Monday, 31 October 2016

A song for Halloween

"Happy Hallowe'en folks, from a beautifully autumnal Scotland. Susie and I put together this video of the wonderful Violet Jacob poem that our great musical hero Jim Reid turned into a song. It was inspired by the death of her only son on Hallowe'en during the First World War. It is set on a farm and mentions a ploughman's kist like the old one we are sitting on. it alludes to Hallowe'en customs of the day among which bobbing for apples is still practised by children today. I carved out a large turnip to make a lantern in the traditional style. It's a lot more work but creates a great effect - very Harry Potter!"


Question Time in Gloucester

Question at 36.30 minutes with Ken Loach:

Has the British public become less compassionate since Ken Loach`s 1966 film `Cathy come home`?

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Childline appeals for volunteers

"Dame Esther Rantzen has urged more people to volunteer for Childline as the service she founded marks its 30th anniversary."

"She made the call as she visited the charity`s Glasgow base, which has handled 640,700 counselling sessions since it opened in 1990..."

"Childline has responded to the growth in the online world by offering counselling online as well as on the phone, and needs more volunteers to help meet the demand."

"More than two-thirds of contacts to Childline are now online, but it takes ten times longer to counsel a child when answers have to be typed, and the charity can only answer three out of every four children who contact the services."

I find it difficult to trust Dame Esther Rantzen and I am reminded of the police whistleblower who spoke to Brian Gerrish on UK Column Despatches:

"There`s no theory about it. This is conspiracy reality. And I was in the centre of a very horrible conspiracy. And so far I couldn`t tell anyone. I genuinely thought they would come for me and come for my children. And the other thing is I`ve seen first hand what the care system is, and there`s nothing caring about it. You know it`s a paedophile`s playground.... The other thing is I was working with informants and a lot of these informants had been in the care system and one of them turned round to me and said: `Whatever you do, never let your children go into care because what`ll happen is, if you aint there` - one of my kids was a little bit behind with things; I`d been telling him about it - `they`ll go for him straight away`..."

"I shut my mouth for quite a while. And then what happened was the Jimmy Savile scandal broke and I thought: `My God. It`s not just me. There`s others...`"

"I was asked this when I was interviewed as a witness. And they said: `Why do you think they did this?` And I said: `Well, because they`re involved. There is a cover-up and these people are appointed into these key positions. They have total governance of all these allegations. So they can`t be dealt with by any other unit... It`s like a filter. And then internally in this unit they will be filtered again; what gets proceeded and what doesn`t ... So these people are put in place to make sure these allegations don`t get out. And it`s not just that. All the years that I worked in this remit we would get what we call referrals. Referrals could come from schools. Referrals could come from playgroups, from wherever. And all the years I worked on child abuse investigations, I was aware of only once a referral coming through from NSPCC, only once. Now bear in mind they`ve got ChildLine and those kids that will be ringing ChildLine ... Why didn`t they ever come through?... And these people are filtered. And my opinion ... at least, they were deliberately put in there to protect those who are involved." 

See also

The trafficking of vulnerable children into Scotland is on the rise

"The trafficking of vulnerable children into Scotland has risen threefold since 2011, according to new figures. More than half of the 105 children who were found to have been trafficked in the past five years were Vietnamese, brought in to work on cannabis farms and in the sex industry."

"Seven of the children have since disappeared from care, thought to have been taken by their traffickers. One service provider said the figures were `just the tip of the iceberg`."

"Under the 1989 Children Act, it is a council's legal responsibility to care for under-18s who arrive in their local authority area from abroad, placing them into foster care or `semi-independent living` situations with funding from the Home Office."

"The Scottish Guardianship Services (SGS), funded by the Scottish government, then helps them to navigate the complex asylum, trafficking, and welfare processes...Many children who arrive in Scotland alone have come actively seeking asylum from conflict and persecution in their home countries."

"However, the latest figures from the SGS reveal that 40% of the 262 unaccompanied children it has registered since 2011 were brought to Scotland by traffickers...A Scottish government spokesman said: `Those who take part in the trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable people bring misery and long-term harm to their victims`."

"New legislation came into force this year that makes it more straightforward for our law enforcement agencies to take action. `However, we know legislation alone won't stop trafficking which is why we are working with others including Police Scotland and the Crown Office to raise awareness of these appalling crimes, and to identify perpetrators and disrupt their activity`..."

"But for the young Vietnamese in Scotland, their nightmare does not always end when they escape.

Seven children - all of them Vietnamese - have disappeared from council care since 2011, including 15-year-old Thang Van Bui, and are feared to be back with the gangs that trafficked them.

This is confusing. We are told that more than half of the 105 children were Vietnamese, brought into Scotland by their traffickers. What about the other half who were trafficked?  Do they include children who arrived alone seeking asylum? It is important to know how well these children are being taken care of once they get here.

Saturday, 29 October 2016

Police attack peaceful water and land protectors

"Dramatic video from Intercept reporter, Jihan Hafiz, was released this week from the Dakota Access Pipeline protests showing a full on assault by militarized police on peaceful people. The video is from Saturday but took several days to be released as cops confiscated the camera used to film it."

"The video was taken as water protectors and reporters covering the protests marched toward the construction site. However, their peaceful walk was swiftly interrupted by militarized shock troops armed with massive cans of pepper spray, batons, rubber bullets, and assault rifles."

Friday, 28 October 2016

Data sharing guidelines should be removed says ICO

"Ministers have been urged to remove official advice on sharing data relating to children from the Scottish government’s website following the recent court ruling against the SNP’s controversial `named person` scheme."

"The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in Scotland wrote to the government to say that previous guidance from the data watchdog should be replaced with new guidelines drawn up after the UK Supreme Court ruled that some elements of the scheme were incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights."

"The move comes after Scottish councils sought clarity on how to treat child welfare data on families as the row over the policy continues."

"It was heralded as another victory by campaigners opposing the national guardian scheme, who claimed that the ICO’s original advice had been illegal a view which was refuted by the ICO."

