Graham Grant: “Children will be subject to Orwellian official audits of their happiness and well-being”

The following is an extract from an article by Graham Grant published in the Scottish Daily Mail on 26 February 2015 under the heading:‘Is anything more chilling than the state laying claim to children before they are born?’

“As the upcoming inquiry into institutional child abuse in Scotland makes all too clear, the state is frequently the poorest of parents. Social workers perform a vital role – often struggling under enormous workloads – in rescuing children from neglectful carers. But too often they have failed – and when they do, the results are catastrophic: inquiries are held, vast reports drawn up and promises made of lessons learned.

“Against this background, it is scarcely believable that the state is about to embark on a scheme that will see its role as ‘corporate parent’ dramatically increased, through the so-called ‘named person’ scheme.

“The argument appears to be that, despite the state’s many failures as a ‘parent’ to children in care, yet more representatives of that failing state should be foisted on families, whether or not they are in need of assistance. The implication is that parents must simply trust these officials will act along-side them – and not attempt to take over from them.

“Children will be subject to Orwellian official audits of their happiness and well-being, and if deficiencies are found, ‘child plans’ will be drawn up – state-endorsed blueprints for their ongoing development, overseen by the named person.

“[T]he clear presumption is that there is a set of objective parenting truths which the state must enforce – and if these are not respected by the parents, official intervention is required. Of course, as much as any parent might want it to exist, there is no Holy Grail – parenting is an inexact business, based on instinct, trial and error, hoping for the best and working hard to attain it. It is driven by love and compassion – and often much anxiety. But parents are also being made to feel their judgment is eternally under question – and that it is always secondary to that of the state.

“According to the Scottish Government: ‘If concerns about a pupil are raised with their named person, they will respect the young person’s wishes for confidentiality if possible, while encouraging them to seek whatever support is appropriate, including from their families.’ This is the point at which the true nature of this scheme – as ambitious as it is chilling – is fully revealed. There is an appalling contempt for mothers and fathers at the heart of the SNP’s Kafka-esque strategy – but there is a greater injustice.

“The universality of the scheme – the fact it applies to all children from all backgrounds, regardless of whether any outside support is needed – means there is a far greater chance of those who genuinely need help losing out. And that would be simply unforgivable.”