Dec. 2nd, 2008

peterbirks: (Default)
There was an interesting statistic sparked out on Radio Four last night. This was that there were more than 200 deaths last year of children -- the majority of them babies -- that were "looked at" by the authorities. I'm not sure what statistical methods one could apply to conclude how many of these actually involved neglect or abuse by the parents, and neglect by the social services, but I am going to posit that the number is greater than zero.

So, why the Baby P uproar? Well, for once, The Sun could justifiably say that "it was the Sun wot won it". The Labour government may not care about the electorate, but it cares about getting elected. A one million-strong petitionis good enough to get any politician's juices flowing.

But I think that a key factor here was the decision by Sharon Shoesmith to claim that Haringey had not done anything wrong, that it had no reason to apologize, and that no-one would be disciplined.

This was, as it were, a "tipping point" that pushed the collective unconscious towards a desire for punishment. Many other children's services directors are probably muttering this morning "there but for the grace of god go I". For this is mainly a punishment of hubris, a decision to show those who work for local authorities that they are not quite as unaccountable as they think. While those in the private sector worry about their pay going into the bank next month, this was an example of public sector hubris at its worst.

There may be unfortunate consequences. "Better that 100 children be taken into care than one be left to die" will become the new mantra. And the net result of that will be 99 children severely damaged.

It's a sad shitty world full of people that can do this -- but giving local authorities more power over families isn't the right solution.

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peterbirks: (Default)
I saw a Humber Hawk this morning. Didn't have my camera with me, and it was dark, so you will have to accept a rather poor camera phone version.

I was interested because the Humber Super Snipe was one of the cars that my father drove circa 1958 to 1963, and I always had a soft spot for it. I travelled in a large number of cars in my very young days - Rolls Royces, the big old Princesses (not the Austin remake), Bentleys, plus sports cars and other intersting diversions (such as pink cadillacs). One of the benefits of being in a chauffeur-driven family (although it would have been even better if it had not been your father who was the chauffeur).

The height of surrealism was the camping holiday in Swanage in a Rolls Royce.

By comparison, the Humber was modest.

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