UK Supreme Court Strikes Down The SNP’s Unlawful Named Person Scheme

Nicola Sturgeon - SNP - Named Person Scheme - Supreme Court

The UK Supreme Court slaps down the SNP-led Scottish Government’s assault on privacy and individual liberty manifested in the evil Named Person scheme, citing the creeping threat of totalitarianism

Good news from the UK Supreme Court today, which has made an important decision in favour of civil liberties and privacy by ruling the SNP government’s insidious “Named Person” child-monitoring scheme unlawful, giving Holyrood no recourse to further appeal.

Specifically the Supreme Court struck down provisions which allowed the sharing of sensitive data about Scottish children between agencies, which the court held to be in breach of the right to privacy and a family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court further held that several of the provisions for data sharing in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 were beyond the legislative competence of the Scottish Government – in other words that Nicola Sturgeon’s nationalist government has been getting far too big for its boots, and should perhaps focus on trying to deliver better governance for Scotland instead of greedily seeking to acquire ever more power over its own citizens.

What is most encouraging about this ruling – besides Nicola Sturgeon being put firmly back in her box, of course – is the strong, uncompromising language used by the justices in their decision.

From the judgment:

Individual differences are the product of the interplay between the individual person and his upbringing and environment. Different upbringings produce different people. The first thing that a totalitarian regime tries to do is to get at the children, to distance them from the subversive, varied influences of their families, and indoctrinate them in their rulers’ view of the world. Within limits, families must be left to bring up their children in their own way.

The justices then go on to quote the late US supreme court justice James Clark McReynolds, who held in Pierce v Society of Sisters:

“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the state to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”

The child is not the mere creature of the state – a universal truth, but one seemingly forgotten by the Scottish National Party in their paranoid desire to centralise and monitor everything that takes place north of the border.

This is a remarkable tirade against totalitarianism and in favour of individual liberty, and can only be seen as a stunning repudiation of the SNP’s entire suffocating, infantilising attitude towards their own citizens. To warn about the slippery slope toward totalitarianism in such an clear way only serves to underscore just how illiberal – and vastly disconnected from the welfare of the child – the Named Person scheme really is.

What is even more remarkable is that such a start warning against totalitarian instincts came not from a mainstream elected politician, but from unelected judges. In its short history, the UK Supreme Court’s judgments have not exactly set the world on fire or shifted numerous copies of approving books in the way that one might pore over the dissents of Ruth Bader Ginsburg or the late Antonin Scalia. That mild-mannered UK supreme court justices are mentioning totalitarianism and quoting McReynolds at all is proof that we are in trouble.

In their reporting, the British press has been making much of the fact that the ruling later goes on to call the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 “unquestionably benign”. In their article, the BBC makes no mention of these pointed references to totalitarianism in the judgment, immediately revealing the corporation’s bias and reluctance to report properly on stories which are critical of the authoritarian leftist Scottish government.

But as it was with the shock Brexit vote in the EU referendum, once again the media’s barely concealed support for infantilising, authoritarian Big Government policies has been overridden. In this case, the supreme court has spoken (though how much better it would have been had the Supreme Court been able to strike down the Named Person Act with reference to a British Bill of Rights or constitution rather than the expansionist ECHR).

As this blog noted when the Named Person scheme was last being debated prior to the 2016 Holyrood elections:

Whether any given Scottish person wants their top layer of government to reside in Holyrood or Westminster, surely anybody should agree that the bottom layer of government should not intrude deep into the family unit in the way that the Named Person Scheme does.

[..] This is the SNP at work in government. A hectoring, overbearing movement which seeks to centralise everything they can touch, from the state monitoring of children to the police and fire services – with deadly consequences, in the latter cases.

Today, a blow has been struck against the insidious ratchet effect underway in Britain, leading inexorably to a larger and more interfering state. We should be grateful to the Supreme Court for their decision, and to The Christian Institute and other appellants for fighting the case.

But it should not fall to an unelected judiciary to make the bold and uncompromising case for individual liberty. Ruth Davidson did a magnificent job opposing the Named Person scheme on behalf of the Scottish Tories, but we need more politicians across the board who are willing to stand up for liberty and who possess the imagination to conceive of a world where government is not the answer to every single problem.

The Supreme Court did us proud today. It is about time for more of our elected politicians to do the same.

 

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Social Justice Commandments: Being A Good Parent Perpetuates Unfair Privilege

Bedtime Story

The warped philosophy of social justice decrees that good parents are part of the problem, not the solution

For more evidence of the sickness at the heart of our universities, I present the professor from Warwick University – my alma mater – who thinks that parents who read to their children are gifting them with unfair privilege over other kids whose parents are too busy watching Britain’s Celebrity Animals Bake-Off On Ice to lavish their own children with similar attention.

