Named Person is a policy that needs to be dropped, not redrafted
Everyone whether for or against ‘Named Person’ wants to improve child welfare and safety. This is a starting observation that I find gets all too quickly lost in any discussion about the merits and demerits of the scheme. But following the Supreme Court ruling that NP in its current drafting is illegal, it is time to highlight the scheme’s many demerits.
I have broken the broad question of my opposition to NP down into different sections. Some may overlap with each other, but I hope I’ve set out my rationale for opposing the scheme.
Privacy and the family life
NP will allow the state unlimited access into a parents home. This is completely unacceptable, a prime example of state overreach and state intrusion.
The named person (or ‘state guardian’) will have unlimited right of access to confidential information about the family. Parents don’t need consulted, a stranger will have free access to their confidential information. It is worth noting this aspect of the NP policy has been found illegal by the Supreme Court. This kind of free access to confidential information has been found to breech ECHR rules.
Thus NP is actually an illegal scheme from the point of view of privacy and information sharing.
Something I find most objectionable is the mandatory nature of the scheme. Every child will have a ‘state guardian’ (NP). Teachers will have to accept the role of NP, as if they aren’t already busy enough.
Teachers are unhappy at having the huge responsibilities associating with being a NP dumped on them. In some of the NP trial schemes already in operation in Scotland, NP teachers have more than one child they’re ‘guardian’ for.
It beggars belief that the SNP are surprised that teachers resent being forced to be state guardians. It is unbelievable that the SNP were unaware that parents are furious at being forced to register their newborns with NP.
It all suggests the SNP are out of step with public opinion on this one. Named Person could become a turning point for them, a policy which alienates their party from the wider electorate.
When centre-right people discuss the concept of ‘state’ or ‘governmental’ overreach it is typically a theoretical one. A chat about the possible dystopia an all-too-powerful state can lead to. But with NP we actually have a concrete example of just how creepy over-sized government can be.
One piece of Government guidance says a Named Person has “responsibility for overall monitoring of the child’s wellbeing and outcomes”. This is the role of a parent.
When the state is proposing a policy which effectively removes the job of raising and caring for their kids from their parents, this should be alarming. At no point should it ever be thought acceptable for a parental duty of care nurture of their kids to be removed from them. Put it simply, a government program should not have the job of overall responsibility for a kids development; that is the purview of parents.
NP dilutes the resources which are available by forcing the state to monitor the ‘happiness’ and ‘wellbeing’ of every child in Scotland. Not just the kids described as ‘most at risk’, everyone. Given that state resources are finite, this is a shocking misdirecting of resources. The priority for the SNP government should be at ‘most at risk’ kids, not forcing its nose into the private family lives of every kid in Scotland.
Time will be spent filling in forms for dozens of children at no risk, this is time that could be better spent on those children in need of help.
The Named Person Scheme is a mess. It is currently illegal, and is a massive invasion of privacy. Coupled with that it takes time, focus and resources away from genuinely at risk kids by widening the net to include every kid in Scotland. Finally its definition of the ‘job’ of the state guardian is comic – how exactly does the SNP propose to measure the ‘happiness’ of every child in Scotland? NP is a poor excuse for a policy, and it needs to be scrapped altogether. Time for the SNP to go back to the drawing board with this one.
If you share my opposition to NP, join the NO2NP campaign.