"Simon Calvert, spokesman for the NO2NP campaign which opposes the scheme, said: `This was clearly legally inaccurate advice given the outcome of the court case. It further demonstrates how the public sector is having to rein in its policies and practices in light of the Supreme Court victory`..."

"Copies of the updated guidance have also been sent to all of Scotland’s councils and health boards and every chief constable at Police Scotland."


According to Dr Sandy Gluckmann who tries to turn childrearing into a matter of brain chemistry: "Every moment when a parent interacts with his or her child is an opportunity to promote a healthy brain chemistry, just as the NeuroParenting techniques do."

On the other hand, opponents have this to say about the consequences of this type of so-called expert advice:

"Parents are deprived of the authority that depends on their moral
autonomy. Children are regarded fatalistically as the products of
objective circumstances, as their subjective agency is also implicitly disparaged. Parents lose their true parental status and are redefined as professional caregivers. The wider community of family and neighbourhood, and other sources of informal support and guidance, are dismissed (as much too risky)."

Read the `Expert Invasion of Family Life`:

The Named Person scheme in Scotland has the same debilitating effect.

Australian public are being encouraged to report nurses who are anti-vaccination

(NaturalNews) "Is there some sort of race to see which country can eliminate the rights of its people first? It is certainly beginning to feel like there must be something going on, since government overreach looks like it is reaching an all-time high across the world."

"While countries like Australia demonise other nations for their lack of progressiveness, recent developments suggest that its government is taking away people's freedom to think for themselves, slowly but surely chipping away at those who have dissenting opinions. The evidence? The newly released vaccination standards provided by The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia in response to what the organisation described as a, ` small number of nurses and midwives promoting anti-vaccination via social media`."

"In their statement, they wrote that the board was merely taking the time to make its expectations in regards to vaccination and vaccination advice very clear to registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives. `The board expects all registered nurses, enrolled nurses and midwives to use the best available evidence in making practice decisions`."

"This sentiment might have been acceptable, if it wasn't coupled with the organisation also prompting people to tattle on each other. You see, the board is also urging members of the public to come forward and report nurses and midwives who may be expounding anti-vaccination beliefs. Surely anyone who goes against the grain deserves to be punished?"

"If the medical industry was as strictly regulated as it purports itself to be, perhaps so many people wouldn't be dying each year from medical errors. An estimated 18,000 to 54,000 people in Australia lose their lives to medical mistakes each year but the industry continues to insist that it`s those pesky thoughts that are really putting people in jeopardy. How dare anyone want to help people and think for themselves at the same time?"

"In their statement, the board noted that any reports will not be taken lightly. `The board will consider whether the nurse or midwife has breached their professional obligations and will treat these matters seriously`."

"To make matters worse, not only will these brave nurses and midwives be reported by people who may once have been their friends or colleagues, but the promotion of what the government deems `misleading or deceptive information` is a serious offense."

"And boy, will they take it seriously. Under national law, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is able to prosecute anyone who commits such an act. While we all know that the true deception lies in the promotion of vaccines as a public health necessity, we also know that mainstream medicine will do anything to protect their precious immunisations."

Learn more:

The plight of children in Scotland, UK and elsewhere

Scottish child abuse inquiry
David Scott is on Skype link with Mike Robinson in the UK Column studio and they begin Friday`s programme by talking about the Scottish child abuse inquiry headed by the Right Hon Lady Smith. "She was appointed in July this year," explains David Scott, "After the previous head resigned under huge pressure from the Scottish government where there seemed to have been a trumped up character assassination attempt. One of the other three members of the panel also resigned citing government interference."

Robert Green

"So Lady Smith is the latest person to head up the inquiry and is a very interesting name to anyone who has followed the Holly Greig case, " says Scott, "Because she had a hand in the appalling treatment of Robert Green at the hands of the Scottish judiciary."

"So you wrote to her then," prompts Mike Robinson.

"Yes, we pointed out that when Robert was sentenced there was an outrageous and bigoted anti-English outburst from the [sheriff] in the case, Sheriff Principal Edward Bowen, and this showed prejudice but was entirely omitted from the official court records. Robert took this as a complaint and Lady Smith oversaw the complaint. She interviewed Robert; she interviewed Sheriff Principal Bowen and his clerk but none of the witnesses who were in the court and who heard the outburst... She wouldn`t talk to any of them. The official court record did not show the offending statements that had been made and although the entire proceedings were recorded, Lady Smith said she had listened to the recording and the phrase was not there. But she wouldn`t let Robert listen to the recording. So it was all very unsatisfactory. We had multiple witnesses who had all reported more or less the same thing, not necessarily word for word. The reports came in but they were almost identical and it was all to do with Robert`s nationality. And `How dare you come up to Scotland and tell us how to run our justice system. We know how to run the justice system in Scotland`. And these comments were stricken from the record as they would have been grounds for appeal."

"So we asked Lady Smith for comment on this and how we can trust her to enquire into child sexual abuse when we couldn`t apparently trust her to enquire into the mistreatment of a campaigner against child sexual abuse. This was the detailed response we got:"

Hi David,

A spokesperson for the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry said: "It would not be appropriate to comment on individual cases."



Plight of child migrants

The next item deals with an article in the Telegraph: France rebukes Britain over plight of children left stranded after destruction of `Jungle` camp at Calais.

Mike Robinson clarifies: "They are saying that between 100 and 200 children spent the night in a makeshift school at the edge of the `Jungle` after sleeping rough the previous night and Bernard Cazeneuve who is the equivalent of Amber Rudd - so he`s the French Home Secretary - and he told Amber Rudd he wanted to stress the need for children who remain in Calais to be properly protected."

"Well David we`ve been highlighting on this programme for quite a number of months that bringing them to Britain doesn`t guarantee that they will be properly protected. Does Scotland have a better reputation for this?"

