Sunday, 23 January 2011

Unfortunate turn of phrase, Mr Narey?

"If we are absolutely clear that a child will be significantly better off if they are taken away from their parents, then we have to do that."

I know there are a small number of children from a range of social backgrounds who are tragically living in unbearable circumstances of cruelty and neglect with their birth parents, and of course I wouldn't argue with anyone who wanted to offer them an improvement to their lives, but I usually hear the term 'better off' in purely financial contexts.

In fact, a person could be forgiven for wondering whether outgoing Barnados chief Martin Narey has been in conversation recently with the Labour MP Graham Allen, who has recently published a report about early intervention into children's lives.

Mr Allen has the grace to say in his report: "It is not just about money," which is good, because I can think of some children of relatively affluent parents who might be emotionally "better off" in more caring, albeit economically poorer environments - if we're going to try to play God with people's 'life chances'.

It's not just about money. It shouldn't be even about money. Are these people - these men in high places - seeking to create a rich/poor apartheid in the official treatment of British families? If you're sufficiently wealthy, you get to be left alone, but if your income is below average then you can expect your child to have to undergo an early intervention programme? Your two year old child, who is essentially still your baby?

I know some people hold deeply anti-family beliefs. Through their own unfortunate childhood experiences, or some misguided Brave New World ideas about political utopia, they'd prefer any issue of the great unwashed to be surgically removed to a quiet, ordered place of unemotional clinical sterility, where it can be summarily cleansed of any potential lack of productivity and other irritating traits and I wouldn't like to put Messrs Narey or Allen into this bracket without further knowledge of them.

But I think, through their use of such unfortunate phrases, they might be in danger of straying uncomfortably close to it.

(More about the Allen report from Pete Darby here.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, Gill, stop being so amazingly marvellous please.


23 January 2011 at 11:17  
Blogger Sheila said...

Great to have you back Gill :)

Subrosa kindly hosted a post on early intervention of of mine recently:

The Scottish surveillance scandal has recently been exposed been eloquently exposed by old School investigative reporter Kenneth Roy.

I have posted all the recent coverage on this thread:

Please don't be fooled into thinking this is just a Scottish issue...

23 January 2011 at 13:20  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks you two. I can't help wondering how much of this early intervention stuff springs from crime of poverty ideology, and/or whether one of its underlying motivations is to panic us all into trying to earn (and therefore spend) more money.

23 January 2011 at 18:06  
Blogger Sheila said...

It's about evaluating us all as human capital, Fabian Society style:

23 January 2011 at 23:52  
Blogger Vanilla Rose said...

There already is a rich/poor apartheid, as shown by the existence of property for rent ads which specify "No DSS, no dogs". Are we supposed to feel better that people in poverty, who may be ill, are excluded instead of there being a race or colour bar?

24 January 2011 at 13:22  
Blogger Gill said...

Thanks Sheila. Adding that to my 'to watch' pile.

Vanilla Rose, I think people somehow appease their consciences about the 'No DSS' thing etc by rationalising poverty as a lifestyle choice - which, I suppose, it can be although it obviously isn't in many cases.

One thing I can't understand is how a DSS pound is any less spendable than any other kind of pound. It's not, so 'No DSS' is an expression of prejudice, pure and simple.

24 January 2011 at 13:30  
Blogger Sheila said...

I see he has letter in the FT today:

25 January 2011 at 10:32  

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