time .The named person is about much much more than that .....This is for every single child in Scotland, even the ones who dont need it . And because there a few very tragic cases where parents harm their kids, does NOT provide justification for breaching the rights of every single mum , dad and child in Scotland. This legislation is effectively making every child in Scotland a ward of the state without any requirement of need or legal justification. Children and parents have rights that cannot be trampled upon at the whim of charities (and i use that term loosely) who quite clearly dont care about the kids rights and are more interested in protecting their revenue stream (judging by mr crewes post above)It's shameful that despite being ruled illegal by 5 of the most senior judges in the UK we still have the likes of mr crewe supporting it. But thats what happens with govt funded mouthpieces.Maybe it would have been a better idea to spend the vast amounts of money wasted on the named person scheme on the child protection system. That way it might have benefited kids who need it , rather than intrude on the ones who dont !
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