From the ABC summary of the segment on Australian radio:

[Professor Adam] Swift in particular has been conflicted for some time over the curious situation that arises when a parent wants to do the best for her child but in the process makes the playing field for others even more lopsided.

‘I got interested in this question because I was interested in equality of opportunity,’ he says.

‘I had done some work on social mobility and the evidence is overwhelmingly that the reason why children born to different families have very different chances in life is because of what happens in those families.’

Once he got thinking, Swift could see that the issue stretches well beyond the fact that some families can afford private schooling, nannies, tutors, and houses in good suburbs. Functional family interactions—from going to the cricket to reading bedtime stories—form a largely unseen but palpable fault line between families. The consequence is a gap in social mobility and equality that can last for generations.

Already this sounds ominous. And though Swift gets his mention of “equality of opportunity” in nice and early, the draconian means by which he wants to achieve this equality are quite something to behold:

‘What we realised we needed was a way of thinking about what it was we wanted to allow parents to do for their children, and what it was that we didn’t need to allow parents to do for their children, if allowing those activities would create unfairnesses for other people’s children’.

The test they devised was based on what they term ‘familial relationship goods’; those unique and identifiable things that arise within the family unit and contribute to the flourishing of family members.

For Swift, there’s one particular choice that fails the test.

‘Private schooling cannot be justified by appeal to these familial relationship goods,’ he says. ‘It’s just not the case that in order for a family to realise these intimate, loving, authoritative, affectionate, love-based relationships you need to be able to send your child to an elite private school.’

Note what Swift has done here. First of all, he posits a dystopian world where “we” have any right to “allow” parents to do certain things or raise their children in certain ways, the corollary to which is that these mystical external authority figures also have the power to prohibit parents from engaging in certain everyday activities.

But worse, he has made an arbitrary judgement with relationship to these “familial relationship goods”. You might think that it is up to individual parents and families to decide what is good for their young ones, or what is most needed to ensure that they thrive and become well-rounded, successful people. But you would be wrong. Because Adam Swift has a definitive list of all the things needed to create a well-behaved, social justice loving adult, and private schooling ain’t on the list.

And that’s when it gets really crazy:

In contrast, reading stories at bedtime, argues Swift, gives rise to acceptable familial relationship goods, even though this also bestows advantage.

‘The evidence shows that the difference between those who get bedtime stories and those who don’t—the difference in their life chances—is bigger than the difference between those who get elite private schooling and those that don’t,’ he says.

This devilish twist of evidence surely leads to a further conclusion—that perhaps in the interests of levelling the playing field, bedtime stories should also be restricted. In Swift’s mind this is where the evaluation of familial relationship goods goes up a notch.

‘You have to allow parents to engage in bedtime stories activities, in fact we encourage them because those are the kinds of interactions between parents and children that do indeed foster and produce these [desired] familial relationship goods.’

How gracious of Swift, allowing parents to continue to read to their children at bedtime, even though the unfair privilege they bestow by doing so eats away at his enlightened, equality-loving soul.

Swift continues:

‘We could prevent elite private schooling without any real hit to healthy family relationships, whereas if we say that you can’t read bedtime stories to your kids because it’s not fair that some kids get them and others don’t, then that would be too big a hit at the core of family life.’

So should parents snuggling up for one last story before lights out be even a little concerned about the advantage they might be conferring?

‘I don’t think parents reading their children bedtime stories should constantly have in their minds the way that they are unfairly disadvantaging other people’s children, but I think they should have that thought occasionally,’ quips Swift.

So by all means continue to read to your children, if you must. But you should feel very guilty while you do so, and chastise yourself once little Timmy has fallen asleep, while meditating on the various ways he will grow up to oppress those unfortunate children whose parents did not read to them.

Which, of course, is the one thing missing from Adam Swift’s “analysis” – any thought or mention of the parents who do not read to their children. As with everything else in the victimhood-soaked world of social justice, where everything must be viewed through a lens of privilege and oppression, only those who work hard and do the right thing are subject to criticism. Those who do the wrong thing, by contrast, are continually excused and stripped of any agency for their own actions – a condescending behaviour which actually does more to dehumanise them than any “harm” they incur from the privileged.

In the entire segment, Swift has no words of reproach for those parents who do not read to their children at bedtime. He neither suggests that this might be through their own fault, or that they need to anything to rectify the situation. It is simply taken as a given that they will continue to be bad parents, helpless to modify their behaviour, and that the only thing society can do in response is to worsen the overall standard of parenting in order to prevent the worst parents from feeling bad or experiencing the consequences of their own actions.

