Monday, 25 January 2010

More on children's social services

Further to my previous post, Rod Liddle kindly got back to me. He wrote:

C.Cole - yep, very fair points and well made. I meant both first and second of your interpretations. The central point though is that some people are too stupid to bring up children; I would argue that is almost certainly the case with the parents of the two boys. And then we prosecute them. We could have got in BEFORE there was trouble by making the sort of analysis made by those other social workers. But yes, you have a point, there should be a common sense middle way.

My reply:

Rod rightly notes that "some people are too stupid to bring up children". It’s a bold point, and one that's not often made openly, because people expect the next plank of the argument to be a call for compulsory sterilisation or suchlike.

For my own part, I certainly think some forms of intervention in family life can be justified on the harm principle in some cases. However, from what I have read of it, the case of Mark McDougall and Kerry Robertson does not appear to be one of them. The Daily Mail story cited by Rod documents an abuse of state power of the grossest and most chilling kind. It is as though the Fife social workers on the case regard Kerry as their property in some way.

First off they prevented her and her partner from marrying on the grounds that she was not intelligent enough. That's an outrage in itself. Now they have taken the couple's baby away. Given that Kerry is not a lone parent, how can there be grounds for doing this?

I posted again:

To lighten the mood, let me share the following story about Paul Dacre, whose paper is currently championing Mark and Kerry’s rights in this case. It is taken from a superbly readable Guardian profile of the great man back in 2001. Here goes:

There is one particular story that former staff of the Daily Mail like to tell about the politics, in the broadest sense, of their old paper. A while ago, the newsdesk there noticed a report from a local press agency. A young baby had died from being fed adult food. The Mail immediately got excited: it could interview the grieving parents, make the tragedy the basis for a campaign, and warn the nation of a previously unsuspected danger.

The couple were contacted, and offered £250 for an interview. They agreed, and talked eloquently and at length. A double-page spread - the Mail's traditional mark of a significant article - was put aside in the paper. For the photograph, the parents, who were not well off, were encouraged to look smart: the husband in a suit, his wife in a dress, both of them holding hands.

The morning the feature appeared, it was judged a success at the Mail. The article was by turns sensitive, alarming and full of useful advice. Paul Dacre, the editor then and now, approved - and from him all official sentiments flowed. But then, at lunchtime, Dacre's tall, slightly stooping figure was spotted beneath one of the television monitors hanging from the low ceiling of the open-plan office. Everybody nearby, as it was usually in their interests to, stopped work and looked and listened.

Dacre was watching the one o'clock news with his narrow eyes: on it were the bereaved couple, with messier hair than before, wearing tracksuits and trainers, smoking: not the Mail's sort of people at all. The editor, who is 52, spotlessly shirtsleeved, brisk in his diction, with hair like a cerebral Tory minister, was heard to growl. Then he spoke: "These people couldn't bring up a fucking hamster!"

Paul Dacre article link:

Rod Liddle's blog appears at the following location:

1 comment:

Karen Burke said...

I bet the paper would have paid that £250 to anyone at the local press agency with the inside knowledge to tell them that the couple weren’t really “Mail kind of people”.