"Clearly not. And neither does anywhere in Europe. I was seeing reports were coming in from Greece where some of the child refugees and migrants are on the street involved in prostitution. And you fear for their safety either in Britain or in France but particularly in Britain. Would they end up in the same horrible situation?"

Mike Robinson reinforces his view: "Look it`s increasingly clear to me that what`s going on here is an industry being established which is running along the same type of business model as the drugs industry. So we`ve got this notional ban on drugs from governments while in the meantime governments directly benefit from the trafficking of drugs. The same thing seems to be happening with people increasingly. So we`ve had an announcement from the Ministry of Defence, in the last day or so, they`re going to send troops over to Libya to train Libyan patrols off the coast of Libya to try to prevent people being trafficked through Libya. But of course this is the same kind of scenario: deliberate underinvestment in what you might call enforcement while in the meantime the trade continues and in this case it`s a trade in humans. It hasn`t worked for drugs and it isn`t going to work for this... The intention is that these people continue to be trafficked."

David Scott agrees that the war on drugs has been horrendous. "In the case of drugs it`s most certainly been government intervention that`s promoted it both in terms of overseas and poppy growing areas and in the trafficking of drugs particularly into America where drugs were coming in and guns were going out and ... they were getting American kids hooked on heroin, cocaine and crack in order to fund the illegal wars overseas. It was just as cynical as that. And it`s become such a huge industry that without the liquidity, it brings the entire banking system - Wall Street etc would likely collapse -  So it becomes an essential component of our corrupt system that we live under and therefore it keeps manifesting itself generation after generation and nobody really does anything to stop it. To consider human trafficking becoming something on that scale is truly horrendous."

United Nations

"Well here is Fillippo Grandi who is UN commissioner for refugees and he`s highlighting the word `invisible.` He says it`s the word most commonly used to describe what it is to be without a nationality ... And what he`s doing is promoting this campaign from UNHCR. It`s #IBELONG. Today ten million people around the world are denied a nationality. They often aren`t allowed to go to school, get a job, open a bank account, buy a house or even get married. You can help change their lives and it says the main reason people are stateless is because of discrimination, because of ethnicity, because of their religion, because in some countries women cannot pass their nationality on to their children. We believe it`s time to end this injustice. With enough courage we know it`s possible. Governments can change their laws and procedures and give stateless people their rights and a place to belong and in ten years we can ensure everyone has a nationality because if we don`t they suggest it`s going to get worse. And you know I thought it was a little ironic that the United Nations which is working so hard to abolish the idea of sovereign nations is now demanding that people belong to them. But you pointed out the graphic on the right."

"Yes... when you look at this #IBELONG when the man is crouching down pretending to be a globe. So it seems to me to be saying `I belong to the globe`; it`s a unitary planet-wide identity ... seems to be suggested there even though they are talking there on the surface about nation states."

The Named Person scheme

They move on to the Named Person scheme where the headline on NO2NP website is: Swinney accused of snubbing concerned parents and constituents.

"Yes he was, and people were asking to meet him. He went public and said we want to have a discussion; we want to consult; it`s going to be an enormous consultation but we don`t want to consult with people who don`t agree with us. You have to agree first in order to be included in the consultation. So some concerned parents wrote to him and asked him for some time to meet and discuss the issues surrounding the Named Person and the following letter was the ... reply: And we see here reference again to `We are only willing to talk to people who accept the sovereign will of parliament` essentially. So it`s the divine right of parliament rearing its ever uglier head again and the sovereign will of the people is irrelevant because parliament has spoken. And that is what is being told without a hint of a smile is democracy..."

"It is a pretty spectacular approach both from the Scottish parliament and the Westminster government that really we cannot comment or criticise or change the mind of parliament because the will of parliament is supreme and in fact if we go to court in order to try to force them to behave in a particular way, well the court can be ignored as well. This is a staggeringly unconstitutional position to take," says Mike Robinson.

"On a happier note the NO2NP campaign was nominated for Political Campaigner of the Year in the Scottish Political Awards 2016... and NO2NP won..."  David Scott reports that the news was not received well by opponents.

The Highland Investigation

"Now the Highland Investigation, you had a meeting in the Royal Highland hotel last week. How did it go?"

"It was very good, very good turn out, very interesting conversations which lasted for quite a few hours and extremely worthwhile.  So thank you to everyone who came along to that..."

David Scott is asked to remind viewers and listeners what the Highland Investigation is setting out to achieve.

"Highland Council has been held up as the testing ground for the Named Person and the whole GIRFEC approach which surrounds every aspect of the state`s interaction with children and families and it has been held up as a wonderful success. And the apostle of GIRFEC [Getting it Right for Every Child] is a gentleman called Bill Alexander from Highland Council and his constant refrain is: `Come to Highlands and see how well it`s working. No-one could have any problems with this. It`s been proven to work so well on the ground.` So we started to make some enquiries and we found an entirely different story."

"We found Council officials behaving in the most dreadful way towards loving parents and what we`re doing is we`re gathering information; we`re gathering stories; we`re gathering accounts and we`re seeing patterns. So it`s not just one or two stories, we`re seeing patterns as to how GIRFEC and the Named Person really operates. One thing that came out of Wednesday night was the realisation that almost nobody in Highland Council who was a child or who had a child during the GIRFEC Named Person trial - and remember Named Person we`re told is a single point of contact; so parents know who to talk to if there`s a problem - almost nobody knew they had a Named Person because Highland Council simply didn`t tell them. It was secret. So they didn`t get many complaints because nobody knew the scheme was actually running. How can you have a single point of contact if you don`t know they exist?"

Mike Robinson interjects: "So effectively what was going on there was somebody was spying on families and children and they had no awareness of that."

"That`s exactly correct. It was a single point of contact about families, not for families."


