Liz Smith: ‘State guardians’ unwanted intrusion

Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith. Picture: Contributed
Scottish Conservative MSP Liz Smith. Picture: Contributed
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NAMED and shamed – new policy for ‘state guadians’ is an unwanted and unwelcome intrusion into normal family life, argues Liz Smith

It IS little wonder that parents across Scotland are starting to rebel against the SNP’s scheme to introduce a named person for every young person under 18.

The policy – a state guardian – goes against every grain of normal family life.

In the first instance, parents find the idea that the state knows how to bring up their children better than they do repugnant. It is both insulting and patronising.

Also, they do not understand why, if their child and their family is not experiencing any difficulty, they should be forced to have a Named Person when the money would be much better spent on helping children who really are vulnerable.

But the most sinister aspect for many people is the fact that confidential information about their family will be shared between professionals, sometimes without parental consent. Take the case, highlighted in the media, of the Aberdeenshire mother who found out that her child had been taken out of class and subjected to a long list of intrusive questions about her family’s home life. Then there is the couple who live near Falkirk with four children. They’ve been told that all their children’s confidential medical reports have been sent to a Named Person even although they do not know who the Named Person is.

Not surprisingly, more and more are becoming increasingly angry and want to know why they weren’t given any opportunity to opt out.

They know that the police, teachers, social workers and health visitors are all increasingly concerned and they fully understand why councils such as the City of Edinburgh are very worried about what this might mean for them. By stretching their already tight resources, they argue, quite rightly, that attention will be diverted away from genuine cases of neglect and abuse. Would it not be far better to expand the highly valued and trusted health visitor system rather than force all families to have a state guardian which no-one wants?

Some MSPs, who initially backed the legislation, are now having second thoughts. Named Persons have been a PR disaster for the Scottish Government. The creators of this policy are living in cloud cuckoo land and the best thing the SNP can do now is scrap it altogether.

• Liz Smith MSP is Scottish Conservative young people spokeswoman