And this, right here, is at the root of our society’s decay. We now simply accept and nod our heads while academics airily consider how best to bring everyone down to the same, lower level of attainment rather than striving to confer as many of the benefits currently enjoyed by the rich (or those with good parents) on all. The insidious Cult of Social Justice and Identity Politics has done its work well, because many of us now look at inequality and feel the instinct to tear the successful down (or at least actively thwart their rise) rather than building others up.

Fortunately, Adam Swift is not about to be given wide-ranging power over how people raise their children. But it is worth noting the type of outcomes which one might get when beady-eyed authoritarianism (where external authority figures “allow” graciously parents to do things) meets the warped Social Justice view of inequality.

For so long as these ideas remain abstract discussions between philosophers, there is limited real-world harm. But when more young people who have percolated in this environment all through university start entering the job market and getting themselves elected to local and national government, we will have a real problem on our hands.

In Britain, the Labour Party is already very hostile to the idea of private schools, while many in the Conservative Party are themselves quite paternalistic and keen for the state to regulate behaviour. And while neither party has not yet succeeded in shoehorning government fully into the parent-child relationship (except for Scotland, where the SNP is making a game attempt at taking over from parents), it may well be only a matter of time.

 

Bedtime Stories

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The Named Person Scheme Is Proof That The SNP Does Not Believe In Liberty

Opposing the SNP’s draconian Named Person Scheme is a smart, principled move for the Scottish Tories

By making the Scottish Conservative Party’s opposition to the totalitarian Named Person Scheme a centre-piece of their Holyrood election campaign, once again Ruth Davidson is distinguishing herself as one of the only sane and vaguely liberty-loving politicians in the whole of Scotland.

The Telegraph reports:

Ruth Davidson has said that scrapping the SNP’s plan to assign every child a state guardian has become the most urgent Holyrood election priority for Scottish voters with nine days of campaigning left and grandparents are leading the charge against it.

In an interview with the Telegraph, she said many families were unaware of the Named Person scheme when the election campaign started a month ago but it is now the issue on the doorstep that inflames the most passion and outrage – even more so than independence.

She said that grandparents are particularly furious that their sons and daughters are being subjected to “state snoopers”, when they were not, and pledged the Scottish Tories would immediately demand the scheme be brought back before parliament if they succeed in becoming the main opposition party.

They have every right to be furious. Whether any given Scottish person wants their top layer of government to reside in Holyrood or Westminster, surely anybody should agree that the bottom layer of government should not intrude deep into the family unit in the way that the Named Person Scheme does.

Nicola Sturgeon is busily trying to spin the suggestion that this is a purely voluntary scheme, which utterly fails the common sense test – why have a scheme supposedly designed to protect children from the most broken and dysfunctional families, when only well behaved (and rather too obedient) families would ever voluntarily sign up? For there to be any point at all to the legislation, it has to be universal and compulsory.

As Ruth Davidson points out in the exchange shown in the video above, the Scottish Conservatives tabled an amendment to the original bill trying to seek an opt-out for parents, but were overridden by the SNP.

Key quote:

Ruth Davidson: Can I remind the chamber that the Scottish Conservatives laid specific amendments to the bill allowing parents to opt out of the Named Person Scheme, and those amendments were voted down by her party, and shouted down by her minister who said such state guardians were to be a universal service.

Every child, from birth to eighteen, with a Named Person attached. A Named Person with access to private and sensitive information, all recorded in a database, and able to be accessed without the consent or even the knowledge of the parents in some cases.

If the Named Person Scheme is truly voluntary, why fight so hard to defeat a motion establishing a parental opt-out? The answer, of course, is that the scheme being rolled out this year is not voluntary in the slightest.

It appears that Sturgeon is playing fast and loose with the truth, portraying the fact that parents can choose not to engage with their child’s Named Person as being the same thing as not having a Named Person assigned in the first place. But of course these are two very different things. Even if a parent rightly chooses not to engage with this overbearing arm of the state, the Named Person is still there, working away in the background, able to view all manner of sensitive data and information about the child with no recourse for the parents.

This is the SNP at work in government. A hectoring, overbearing movement which seeks to centralise everything they can touch, from the state monitoring of children to the police and fire services – with deadly consequences, in the latter cases.

Heading into the Holyrood elections, Scottish voters need to understand that there is nothing pro-liberty about supporting the Scottish National Party. While Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP may hold out the carrot of independence from Westminster, the only change which Scottish people will feel in their daily lives is an emboldened, empowered independent Scottish government taking even more powers away from the individual and vesting them in the SNP’s monolithic nanny state.