Returning to the account of the nine-year-old girl who tried to commit suicide in front of her classmates as a result of bullying, David Scott points to a statement made by local councillor Roddy Balfour in the local press: "There`s no doubt there`s been problems with bullying but I`m satisfied that it has been addressed by the school.  So nothing to see here. Now it transpires that Roddy Balfour has quite a lot of other connections to quite troubling cases. We had one where the parents were involved, again with severe bullying, and they went to Roddy Balfour for assistance and they took with them lots of documentation to justify their case that they were being badly treated by Highland Council. And he was shocked; he said he`d do something; he was right on their side and extremely supportive. And off he went to meet the council officials and nine months later the parents hadn`t heard anything from him and they contacted him and he said he`d been warned off."

"So we wrote to him. We said, Mr Balfour, we`ve been passed information regarding a request constituents made for you to intercede on their behalf with Highland Council Education Department. I understand you visited this family in the home and expressed outrage and disbelief at what they were going through. Armed with documentation from the family that supported their view and claims, you attended a meeting with Mr Hector Robertson and Mr John Bruce of the Highland Council Education Department. You had no contact with the family following this meeting until nearly nine months later when one of the parents telephoned you. They asked you why you had abandoned them to which you responded you`d been warned off at the meeting with Mr Robertson and Mr Bruce. I understand that the family`s advocate also contacted you over your remarks and you told them you had been advised to walk away from it... Clearly some pressure was brought to bear on you. Could you explain how and by whom and if known to you why this was done?  Could you also explain why you complied?"

"So that was the question that went in to Mr Roddy Balfour and a similar one went in to Ms Glynis Sinclair who had a similar lack of response once interacting with the Council. Now the reply that came back was essentially that Mr Roddy Balfour had no recollection of these events..."

Despite more correspondence with Mr Roddy Balfour there has been no further response.


A number of other topics were discussed for those who are interested. See  

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Mhairi Black on tax credits


"Westminster is scrapping the 2010 Child Poverty Act and changing the definition of poverty to mean lack of social mobility, rather than lack of income."

"Speaking at a fringe event on abolishing child poverty at the SNP conference, Hanna McCulloch of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) referred to the UK Government `defining child poverty out of existence`."

"In stark contrast, the Scottish Government is now consulting on a new child poverty bill and on how best to use Scotland’s new devolved social security powers, with a target of abolishing child poverty completely by 2030."

"Among Holyrood’s new powers, the parliament will be able to create new benefits in devolved areas and top-up UK-wide benefits including Universal Credit, Tax Credits and Child Benefit."

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The school governance review

"We are seeking your views on how education is run: who should take decisions in relation to the education of children and young people and how the funding of education can be made fairer. We know that teachers and practitioners need support to do their jobs and that they need opportunities for high quality professional development. The governance review also seeks your views on how this can be improved."

Now that they have dismantled Scottish education with Curriulum for Excellence, a misnomer if ever there was one, the Scottish Government intends to finish the job by handing school budgets to each Named Person. There`s a nice bribe for playing along with the establishment.
This will be followed by setting up non-elected regional boards ensuring that education is taken out of local authority control. These new schools will not be called academies - the Scottish people would not accept that Tory policy - but the effect will be the same: it will create a pathway for private companies to move in and grab bigger slices of the education budget.
Think of public/private partnerships, Agenda 21, joined up working, the Eurozone all moving in the same direction, strangely enough. In this instance it is being done in the name of `listening to children` when it is obvious that ministers have already made up their minds. Or should we say, rather, that they have already had their minds made up for them ?

Any sign of the recovery ?

Not likely.

Asked what would be the effect on consumers in the EU economy at large if banks were able to just dump their bad loans, Professor Michael Hudson had this to say:

"Its really very simple mathematics. You have to abolish pension plans. You have to abolish social spending. You have to raise taxes. You have to have at least fifty percent of the European population emigrate, either to Russia or China. You would have to have mass starvation. Very simple. That’s the price that the Eurozone thinks is well worth paying. It’s the price that it thought Greece is worth paying. To save the banks, you would have to turn the entire Eurozone into Greece."

"You’ll have to have the governments sell off all of their public domains; sell off their railroads, sell off their public land. You’ll essentially have to introduce neo-feudalism. You’ll have to roll the clock of history back a thousand years, and reduce the European population to debt slavery. It’s as simple a solution as the Eurozone has imposed on Greece. And it’s a solution that the leaders and the banks are urging for responsible economists to promote for the population at large."

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

I, Daniel Blake

The social determinants of health

"The relationship between poverty and health inequality has been clearly established and well documented (Hirsch, 2005; Roberts, 2002). Children born into low-income households are more likely to experience developmental and health problems from birth, and to accumulate health risks as they grow older (Roberts, 2002)."
The Scottish Government`s answer is to pay particular attention to the early years of life.
"We have always known the earliest years of life are crucial to a child’s development. However, it is increasingly evident that it is in the first years of life that inequalities in health, education and employment opportunities are passed from one generation to another. The early years framework signals local and national government’s joint commitment to break this cycle through prevention and early intervention. In short we aim to give every child in Scotland the best start in life."


A report into the `Glasgow Effect` which is often extrapolated to the `Scottish Effect` explores a wider range of social issues which depress communities. Its conclusions draw doubt on the wisdom of the Scottish Government`s focus.

Although Glasgow shares many socioeconomic characteristics with cities like Liverpool and Manchester, the health inequalities are greater. Certainly poverty will weaken any community but the `Glasgow Effect` cannot be explained simply in terms of poverty or deindustrialisation; there must be other factors too.

One of those factors was the establishment of new towns in the greenbelt like East Kilbride and Cumbernauld which took a large proportion of young people, particularly families, from the decaying city. Investment was channelled into the new towns but little was available to bring new jobs into Glasgow.

Overcrowding has always been a serious problem in the city which has very serious health consequences. Part of the answer was to build high rise flats - hardly suitable for children - and huge housing estates on the periphery. These estates had few amenities, no jobs and hardly a bus out of the place after a certain time at night. They became dumping grounds full of demoralised people. That in itself has health implications. Meanwhile the city dressed itself up along the Clyde so that visitors could enjoy going into its new shopping malls.

