Keeping you up to date on the progress of the Named Person scheme and the NO2NP campaign.
Around 250 people turned out for a NO2NP special event in Edinburgh on Monday in a major rally against the Named Person scheme. People travelled from all over, coming from Moray, the Borders, Perthshire, Dundee and even near Inverness!
Speakers at the John McIntyre Conference Centre included former deputy leader of the SNP Jim Sillars, and prominent human rights QC Aidan O’Neill who successfully represented campaigners involved with NO2NP in court.
Journalist and commentator Kevin McKenna and NO2NP supporters Dr Stuart Waiton and Maggie Mellon also took to the podium.
Jim Sillars urged Deputy First Minister John Swinney to “do a Hammond” on the Named Person scheme and drop the plans.
He said: “My advice would be to do a Hammond. Last week the government at Westminster was in a hole. It had the brains to stop digging and my advice to this government is this isn’t going to work.
“This is going to be a punishment on you over the years ahead. Stop digging, get out the hole and abandon it.”
Aidan O’Neill QC, a leading human rights lawyer who was behind the successful Named Person Supreme Court challenge, spoke about the judgment and its implications for families. He explained the law and why the Supreme Court ruled the way it did.
He said the Named Person legislation was written in a “vague language of aspiration when it should be talking specifically in terms of obligation” and that’s why the Supreme Court ruled that it was “not in accordance with law”.
He was then joined by two members of his legal team, Laura-Anne van der Westhuizen and Sam Webster, to answer questions from the audience about the judgment.
Journalist and commentator Kevin McKenna spoke about media reporting of the Named Person scheme and encouraged delegates to contact newspapers to tell their stories.
Speaking about the scheme he said: “My chief concern is that it will inevitably, even if inadvertently, target families who are encountering chronic social disadvantage”.
Independent social worker Maggie Mellon spoke about the culture and practice of children’s services on the ground. She said families had wanted a single point of contact for parents, but instead the Government had created in the Named Person scheme “a point of contact about parents”.
She added that the legislation had “made parents and families accountable to services, it didn’t in any way make services accountable to parents”.
Dr Stuart Waiton, sociology and criminology lecturer at Abertay University, said the Named Person scheme undermines families and the idea of privacy. He spoke about the influence of early intervention and how it was a key driver of the Named Person scheme.
NO2NP spokesman Simon Calvert spoke about the breadth and success of the NO2NP campaign and encouraged supporters to get involved.
The event finished with a lively question and answer session with NO2NP stalwarts Lesley Scott and Alison Preuss joining the panel.
Lesley and Alison also featured in an exclusive video, where they shared their experience of being involved in the campaign and the challenges that lie ahead.
The audience also viewed a moving video featuring two parents telling their stories about the Named Person scheme and the traumatic effect it had on their families.
Delegates were also encouraged to take armfuls of a new NO2NP leaflet, Parents’ Guide to the Named Person Scheme, which was launched at the event.