Nurses’ Union Speaks over Baby P

In response to the report on the death of Baby P by the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Dr. Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said:

“We have been calling for government action to improve the dire state of child protection services in many parts of the country. It’s the child protection postcode lottery that failed Victoria Climbie in 2000 and it’s the same postcode lottery that has failed Baby P.

“The system is not in place to prevent similar tragedies, and government, Trusts and local authorities must show greater leadership and provide greater investment in training and access to Designated and Named Professionals. This would equip every part of the country with an adequate safeguarding and child protection service.

“It is also up to child protection services to create a culture where it is acceptable for staff to express their concerns and reservations if they suspect a child is at risk. People are worried about saying something that turns out to be false, but child protection is not a precise science. If all professionals have clinical supervision then the individuals involved have a forum to express their suspicion before deciding how to take things forward.

“For everyone involved in child protection services, lessons need to be learnt and the right action is taken. This means simpler systems that make the work less, not more complicated for staff. Disincentives to good practice must be removed and new incentives to succeed and protect must be put in place.”

“We know that many health professionals who work with children have not been able to access the training they require since the raid on training budgets during the deficits crisis. We urge all health professionals working with children to get in touch with the RCN or their relevant professional body if they do not have access to mandatory training or if they feel that their concerns are not being heard.”

124 comments on “Nurses’ Union Speaks over Baby P

  1. mariya on said:

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  2. mark anthony france on said:

    #1 Maria…. I am personally intelligent but really broke! but whats that got to do with the Nurse’s Union statement on baby P?

  3. mark anthony france on said:

    #3 Don’t be silly Bilko… the RCN is a union…. and at least it has something to say on this issue unlike UNISON.

  4. mark anthony france on said:

    The RCN is proposing some practical improvements in Chilld Protection procedures…. ‘Clinical Supervision’ is key to developing a capacity for reflective practice and ensuring that people in the frontline of child protection do not experiencer ‘burn out’ or develope cynicism in their relationships with colleagues and er…. ‘service users’.
    Anyone who has lived with someone who is a ‘caring professional’ or just anyone who actually ‘cares’ about the social implications of their ‘job’ knows the psychological stress they are under.

    This sort of cognitive dissonance is real and painfull.

    The RCN situates the centrality of training in how to deal with this in child protection work.

    Every nurse will encounter, parents, grandparents, children, wifes, husbands, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles and every permutation of ‘family’ often in the most mundane of circumstances information will be disclosed during ‘routine’ assessments.

    In the middle of this ‘routine’ somewhere, somehow, someone is being subjected to abuse. All nurses should recieve training in child protection as a matter of course…. and they should act upon it.

    And they should not be subjected to censure for acting.

  5. The RCN is not a trade union – it is a professional organisation, as I’m sure any RCN activist would tell you.
    Nurses all do already receive training in child protection, and adding in clinical supervision for those areas where it doesn’t exist might well be a good idea, but it doesn’t by itself solve any of the problems of burnout or overwork – in fact, unless it is tied to massively increased resources, its just an extra workload burden.
    The fact is that many professionals *had* recognised that Baby P was at risk. Calling attention to the issue was not the problem here, unlike with Victoria Climbie. The astounding overwork and shortages of staff of frontline social work staff were the key factors in the failures of the system to adequately protect Baby P.
    Its a real failing that UNISON nationally is not saying more about this issue – I hope that will change over the next few days. But the RCN approach of criticising the “dire state of child protection services” without identifying that lack of resourcing is the fundamental reason for that dire state just opens the door to scapegoating of frontline workers IMHO.

  6. Mark France has been calling for the sacking of care professionals, As Respect national exec member he is the one who should in my opinion resign. He has been backing Murdochs witchunt and making calls for punishment of care staff without any knowledge about this case. So frankly Mark I couldn’t two figs what you call for now. You should retract your assertions that social workers and nurses are highly paid and live in Ivory Towers. It is nasty, bigotted right wing crap.

  7. And what you are doing ll is trying to create a shrill climate of shouting down anyone who speaks outside what you coonsider the very limited range of permitted opinions.

    It happens that very many working class people who experience the social work system and education systems find it alienanating, dismpowering, and that they are patronised and excluded from key decisions about the welfare of their own children.

    Mark is eloquently bringing that expereince up, and you don’t like to hear it. I don’t agree with all marks conclusion,s but it seems you want to silence the recipients of the welfare system, and only listen to the professionals.

  8. mark anthony france on said:

    Sharon Shoesmith has been ‘sacked’…. others have resigned and other have been suspended from work pending investigations the Paediatrician involved has been dealth with by the GMC… These developments are good thing.

    Investigating what went wrong is a good thing… disciplining managers and workers who failed to do their jobs… is a good thing…. a thing that Socialists should support.

    In my book Sharon Shoesmith is Highly Paid…. and I hope she looses that salary ASAP.

    50% of all people in work in the UK earn less than 1
    £18K a year [and that’s not including the ‘black economy’]
    £30K a year for a London Social Worker seems a lot to many of us who have to cope on a lot less.

    I have as much knowledge as you about this case that is why I have called for a Full Public Inquiry.