The point is that these decisions were taken at the macro-level. The individuals who were at the receiving end of these policies had little to do with decision making. Any government that focuses on the first few years of life as if that explains everything about poverty and health is reneging on its responsibilities.

It is nonsense to blame parenting. The cycle of deprivation has higher order explanations.

Read the report:

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Breadline Britain

From The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (Robert Tressell)

'Let us begin at the beginning,' continued Owen, taking no notice of these interruptions. 'First of all, what do you mean by Poverty?'

'Why, if you've got no money, of course,' said Crass impatiently.

The others laughed disdainfully. It seemed to them such a foolish question.

'Well, that's true enough as far as it goes,' returned Owen, ' that is, as things are arranged in the world at present. But money itself is not wealth: it's of no use whatever.'

At this there was another outburst of jeering laughter.

'Supposing for example that you and Harlow were shipwrecked on a desolate island, and YOU had saved nothing from the wreck but a bag containing a thousand sovereigns, and he had a tin of biscuits and a bottle of water.'

'Make it beer!' cried Harlow appealingly.

'Who would be the richer man, you or Harlow?'

'But then you see we ain't shipwrecked on no dissolute island at all,' sneered Crass. 'That's the worst of your arguments. You can't never get very far without supposing some bloody ridclus thing or other. Never mind about supposing things wot ain't true; let's 'ave facts and common sense.'

''Ear, 'ear,' said old Linden. 'That's wot we want--a little common sense.'

'What do YOU mean by poverty, then?' asked Easton.

'What I call poverty is when people are not able to secure for themselves all the benefits of civilization; the necessaries, comforts, pleasures and refinements of life, leisure, books, theatres, pictures, music, holidays, travel, good and beautiful homes, good clothes, good and pleasant food.'

Everybody laughed. It was so ridiculous. The idea of the likes of THEM wanting or having such things! Any doubts that any of them had entertained as to Owen's sanity disappeared. The man was as mad as a March hare.

'If a man is only able to provide himself and his family with the bare necessaries of existence, that man's family is living in poverty. Since he cannot enjoy the advantages of civilization he might just as well be a savage: better, in fact, for a savage knows nothing of what he is deprived. What we call civilization--the accumulation of knowledge which has come down to us from our forefathers--is the fruit of thousands of years of human thought and toil. It is not the result of the labour of the ancestors of any separate class of people who exist today, and therefore it is by right the common heritage of all. Every little child that is born into the world, no matter whether he is clever or full, whether he is physically perfect or lame, or blind; no matter how much he may excel or fall short of his fellows in other respects, in one thing at least he is their equal--he is one of the heirs of all the ages that have gone before.'

Some of them began to wonder whether Owen was not sane after all. He certainly must be a clever sort of chap to be able to talk like this. It sounded almost like something out of a book, and most of them could not understand one half of it.

'Why is it,' continued Owen, 'that we are not only deprived of our inheritance--we are not only deprived of nearly all the benefits of civilization, but we and our children are also often unable to obtain even the bare necessaries of existence?'

No one answered.

Benefit of Named Person scheme remains unproven

"Those who shout the loudest or who have preferential access to officials are able to influence the legislative and policy-making processes, while those with other perspectives are too often ignored. That is why it is essential that in the development of new legislation or Government policies, a sound evidential basis is established. One issue which highlights this problem is the ongoing saga of the Named Person scheme. The Scottish Government claimed that owing to the success of the scheme in the Highlands in reducing referrals to the Children’s Panel, the scheme should be rolled out across the country. It worked closely with various children’s charities in developing the legislation. Understandably, these groups are keen to support any measures which they think might improve the outcomes for disadvantaged children. "

"Now that the information sharing aspects of the Named Person scheme has been found to infringe children’s and parent’s rights, the Scottish Government has asked these groups which supported the initial draft of the scheme to suggest how to rectify the problem. In his appearance before the Education and Skills Committee recently, education secretary John Swinney said that the Named Person scheme would still be rolled out and that the pilot scheme run by Highland Council was, in his view, responsible for a 68 per cent decline in referrals to the Children’s Panel between 2007 and 2013."

"The problem is that a closer look at the data shows that the results in Highland Council area are far from exceptional. Over the last ten years there has been a decline in referrals across the whole of Scotland by 72.6 per cent. Highland ranks only 11th out of 32 local authorities in its track record on reducing referrals. Other councils which piloted the Named Person scheme, such as Angus and South Ayrshire, performed much worse, with Angus sitting at 20th and South Ayrshire at 30th in the ranking. Councils which did not pilot the scheme, such as Aberdeen and Glasgow, performed better than Highland with drops in referral rates of over 80 per cent. It appears, therefore, that the decline in referrals to the Children’s Panel is due to other factors, such as the fact that the police no longer routinely refer all domestic abuse cases. Moreover, the claimed benefits of the Named Person scheme in improving outcomes for children remain unproven. This suggests that a more robust evidential basis should have been established before the Scottish Government legislated for the scheme; that too cosy a relationship exists between the advocates of the scheme and Scottish Government officials; and that more attention should have been paid to dissenting voices."

Read more at:

A summary of the Children and Young People Bill Scotland by Phil Raines - Head of Child Protection Policy [ March 2013]

Concerns over child abuse cover-up

"Theresa May faces claims of a cover-up after she admitted knowing about concerns over how the child abuse inquiry was being run weeks before any official action was taken to address them."

"The Prime Minister accepted there had been `stories around` about the troubled probe when she was Home Secretary, but that it had been impossible for her to act on hearsay."

"It follows a string of resignations from the inquiry into historic child abuse allegations, including that of former chair Dame Lowell Goddard who quit earlier this year amid concerns about her professionalism and competence."

"Downing Street had said the first Ms May officially knew about concerns was in late July, but inquiry staff revealed issues were raised with the Home Office months earlier."

"After being confronted with the new information, No 10 officials admitted Ms May knew about concerns when she was still Home Secretary, some weeks before the end of July."

