Put a large calendar in front of you this morning as you read this, you will need an efficient reminder that it is NOT April Foolâs Day.
Remember when we were all terribly concerned with the quality of the meat that we eat? Remember when the government decided that all pigs/cows/sheep should have their own log book, a reminder that we could look back on and know exactly where they had been, with whom, what they had eaten, when theyâd been sick, what had been prescribed for them, whether they had been given enough âemotional stimulationâ, had their hair cut at the right time â and to make sure there was no cheating, we insisted that they have a tag in their right ear so that we could always match them up to that record? We thought it was a great idea, we could trace our lamb chop right back to the time when it was just a gleam in a randy Ramâs eye. Farmers were just caretakers, right? Sure they bred the animals, but the state had a right to monitor how they went about it? Yes?
Keep looking at that calendar.
Remember when the new Childrenâs Act came out? All that guff about âbest interestsâ, and how at the end of the day, a childâs âbest interestsâ was to be judged by the judiciary on behalf of the state. Parents might think that curtailing little Tarquinâs TV watching to two hours a day was best for him, but if Tarquin went to court and argued about it, there was always the chance that the judiciary would over rule the parents. The parents might have bred the child, but the state had the right to monitor how they went about it.
Some overexcited commentators claimed that in fact children now belonged to the state, that they were a product, like a lamb chop, to be monitored. How we laughed! Battery children! So much oversight might be a reasonable notion for the child battering classes; but for the rest of us, well, we loved our children, we knew what was best for them, we would continue to rear them to the best of our ability, taking pride in the outcome.
Take a trip up to the Socialist Republic of Scotland, take that calendar with you â and see whoâs laughing now. Canât imagine every child with a tag in its ear? I can.
The Children and Young People Bill which has recently been introduced to the Scottish Parliament seeks to establish a universal surveillance system in respect of every child and associated adult in Scotland. I particularly like the âassociated adultâ â not just the biological parents, but any adult that the child may come in contact with would be âunder surveillanceâ.
You are expected to focus on the âchild protectionâ angle of course. Those rare, but can never be rare enough, times when a household throws up a Baby âPâ. It will probably be known as âAngusâs Lawâ or Hamishâs Lawâ, or whatever name the latest one in six million battered child is called. Naming a law after a sadly battered child legitimises laws that are actually the will of the mob. The use of christian names, accompanied by the obligatory wide eyed photograph of the child, has the effect of stoking raw emotions, it is the tabloidisation of political manipulation. Who would oppose a law, no matter how draconian, named for a murdered child?
So you wonât oppose it; you will keep the pleading eyes in the picture of Angus or Hamish firmly in your mind as you contemplate the new Act. âWe can never let this happen againâ, you will say, âhow dreadful, poor wee miteâ! And whilst you are busy focussing on the one in six million chance that this might happen to another child, you will find that you too have become a household âunder surveillanceâ. You too will have become a battery farmer of children on behalf of the Scottish State.
For the Bill doesnât just allow for the minute by minute surveillance of those âhorridâ households where the parents put drink and drugs before food; those towering blocks of human misery that you pass on the way home and avert your eyes; those cubicles inhabited by single mothers with âGod knows whoâ by way of the sixteenth boyfriend this year; those households containing nasty men who think nothing of bashing a security guard over the head and who wouldnât flinch at meeting out the same treatment to a helpless child; those cold damp warrens with coverless cots containing miserable children that you try not to think about â the Bill is about your household too!
Yours! Where the children are tucked up warm every night after a home cooked supper; where you vet every baby sitter, and agonise over whether you can afford to send Tarquin on the educational trip to Vienna. Yours! The home you scrimped and saved for so that Tarquin could have a garden to play in, and bring the school hamster home for the holidays.
God help you if the hamster decides to peg it whilst you are out choosing Clarkeâs sandals for little Tarquinâs growing tootsies. Because that could be a âtraumatising eventâ in Tarquinâs young life. One that will be noted in his log book, so that others may look back and decided if it was all your fault that Tarquin grew up to become a radicalised Muslimâ¦
You think Iâm joking? The Bill imposes a âState Appointed Guardianâ on every child; not just those deemed to be âvulnerableâ. An apparatchik whose job it will be to collate information from a wide range of social workers, teachers and medical professionals â and neighbours. Who will keep and share notes on every incident in your childâs life. When Tarquin tells his teacher that you didnât believe that he had tidied his room and went upstairs to check â thatâll be a tick in the box marked âChildâs account minimised/not believed by carerâ. Or âMummy says I have to ask Daddy tooâ â whoops, another tick â âCarer continually defers to partner for responseâ.
Take a look at the different agencies that will be sharing this all important information about whether you actually believed that Tarquin had put his toys away â everyone from the local fireman to âautomatic equipment prescriptionsâ â thatâs the people who decide whether grand-dad can have a walking stick on the NHS! The ability of State departments to leak information is well known.
This is State dictated child breeding â and woe betide you if you donât live up to the âwellbeingâ outcomes dictated by their check list. It makes chilling reading. Known as GIRFEC (Getting It Right For Every Child), it is already being used, and in some cases abused, by professionals within universal services and other agencies who have been routinely gathering, storing, assessing and sharing sensitive personal data on every child and every associated adult without express informed consent and in the absence of any enabling statutory framework.
I canât understand why they have missed out a requirement for ear tags? How will they know whether you have switched young Tarquin for a teenager with a clean check sheet when you present him back to the Government and wait to collect your Gold star for child rearing? That is why they demanded ear tags for the little pigletsâ¦
Can anyone figure out how giving Social Workers a zillion more innocent families to monitor is going to improve life for the vulnerable children that they canât manage to monitor now? I canât see the logic of it at all.