This letter from a Schoolhouse member to MSPs, urging rejection of the data mining and named person provisions within the Children and Young People Bill which is expected to be nodded through at Holyrood tomorrow, is reproduced below with the author’s permission. It does not necessarily reflect the views of Schoolhouse, but judging by their comments, the 2790 people who have now signed our petition would appear to concur with its sentiments.

Dear  MSP

Re: CHYP Bill / Graveheart

Since we both know that my raising concerns with you is almost as pointless an exercise as bothering to vote in elections, I won’t waste too much of your time or mine.

Just for the record, I am writing to urge you to vote against the CHYP Bill on Wednesday since its provisions for routine data gathering and sharing and the compulsory imposition of a named person on every child in Scotland with no opt-out breach both Article 8 of the ECHR and the UK Data Protection Act.  I have yet to see the Scottish Government’s legal advice, if indeed it exists

It is abhorrent to me that the Government and any right minded MSP should consider such provisions to be remotely acceptable in a free society and inconceivable that they should have ignored the advice of senior counsel and a myriad of legal and social work experts, while completely dismissing the views of parents, children and young people who do not want their privacy routinely invaded. So much for getting it right for every child; but that’s not what GIRFEC is about and never has been. Getting Information Recorded For Every Citizen is a much more accurate description.

I feel obliged to bring to your attention the fact that Bill Alexander has gone on record as claiming there have been no complaints by parents in Highland about GIRFEC and the named person when I have personally been copied a catalogue of such complaints. He is quoted as saying: “The system has been operating formally for four years, and in that time not a single parent has raised any concerns [about it being intrusive].” Did he file all these parental complaints under ‘misunderstandings’, or were they just binned for convenience? Complainants who have been effectively silenced by Mr Alexander’s refusal to acknowledge serious concerns about the abuse of power by named persons and other professionals contend that misleading the public in this way amounts to gross misconduct. Having seen the nature of these complaints, it is difficult to disagree, but dissembling would appear to be part of the job description for any aspiring GIRFEC Gauleiter.

Then there are the cheerleading children’s charities with their all consuming vested interests in obtaining public funding for forcing services on families (such as the discredited Triple P in Glasgow) who have provided no reliable evidence of the ‘success’ of GIRFEC and simply concocted and delivered policy-based evidence for their paymasters. Well they would, wouldn’t they? Reporting on a small sample of children already known to be at risk or to have additional support needs (for whom joined up working with consent is already known to work well, assuming it is properly resourced), rather than including every child (or at least ensuring a representative cross section of Highland children and families) in the sample does not make the case for GIRFEC; indeed it does the opposite and suggests that it is the targeting of resources that brings optimum benefit.

As you may know, the Isle of Man has had to ditch a similar scheme in the wake of social work meltdown and an admission that their non consensual data gathering and sharing below the child protection threshold was both unlawful (as established in the Haringey case) and deeply damaging to children and families. The Welsh Assembly has also inserted a clause into its own Wellbeing Bill to expressly prohibit data mining without informed consent. Perhaps their legal advice didn’t come on the back of a fag packet and their research evidence wasn’t fatally flawed?

Suffice to say I’ll not be bothering to vote in the referendum thanks to this debacle of a Bill and I am aware of many former yes voters who will now be voting no. On the face of it, the UK does appear currently to offer the children and families of Scotland marginally better protection from data rape: “the sort of thing Hitler talked about”, as Tony Benn put it.

I had expected better from the Scottish Government and am bitterly disappointed in all those MSPs (including the hypocritical sorts who squealed so loudly about ID cards) who have either failed to recognise, or are complicit in, this blatant attack on civil liberties, parents’ and children’s rights. The consequences of allowing this Bill to pass are going to be dire for those children and parents who are crying out for support and potentially fatal for the most vulnerable, who will be lost in a sea of false flags while their named persons wrestle with resolute refuseniks and scores of subject access requests (if they aren’t off sick, on leave or otherwise unavailable).

Congratulations on consigning the Declaration of Arbroath to the shredder. At 700 years old, it is obviously deemed past its sell by date by those who know best for themselves and everyone else. Freedom appears to have been well and truly dumped in favour of glory, riches and honours for the few.

“Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victim may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” ~ C.S. Lewis

See you in the Supreme Court.

Yours sincerely

A. Constituent