"Following the revelation, Labour MP Lisa Nandy said: `For far too many child abuse survivors, cover-ups, secrecy, institutions that act in denial will be far too familiar`."

"`And I’m not the first person to say that this feels like a cover-up. In fact there are a number of child abuse survivors who have been involved in the inquiry who are voicing those concerns as well`."

"Speaking to Sky News, she added: `If Theresa May is serious about allowing the truth to emerge, and for people to have confidence in this inquiry, then she needs to come clean about what she knew and when`."

Friday, 21 October 2016

The Highland Investigation and Children`s Services

I`m placing this slide from the UK Column News [21 October 2016] out of context just in case people do not want to read any further:

There will be a meeting of the Highland Investigation at the Royal Highland Hotel, Station Square, Academy Street, Inverness on Wednesday 24 October 2016 at 7pm.  Anybody who is interested in helping the investigation or who wants to find out more is welcome. David Scott will be attending.

"Right," Mike Robinson begins: "To lead into David`s stuff mainly we`re just going to highlight this little article from Demos here:
Commissioning in Children`s Services - What Works? So Demos the think tank, what are they saying? They`re saying:"

"Despite significant policy attention and political action, looked after children and children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) remain some of the most vulnerable children in the country with their later life outcomes - social, educational and health related - remaining stubbornly poor. It is no coincidence that in Ofsted`s inspections of local authority children`s services departments from November 2015 to March 2016, three-quarters were given one of the two bottom ratings: `requires improvement` or `inadequate`. These failings have profound impacts on the lives of children and young people."

"Two sets of pressures are putting children`s services departments under considerable strain. First, demand for children`s social care is rising. Between 2008 and 2015, local authorities saw a 22 per cent rise in referrals and a 16 per cent increase in the number of children in care. - That statistic alone is spectacular Brian. - It is not only the volume of demand but the kind of demand that is exerting pressure: the needs of looked after children are becoming more complex, and the introduction of Education, Health and Care plans (EHCPs), although a positive move forward, require local authorities to think more creatively about how they will meet the needs of children with SEND."

"Of course, part of the problem there is that demand particularly for children with special educational needs is being driven by the fact that extra benefits are given and there`s pressure on parents to actually register their children as requiring special educational needs. And second they say local authorities are facing continued and severe cuts to their budgets. And so what do they go on to talk about ? They basically go on to talk about the privatisation of care in children`s services. And this is particularly dangerous of course because once that type of thing ends up in private hands we get even less oversight..."

Brian Gerrish joins in: "Well, of course, at the moment some of the most vulnerable children with multiple special needs are being looked after by private companies [because they] can be earning 230, 40, 50, 60 thousand pounds a year per child. So this is big money business." David Scott is asked what he thinks about that.

"Well all these things - when you`re dealing with a government that has coercive powers of taxation - so they`re taking money essentially at the pointy end of a bayonet and then that`s being distributed, not controlled in any way by the people for their collective benefit, but being siphoned off to well connected private interests. You have really the worst of both worlds. You have all the drive of the private sector but rather than being a drive towards satisfying customers, the customers, in fact, become a commodity and their only drive is to satisfy politicians. [It] is an invitation to corruption on a vast scale."

"Now let`s start here with the Inverness Courier. Now this is going back a few years, 2011. Janitor charged with showing indecent images to pupils. Now this is an introduction to the Highland Investigation and you had a number of articles here on this particular school. School janitor is placed on sex offenders` register - the fact that children were being shown indecent cartoons and this one from the Highland News saying: Bullied girl (9) tries to strangle herself with ties."

"This is one of the first areas we have been looking at in the Highland Investigation," explains David Scott. "And we`re putting this up here today just as an indication of the sort of information we`re seeing. We`ve got a huge amount of information coming forward and we hope to have more when we meet folk next week ... in Inverness..."

"Now Ardesier is a very interesting case: one small primary school and one example. The janitor, Mr Thomas Brown, he was the janitor at more than one school. He had been showing indecent images to children in Ardesier primary school playground but it was [after] his conduct at another primary school that he was [then] charged and convicted and put on the sex offenders` register. Now the parents at Ardesier found there was no investigation or even acknowledgement publicly for what he was doing in Ardesier primary. The whole thing seemed to be hushed up. So one of the themes we`re seeing at Highland is that problems, embarrassing incidents etc, rather than having the disinfectant of sunlight, are concealed and hushed up and there is no proper investigation."

David Scott says that the reason the Highland Investigation is going back a few years is because it takes in the period 2006 to 2009 which was the time of the trial of the Named Person scheme and the GIRFEC approach. He states: "So what was happening in Highland then is being rolled out across the whole of Scotland now."

"Now the second case you mentioned there which was also at the same primary... the girl there was being very badly bullied."


"But the incident left several pupils at Ardersier Primary School traumatised, according to her mum, and Brooke has now been offered a place eight miles away at Croy Primary. But the family is still angry at education bosses who are now refusing to meet transport costs to her new school. Her mum Pauline MacGregor (36) told the Highland News: `The bullying had gone on for months and nothing was done about it despite us reporting it to the head teacher. We moved to the area in 2007 and Brooke was enrolled at Ardersier Primary. The bullying didn't start until March or April that year. It was incessant. One boy was the ring leader, but she has been targeted by both boys and girls in the class`..."

"The final straw for the family came two days before Brooke's ninth birthday when they say the youngster tried to kill herself in front of her classmates. When single mum Ms MacGregor went to school to collect her daughter, she said Brooke's teacher met her in the playground. `She was very upset. She was in tears when she told me what had happened. She said there had been an incident and explained Brooke had put a tie round her neck and was trying to choke herself.` Other pupils were standing around chanting `Go Brooke, go` and that's what alerted the teachers. `We were told her lips were blue and her teacher got a terrible shock. I just felt sick. You hear about young teenagers being driven to suicide by bullying but Brooke is only nine.`"

"Brooke's grandfather John Masson (63) said his granddaughter had no problems at her previous school before moving to Ardersier for family reasons. `We have letters from her previous head teacher describing her as a bright and happy child. But that changed since she came to Ardersier. She has some friends but now she is afraid to leave the house. We kept her off school for a few days after she tried to choke herself and the school gave her a support worker. But Brooke told us all she was asked was about her home life. She never got asked about the bullying`..."

