Govt bullying over Named Person shows what a desperate fix it’s in

The Government’s dubious approach towards Named Person scrutiny is in the spotlight again today.

The Times reports that civil servants working for the Government demanded that clerks provide the names of witnesses who were due to give evidence about the scheme.

The clerks, who have a reputation for fairness and diligence, turned down the request, described in an internal communication as ‘inappropriate’.

On another occasion, officials asked if there was any “scope” for someone from the Government to sit in on Named Person focus groups.

That request was turned down as well, with the curt reply: “Afraid not.”

The news comes after accusations that Government officials carried out ‘nobbling’ during a crucial period of engagement in October and November last year.

John Swinney has admitted that special advisors spoke to Government-funded organisations before they gave evidence to the Education committee, in an apparent attempt to force these groups to toe the Government line.

It would be hard to believe the temerity of this behaviour if we had not seen it so many times before in relation to this policy.

The Government is fast earning a reputation as a bully, which arrogantly dismisses all criticism of the Named Person scheme, and would even subvert parliamentary protocol to suit its needs.

But this behaviour also betrays a certain sense of desperation. If ministers are prepared to cross ethical lines in order to make minimal gains on this policy, then perhaps they have run out of options.