Scottish “State Snoopers” Reappear in Different Guise

Astounding workaround of the Named Person scheme reported in Scottish press

What’s been said?

The title of our October 2019 Byte, Named Person Scheme pronounced dead, but its Spectre lives on, has proved more accurate than we knew.

Writing for the Scottish Mail on Sunday, Dawn Thompson reported on 9 February that “a strategic partner of the [Scottish] Government has now drawn up new advice on ‘delivering’ Named Persons on a non-statutory basis.”

In an article headed State snoopers still foisted on families despite being ‘axed’, Thompson speaks of “major push to deliver the Named Person scheme” being launched “within weeks – despite a Scottish Government pledge to scrap the controversial policy.”

Readers will doubtless recall the Supreme Court’s Judgement of July 2016 that the Named Person scheme could not pass into law because it would breach Human Rights legislation. Even its architect, Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney, was forced to acknowledge its withdrawal in Sept 19, saying it was “simply not possible”.

The strategic partner apparently providing this non-statutory workaround is Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland. They are to “unveil their updated resources this month.”

Even more worryingly, Thompson quotes them as saying that the “Named Person aspect [of the GIRFEC policy] has not been scrapped. The Government’s policy is that a clear point of contact should be made available to children, young people and families if and when they want support.”

Meanwhile, Thompson asserts, the allocation of a Named Person to thousands of primary school children continues, though the scheme is claimed to be voluntary. She later cites a Scottish Mail on Sunday investigation which found that three thousand of these so-called “voluntary” guardians were active already.

Multi-lateral protest has already been voiced at the scandalous way in which the Scottish Government are circumventing the law in order to enable them to continue with their own intrusive agenda.

Simon Calvert of the No to Named Persons campaign group said there was “no requirement for councils to run versions of the scheme, or for families to take advice from any non-statutory Named Person.” Alison Preuss of the Scottish Home Education Forum spoke of “a national scandal” and of the law being ignored “with impunity”, whilst sociologist Stuart Waiton of Abertay University opined, “This is very confusing. Parents should be concerned about this.”

Why does it matter?

Ever since John Swinney was forced to concede that the Named Person scheme would not happen but insisted that existing voluntary schemes would continue, we have witnessed the unfolding of a major case of Doublespeak, with increasing confusion at every level.

“Voluntary” or “if and when they want support” are meaningless concepts if Named Persons are being arbitrarily allocated to children by agencies, regardless of their parents’ wishes.

This army of bureaucrats seem entirely unaware that parents somehow managed to parent, and in the vast majority of cases attended very well to their children’s well-being, for many generations long before the rise of today’s professionals and experts who are certain they know better than the mere parents.

In this ambiguous, weasel-words climate, it is worth taking a careful look at the partner organisation working with the Scottish Government on the advancement of their agenda.

Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland’s website carries a document from March 2018 entitled “Embedding our Getting it Right for Every Child Approach.” Presented in terms of “meeting children’s wellbeing needs,” and at that stage seemingly focused on agencies working with disabled children or those living with long term conditions, the terminology and implications are worrying nonetheless.

Discerning readers may spot the irony in this statement from page 2, “Getting it right for every child… is our approach in Scotland that supports the strengths and capacity of children, young people and parents, to meet their own needs.” [Emphasis added]

The phrase “inclusive communication” also seems to have taken on a rather particular meaning in the minds of the writers, closely associated with the right of children and young people in Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child “to be listened to and taken seriously”.

Note too a subtle transfer of authority as the reasoning unfolds – the natural role of parents as primary decision makers over issues involving their children is being subverted, and parents are being downgraded to the level of one of several interested parties.

The four editable (and rather patronising) resources on pages 11-18 are also a cause for concern, particularly in their assumption of the right (and the rightness) of interposing a “key practitioner” or “lead professional” between parents and their children. The overall impression is that the professional will direct discussions, with the parent(s) and child as participants.

Fast forward to Thompson’s article which reports that this self-same organisation (funded chiefly, she claims, by the Scottish Government) will soon hold a briefing update workshop entitled “Delivering the Named Person.” Health and council staff “may” be in attendance, and updated resources reflecting “the new policy position” will be unveiled.

Note too the Alliance’s recent News Item from 7 February, which speaks very high-handedly about revised GIRFEC resources to accompany Named Person or Child’s Plans aspects of GIRFEC no longer being introduced through legislation. These aspects will however “continue to be supported through strong policy and guidance.” [Emphasis added]

This agenda is already being applied regionally. Thompson cites the North Ayrshire Children Services Plan as saying that families “will have an allocated Named Person” to help “identify your family’s wellbeing needs.”

What can I do?

It seems that the Scottish Government is working with an organisation which nearly two years ago stated its clear intention to embed the GIRFEC approach into its work. It looks very much like we are witnessing the reincarnation of the Named Person Scheme in another guise.

So Scottish parents and home educators alike need to stand ready to make it abundantly clear that your right to refuse a non-statutory provision in this regard is equally as valid as your right to accept.

Will it come to a test case? No-one can say at this point, but do remain vigilant.

Should you or your friends come under pressure to accept a Named Person, or if you find your local authorities overstepping the mark, don’t back down. Check your facts, take advice if necessary, stand your ground calmly but firmly. Contact the NO2NP Campaign, your local HE support group, your MSP, your local councillor, or failing all else, the Scottish Ombudsman.