"Education chiefs claim one of the boys accused of bullying Brooke has been excluded from the school, but Mr Masson insists that boy was not responsible for the bullying... The family have now been told a place has been found for Brooke at Croy Primary but because it is at their request they are responsible financially for her transport arrangements. Ms MacGregor is on benefits and is a carer for her father who has health problems. `We can't afford to get taxis to take her to school,` said Mr Masson. `The authorities seem to forget she is the victim here yet the boy who has caused this nightmare is still in school.` A Highland Council spokesperson said: `We cannot comment on any individual pupil's circumstances`..."


David Scott does not actually read out the emboldened section but I think it is highly relevant since the Named Person pilot was on the go at the time. It looks more like the authorities were trying to find something `on` the family rather than dealing with the bullying.

Brian Gerrish is asked by David Scott if he would be interested to hear what Her Majesty`s Inspector of Schools had to say about the school just a few months after that incident.

"Well, of course, I would be extremely interested. I may suspect I know what`s coming."

"Well here we go: Now bear in mind the scene that`s just been painted there. This is what HMIE after a thorough examination of the school said: `Children behave well in and around the school. Most are confident the school will deal effectively with any incidents of bullying. Children feel safe and valued in school and know what to do if they have any concerns. Staff have a very positive relationship with children. They`re committed to the wellbeing and support of all children and have appropriate awareness of child protection issues`. So that gives you an idea about how much you can rely upon the government, upon the state, regulating itself. This is of course garbage."

Brian Gerrish agrees: "It`s a pattern we see across the country, wherever you go. If you try to expose there`s a failing within a public body, all that happens is there`s a closing of ranks and they defend themselves."

"There`s more to come on the story of that little girl but we`ll keep that for following weeks; but actually it gets worse, the way the family was treated subsequently by the Highland Council; it gets worse."

"Well the Scottish National Party seems to be having a problem with what? What are we talking about here? - references to the holocaust?"

"Well possibly the worst judged political stunt in the history of political stunts," David Scott thinks. "And this is the very famous Brain family. You will appreciate that we all know that the Scottish government will not get involved in individual cases, except of course when they do, and they`ve got hugely involved in this case. It`s obviously been in their political interests to do so. The Brain family faced deportation having contravened the requirements of their visa. The Home Office in London it would seem was actually being quite lenient with them and trying to find a compromise but this was seized on by the Scottish National Party, made into a political issue."

"And in came Mr Brain to the Scottish National Party conference. Now bear in mind Nicola Sturgeon doesn`t get involved in individual cases. Here he is on the stage at the Scottish National Party conference and he`s wearing a little badge... memories of the holocaust. It`s yellow and it`s a diamond in this case with the letter `F` on it which he explains stands for foreigner... So it`s not subtle but I`m sure you see what they`re trying to do in terms of painting the British state as evil and themselves as good..."

"Here you have a family actually being fairly well treated over a fairly minor dispute over a visa and that`s the metaphor you go to. It`s crass; it`s embarrassing and it cheapens the political language and it coarsens the political language as well because everyone goes running around calling everyone else a Nazi and all of a sudden you don`t have any sort of exchange of ideas or examination of the facts... Mental activity closes down and it becomes simply a matter of abuse and grandstanding, which this was."

The Docherty family

"Now these points David I think we consider them in relation to the failure of the Scottish state to do anything to protect the Docherty family. As far as I know there`s no communications with the family. Can you give us a sort of update and also say what if anything Nippy Sturgeon has been doing to help the Dochertys."

"She`s done nothing to help the Dochertys. She may have been doing quite a lot to harm the Dochertys; we`re not quite sure because obviously it`s all secret; but certainly nothing to help. Now we haven`t heard from the Dochertys for three weeks. We`re getting very concerned about their safety; whether they are... ok and breathing the free air of Ireland, or not. We don`t know."

"It illustrates ... here you had a family who`ve had their four children violently seized... without any lawful excuse by a foreign state; Nicola Sturgeon does nothing. We have one family who has a minor dispute over a visa application and Nicola Sturgeon puts them on the stage at the party conference. She takes part... She leads a standing ovation as they walk on to the stage... "

"Can you imagine the impact which she could have had in the Docherty case? With that degree of power, with that degree of media attention, with that degree of focus on her; she could have stopped the Docherty case right now. She could have sorted it because if she had brought Brian and Janice Docherty on to the stage in that way, what would have happened? I tell you this, their kids would have been back very quickly... It`s almost certainly the case that the mere threat of doing that would have seen all of the government agencies involved resolve this situation."

"But she will not move; she will not act. She will not act in order to make sure that entities charged with behaving in a lawful manner are doing their job; and that`s the very excuse she`s given for acting in individual cases in the past."

Raising concerns: is it going to be enough ?

I wrote to Deputy First Minister John Swinney in September to express my concerns about the Named Person scheme and his consultation, described as an intensive engagement, which seemed to be for selected stakeholders only.

I asked for a non-generic response and this is what I got: "John Swinney has asked me to thank you for your email to his MSP account. It has been passed to his ministerial office for attention."

That was a month ago. I can`t say that I feel engaged with at all really. It`s particularly worrying given the NHS Tayside leaflet fiasco which does raise the alarm about what other unlawful practices are going on under the radar.

From the Courier:

`Named Person` debate far from over

"When the Supreme Court sent the Scottish Government back to think again on its Named Person legislation, blinkered and sometimes hysterical rhetoric was swift to be blurted out both by those who oppose the scheme and those who are in favour of it."

"It is worth remembering exactly what the most senior UK judges ruled on an act they deemed to be `unquestionably legitimate and benign` overall."

