...it ever more power over its members, more since right wing orthodoxies have taken root on the left ... David Cameron believes parents know what is best for their kids. Mr & Mrs Common Sense tell the nanny state to keep out. Parenting has been privatised along with much else. That leaves vulnerable children unprotected.Where to start... Parenting has not been privatised. It was always thus. Only over the last forty or fifty years has the state involved itself in the non-educational aspects of child rearing. Up to then, if there were familial problems or issues it was left to the wider family or local community to intervene. As Hilary Clinton said, "it takes a village", rather than a State.
I am not someone who decries all the efforts of social workers. They have a very difficult job to do, often in very trying and harrowing circumstances. But social workers primarily have a role to play when the family unit can no longer cope, or when it is clear that a child is at risk. Yasmin seems to think that the State - through social workers - is more adept at child rearing than mothers and fathers.
What we cannot do is to allow the tragic case of Baby P colour all our judgements on the pros and cons of social workers, or indeed the child rearing abilities of single mothers. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is attempting to besmirch the fantastic way 99% of families in this country bring up their children, and by doing that trying to give the State an even greater role in our lives.
She also said on Radio 2 that if taking 100 babies away from parents meant saving the life of one, it was a price worth paying. In her column she writes...
Taking boys and girls away from their parents can give some the only chance they have...Even if the worst parents were themselves victims of deprivation, they cannot be the primary concern if we want children to be safe.
Safe. An interesting word. In Yasmin's world, the only safe place is in the arms of the State, away from the abusive hands of parents. She conveniently forgets the numerous examples of child abuse occurring while children have been in the care of the State. There is no panacea, no idyll, no nirvana where children will come to no harm. There are bad parents, just as there are bad State controlled institutions. The State can play a role in helping parents to learn how to be good parents, but there is no one size fits all solution.
Just as I am not going to demonise all State institutions just because one - Haringey - has so spectacularly failed - people like Yasmin should not demonise all parents and families on the basis that Baby P's brought disgrace on the very word 'family'.
But there is one consolation from Yasmin's Radio 2 interview. As my partner pointed out, she talked for 10-15 minutes without mentioning the issue of race once. Progress indeed.