Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
The minister enters and pulls up a chair. “Good morning folks. Let’s get down to brass tacks shall we? Item one is named person.”
The audience exchange nervous glances before silently taking their seats.
Sighing heavily, the Minister begins: “So we’ve lost in the courts. We’ve lost the public. The press has got hold of our plans and they’re tearing them to shreds. What do we do?”
A full ten seconds passes. “Suggestions!”
Eventually, a young council official clears his throat. “Minister, we’ve had some… Difficulties with this task. But there may be a solution.”
“Out with it son!”
“If I may be candid with you sir?”
“It would take a miracle to redeem these plans. Something, magical, if you will.”
“I don’t appreciate your pessimism but go on.”
“Sir, we think that the Named Person scheme could do with some, wizardry.”
“You’re speaking in riddles laddie!”
The official reddens before carrying on. “Minister, there has been some criticism of the scheme by an author.”
“Alexander McCall Smith.”
The minister tilts his head. “Who?”
“He’s a Z-lister. Detective stories. Doesn’t matter.”
“What does this have to do with magic?”
“I’m getting to that”.
An icy pause. “Get to it then”.
“We think that you could improve the appeal of the scheme by recruiting a proper A-list author, a national hero, to speak in its favour.”
“I understand. So who would you recommend?”
“How about J.K Rowling?”
“Aye, that’s the one.”
“I’ll think on it.”
“We might need some spell work to save this scheme yet.”
What have you just read? An extract from NO2NP’s forthcoming novel? The script from a new Holyrood-based ‘The Thick of It’ pilot? Sadly, no.
Doubtless the Named Person saga would make a gripping story. Perhaps one day it will. But this exchange could be truer to life than you think.
This week, following a freedom of information request, it emerged that the Scottish Government was urged to use J.K Rowling as a poster-girl for Named Person.
The minutes of a GIRFEC ‘Engagement on Information Sharing’ meeting in August last year, which involved Scottish Government and council officials, include a line on recruiting a “high profile person/celebrity”.
They state “Get JK Rowling on board, countermine the likes of Alexander McCall Smith – Z-listers”.
Nothing says ‘we want to monitor the wellbeing of your children’ better than the Harry Potter book series –where children rampage around an old castle doing their best to injure themselves, while isolated from their parents.
But aside from this, the suggestion reveals a lot about where the Government’s at with its plans.
Recruiting celebrities to ‘big up’ the scheme seems like a bit of a last resort.
Unfortunately for this Government, it’s going to take more than a trip on the Hogwarts Express to rescue the Named Person scheme.