"It was decided to be incompatible with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights in relation to family life and privacy because of its information-sharing provisions. This is crucial to NHS Tayside`s decision to withdraw a leaflet informing patients data about them could be shared with other public bodies."

"The health board will now `carefully reconsider` its data sharing procedures as it looks to stay within the law whilst still able to inform relevant agencies if they feel there is a risk to a child`s wellbeing."

"If one public body is required to do this, it is more than likely others should be following suit."

"The Scottish Government has insisted the Supreme Court judgment `does not relate to current practice in relation to information sharing`."

"It had best keep its fingers crossed because NHS Tayside`s move casts doubt over this statement."

"The key aim of the Named Person law was to protect children*.  Its devil is now being pulled from the detail."


* This is misleading: Scotland already has a child protection system, now under review; so there is plenty to be worried about.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

The resilience scheme embedded in Curriulum for Excellence

Or should we call it more indoctrination of children?

As Theresa May, former Home Secretary, and now unelected UK Prime Minister has clarified: she wants to tackle non-violent extremism. Why?

As she explains about potential extremists: "They`re conducive to terrorism and can popularise views that terrorists exploit."

Obviously, non-violent extremism is a concept  difficult to define.

But that is no worry for governments - of any description - and that includes the Scottish government which has played along with the absurdity of  Theresa May`s views.

Child protection, the children`s hearing system, governance of schools, are [systems] all being transformed in Scotland at the moment to accommodate PREVENT into GIRFEC and the Named Person scheme. Everything they are doing is about managing the itsy bitsy detail of personal life.
They intend to run a very tight ship. 
I  have been challenged on my recent assertion of those facts. 
`PREVENT`, of course, is the Westminster strategy to deal with terrorism by tackling non-violent extremism before it escalates into violence.  So proactive is it, that it expects nursery carers to report on toddlers if they have suspicions about a little child`s behaviour.

As I have linked above there is a document, supported by Education Scotland, which embeds `PREVENT` within Curriculum for Excellence. Given that GIRFEC and wellbeing are at the heart of the school curriculum, it stands to reason that this resilience education, as they call it, is at the heart of the curriculum too, with the Named Person there to coordinate these government objectives.

 It`s one big surveillance system.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Regulating emotions

"A Perth dad has spoken of his upset and outrage after learning a teacher tried to fit his seven-year-old son with a bizarre electronic contraption to teach him how to `regulate his emotions`."

"Peter Nicol (43) said he was shocked and appalled to discover his son Jake, who attends Kinnoull Primary School, had been singled out and fitted with a newfangled device called an emWave Personal Stress Reliever without his knowledge or consent."

"According to the acting head teacher of the school the contraption, which monitors the user`s heart rate, was fitted to Jake so that he could `learn... strategies to calm down` when he comes `over-excited or angry`."

"In emails to Jake`s parents, seen by the PA, Kathryn Dalrymple explained the machine `shows a visual representation of how children are feeling eg. red for angry/anxious/upset and green for happy/calm/relaxed`."

"The purpose is for Jake to recognise how it feels when he is displaying red emotions and, furthermore, to discuss strategies to alleviate these feelings,` she said."

"But Mr Nicol, an agricultural worker who lives in Bridgend, told the PA that Jake was so upset when one of his teachers, a Mrs Marshall, removed him from his class and tried to use the device on him that when he returned home from school that day he locked himself away in his room."

Can you imagine what it is going to be like when head teachers get control of school budgets?

The crises in child protection

The video begins about 06.40 minutes:

The presenter introduces the discussion with: "The Scottish Government has set the aim for Scotland to be the best place to grow up in. but there is a long way to go before they achieve that. There`s big issues like tackling poverty, providing housing, education, nutrition and play space....But another issue that`s been dominating discussion about children in Scotland over the last month is Named Person. I`m sure you`ve all seen the crazy coverage we`ve had in the media over that ... In Commonspace it`s probably been the most debated subject in our opinion section."

Well, it`s good that people are forming their opinion about it, although she does not explain what she means by `crazy coverage.` What has been really crazy is that we did not have this coverage in the media before our MSPs voted for it in the Scottish parliament. Now we have John Swinney insisting that we must have a watered down version of it.

"So are we improving wellbeing or are we creating a climate of fear?" is the topic.

First to speak is independent social worker Maggie Mellon who supports the idea that social workers have become very scary people. This is followed by Professor Andrew Bilson who quotes some very worrying statistics to show that child protection is headed in the wrong direction.

"What we`re seeing internationally is crises after crises in child protection. It doesn`t really matter where you look in the English speaking world ... I hear in the last week there`s been headlines here in Glasgow about the numbers of children getting drawn into the child protection system."

"These issues are really crucial and they`re crucial because what`s happening in society is more and more children are being treated as if they`re being abused when actually they`re poor..."

"And I think what we`ve got is a perfect storm."

"More and more social work is about risk. And risk is something that gets easily defined, easily upgraded. It`s very easy to say that somebody`s at risk."

"In new policies coming out in 19 local authorities in England virtually every child under six months will be classified as being at risk. Risk is a really tricky, problematic concept."

"But we`ve also got austerity and cuts in services and cuts in benefits. Now that affects people. We`ve got massive inequality and growing poverty not just in the UK but across the whole of the world..."

"It isn`t the sexual abuse that we keep hearing about that`s behind all the child protection investigations; it`s domestic abuse and neglect. And neglect is very hard to differentiate from poverty."

"I don`t know what the figures [for adoption] are in Scotland but I do know that you`ve got more children in out-of-home care than either England, Wales or Northern Ireland per head of population..."

"In England, ... twenty two and a half percent of all children under five have been referred to social services before their fifth birthday. Not all of them were about abuse. About one in nine of them were about abuse. In one local authority by the time children are 6 that figure goes up to 27 percent. What`s it going to be by the time they`re 16?"

What`s it going to be in Scotland by the time a child is eighteen if there is a Named Person hovering around the young person worrying about a risk to wellbeing?

See also