The Named Person Scheme is a shot across the bows. There could well be far worse to come from the SNP.

 

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A Plan For Every Stage Of Your Life

David Cameron - Parenting Classes - Plan for every stage of your life - Coke Zero Conservatism

David Cameron’s rootless Conservative government is casting around, finding ever more ways to shoehorn the state into our lives

Buried in all the talk of Brexit and Bowie this week has been the Prime Minister’s announcement that he intends to force every British parent to take state-run classes in parenting – if not on pain of criminal penalty then at least at the sharp end of some pointed fiscal incentives.

The Telegraph reports:

All parents should enrol in state-backed parenting classes to learn how to raise their children properly, David Cameron will say as he announces a new plan to stop families breaking up.

[..] He will use a major speech on Monday to set out proposals for a new voucher system to incentivise parents to attend the classes in an attempt to make parenting advice socially “normal” and even “aspirational”.

The Prime Minister’s plan comes as he announces a £70 million investment in relationship counselling to prevent hundreds of thousands of families splitting up over the next five years.

Mr Cameron’s speech marks the latest step in delivering on the Conservatives’ key election promise to help families at every stage of life.

So here we are. The man who lets his daughter be carried around in a Waitrose bag in the Downing Street gardens – when he isn’t accidentally leaving her behind at the pub – thinks that the rest of the country make such bad parents that what they really need is a big, heaped spoonful of big government medicine to set them straight.

One does not have to deny that family breakdown and – how to put it – “unaspirational” parenting have real, negative consequences in our society to balk at the notion of government run classes enforcing the childrearing fads of the day on first time parents.

And Cameron is not even targeting potentially troubled familes – that would be far too judgemental. No, these classes will be “made available” to all, because children “don’t come with a manual” and apparently what has worked for parents for thousands of years is suddenly insufficient to the task of raising a child in twenty-first century Britain.

Dr. Ellie Lee retorts in Spiked magazine:

As parents well know, it is one thing to seek out genuine expertise and help when a child has specific problems (for example, parents of a sick or disabled child will do everything they can to get help from doctors and find all the advice possible to make their child’s life better). But it is quite another to imagine that parents want to be taught the supposedly general skill of parenting. Rather, being a parent means taking on the responsibility for trying, experimenting, failing and learning from experience over and over again. And parents find that the best people to support them in their childraising are those in their family and local community.

… [This] episode shows how a belief in parental determinism, justified through neuro-nonsense, generates a policy programme based on the idea that raising children is just too important and difficult to be left to mere parents, their families and their communities. Those who hold an a priori belief in the need for parenting education simply cannot accept that parents may neither need nor want expert advice. The only conclusion they draw is that more must be done to find ways to train parents, and to increase parents’ ‘demand’ for their own training. Furthermore, they openly support the idea that taking babies away from their mothers is a way to ‘alter destinies’ and ‘improve life chances’.

Policymakers and a parasitical layer of third-sector organisations, whose claim to expertise and professional status lies in knowing how to improve others’ ‘relationships’, are telling us nothing about parents and the family. And it’s not just parents who lose through the relentless politicisation of parenting, and, by association, the private sphere; it’s all of us.

How long, one wonders, until David Cameron seizes upon that totalitarian idea from north of the border, and seeks to introduce a Scottish-style Named Person scheme in England and Wales, whereby a specified adult named by the government is placed in a position of co-responsibility, together with the parents, for the welfare of every newborn child?

Don’t think he wouldn’t do it. If we have learned nothing else about David Cameron since he came to power in 2010, we know that there is no conservative, small government principle which he is not happy to cast into the woodchipper if it helps him to dominate the political centre ground and atone for the supposed reputational sins of Thatcherism.

Never mind that the Named Person scheme was cooked up by Nicola Sturgeon’s swivel-eyed SNP government in Scotland, and is the complete antithesis to how a restrained state should behave. That won’t stop David Cameron if he spies an opportunity to undermine the nationalists, steal a march on the Labour Party and gain short-term tactical political advantage.

But that doesn’t make it good policy, good politics or the right thing for any party calling itself “conservative” to be doing. Who within the Conservative Party – James Cleverley, Chris Philp, Lucy Allan, David Nuttall? – will stand against this creeping tide of paternalism, one which is otherwise likely to be implemented unopposed given that both sides of the warring Labour Party would probably also approve?

Mandatory parenting classes as part of your masterplan for every stage of our lives?

Dear God, man, stop talking. You sound more socialist than Jeremy Corbyn.

No to Named Person Scheme

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Coca-Cola: Where The War On Christmas Meets The War On Sugar

Coca Cola Christmas Truck - 2

The solution to the obesity crisis lies with adults and parents, not the nanny state

What happens when the War on Christmas meets the War on Sugar?

We are about to find out. On 17 December, the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck (from the famous television commercials) will roll into Leicester on the final stop of its UK tour, bringing holiday refreshment to boys and girls in the Midlands. A lovely festive occasion, you might think.

Wrong. According to the League of Virtue-Signalling Health Nuts*, the Coca-Cola Christmas Truck is a menace, bringing nothing but dental cavities and Type II diabetes to the hapless people of Leicester – innocent and impressionable souls who have no option but to ceaselessly guzzle from any can of carbonated toxicity placed within arm’s reach. Yes, Evil Santa is on his way to waterboard your kids with unwanted soda.

Leading the moralising charge against Coca-Cola is Keith Vaz, who thinks that sugary drinks belong in a locked cupboard under the sink, next to household bleach and drain cleaner. From the BBC:

Keith Vaz insists he does not want to be a “killjoy”, but said the truck would send the wrong message in a city where Type 2 diabetes is rising and a third of children have tooth decay.

He predicts people will protest if the truck does come to the city.

[..] “I know people like special things happening at Christmas, but Coca-Cola are coming to promote their product and in each can of Coke there are seven teaspoons of sugar,” he said.

Meet sugar, the new asbestos.

Of course Keith Vaz has form when it comes to demonising Coca-Cola. The MP for Leicester East also protested loudly against the company’s sponsorship of the London Eye, on the basis that the presence of a red-hued circle on the London skyline would instantly hypnotise Londoners into a soda-consuming trance. Really, it’s beyond parody.

This is just the latest in a long line of attempts to get the already over-active British nanny state to regulate such things as how much sugar we consume, how and where we enjoy tobacco, when we are allowed to gamble and even when we can shop.

Just last month, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver gave evidence to a parliamentary health committee and called for a “sugar tax” to stop all of us uneducated plebs from getting too carried away with the Mars bars and sugary beverages (Oliver himself only uses Moral Sugar in his recipes and chain restaurants, naturally).

But an ostentatious concern for public health is only part of the story. Leicester also hosts one of Europe’s latest Diwali celebrations, where it is traditional to hand out – you guessed it – Indian sweets. Unsurprisingly, nobody is seeking to cancel Diwali or launching a public campaign aimed at Hindus, encouraging them to swap the gulab jamun for carrot sticks – because Diwali is not a global corporation, and many of the sweets are home made.

No, the protests against the Coca-Cola Christmas truck are sadly just another case of left-wing virtue-signalling. Keith Vaz and most of the protesters know deep down that the only way to tackle the obesity crisis is for adults and parents to exercise greater responsibility over what they feed themselves and their children, sometimes facilitated by better and more accessible education. But that’s just too dull, so instead they have to invent the menace of the Great American Corporate Bogeyman coming to give our children diabetes as yet another excuse to suck the joy out of life.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a glass or two of Coca-Cola, especially at Christmas. What’s really dangerous is treating grown adults and teenagers like mindless lemmings liable to developing a soda addiction at the mere sight of a big red truck. But because people like Keith Vaz derive their power and authority from presuming to tell us how to behave, we can only expect more such finger-wagging, faux-outraged protests in the future.

Maybe better to send the Coca-Cola Christmas Armoured Personnel Carrier to Leicester in place of the truck this year, just in case things turn ugly.

* Not (yet) a real organisation.

Coca Cola Christmas Truck

First published at Conservatives for Liberty

Conservatives for Liberty are holding a lobby evening on Wednesday
25th November called Forgive us our Trespasses: The moral case for
choice and responsibility. This event gives you the opportunity to
hear from a number of MPs about why they believe in individual choice,
and to ask them any pressing questions you may have.

The evening will focus on freedom of choice and the belief that adults
should be free to weigh pleasure and risk and decide for themselves
when it comes to products such as cigarettes, e-cigarettes, alcohol,
and fatty or sugary foods. You can read more about the evening here.

If you want to attend, you will need to RSVP by emailing
stephen@con4lib.com. This event will be held in parliament, and the
details of the Committee Room will be sent to people who sign up. We
have a limited capacity, so you are encouraged to RSVP soon.

In the spirit of freedom of choice, and in true Conservatives for
Liberty style, there will be drinks after the event in a nearby pub.

Further details and updates can be found on our Facebook event here.

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