    I would like to See the RCN, UNISON, BASW, the NUT and other organisations representing workers who deal with child protection issues build on the success of the recent 10,000 strong Child Poverty Demonstration…. and turn the Justice for Baby P March into a mass mobilisation calling for the Change We Need in the Welfare State to ensure that Every Child Does Matter.

    ll… I have never said ‘that social workers and nurses are highly paid and live in Ivory Towers’…. so stop telling lies.
    I know from concrete personal experience that in all professions there are incompetent, lazy bullies, who are often up the arses [apologies for my crudeness] of even more incompetent, lazy and bullying managers…
    I have witnessed this in employment in the NHS, Education and in the Voluntary Sector working closely with child protection workers.
    I have come across good hearted people with sound instinct who are ‘natural’ socialists even if they aren’t ideologically aware of this who are demoralised and overworked, under stress and about to crack…. if they do accomodate themselves to the status quo in order to survive this is understandable and only human…. However, when a kid dies under circumstances much worse than the Victoria Climbie case… then we need action and yes if necessary punishment of those who failed to act.

    The PCT Mental Health Worker in the Baby P case who made the initial assessment of Baby P’s mother know doubt did so in good faith…. this was right at the start of the process…. But I think the evidence is clear that this assessment was wrong, and started the ball rolling in the wrong direction…. a direction that led to death.

  9. mark anthony france on said:

    #6 Kate Aherns….It would be marvellous if a TUC affiliated Union like UNSION could adopt a position of the Baby P debate….. I think the RCN are right to talk about the ‘dire situation’…. and the independent review into the situation of Haringeys child safeguarding management culture proves the ‘dire situation’….. We can’t keep sticking our heads in the sand and hope this will blow over…. Socialists and trade Unionist should lead on this…. and there is no shame in Unison following the RCN’s lead..

    The truth is the truth and Every Child Matters.

  10. “Socialists should support the calls for the resignation and or sacking of the key professionals engaged in this case.”
    Mark Anthony France

    Sorry Mark but you demanded the sacking of professionals involved with the Baby P case. You made no mention what they had done with this case, what their practice was, what mistakes you had deemed to have done. This would of course include the social worker who sought legal advice to go to court for care orders. You just thought that all professionals who had been involved should be sacked. You are frankly making reactionary demands on based on fuck all
    then you say

    ” have as much knowledge as you about this case that is why I have called for a Full Public Inquiry.”

    surely what should happen comes after a public enquiry?? or you just want to be judge and jury. You should resign your position as National Exec member of Respect. For attacking public sector workers without any facts at your dispossal.

  11. And what you are doing Andy Newman is trying to de-legitimise the very reasonable point that mark anthony france’s attack on social workers is anti-working class, and should not be coming from a National Committee member of any organisation that claims to be remotely progressive, and you don’t like to hear it.

  12. mark anthony france on said:

    #12 …ll….Do you watch the news at all?
    What I called for on the 25th of Novemember in relation to the Baby P case has been to a large extent enacted…. Sharon Shoesmith has been ‘sacked’…. I called for resignations and two key New Labour Council Leaders have resigned…. it is a shame that the Social Workers in the Case didn’t resign and then they could have been liberated to speak their minds about the reality of working under the Shoesmith regime…. instead they are suspended on full pay… which must be a relief…
    If these workers as a result of the investigations committed or ommitted to work within the code of practice and ethics of their profession….and have been found to have obstructed moves toward integrated working… or failed to understand how to use the common assesment framework or how to share information…then they should be disciplined… and sanctioned applied.
    Haringeys Serious Case Review whose executive summary was published on the 11th November… was effectively an attempt to Whitewash the practical failures in this case.. the OFSTED inspection of Haringey was also clearly flawed.
    These are not my findings but the findings of an Independent Report. The one published on the 1st December.

    I also raised the demand for a new Public Inquiry… a demand that is also supported by the Victoria Climbie Foundation….
    Do you support the demand for a Public Inquiry??
    Or are you too focused on trying to persuade me to resign for the elected post I hold in a small but electorally significant Socialist Party??

    ll there is a mountain of material in the public domain about the Baby P case… and it is just the tip of the iceberg…

    If any Public Sector workers who work in the field in Haringey have anything they want to add to the material in the public domain…. say it.

  13. Inigo Montoya on said:

    >>> £30K a year for a London Social Worker seems a lot to many of us who have to cope on a lot less.

    For people who live in London, the notion that 30k a year is somehow a great salary is ridiculous. Sure there are many people who have less pay but your argument is in effect a lumpenproletarian position that seeks to focus on bitterness about disparity of wages rather than trying to do something. It’s unsurprising that you have fallen hook, line and sinker for Murdoch’s line.

  14. Hospital Worker on said:

    #9
    “It happens that very many working class people who experience the social work system and education systems find it alienanating, dismpowering, and that they are patronised and excluded from key decisions about the welfare of their own children.”

    Those of us with any practical experience of working in the NHS or other social care services recognise that is the experience of the frontline professionals too. It’s shameful some people on this blog have fallen for the typical knee-jerk Murdoch spin. Shame they aren’t so vociferous about forcing mothers of infants back to work. Thats going to do a lot to promote child welfare, isn’t it….?

  15. That is just moralistic nonsense “Hospital Worker”, especially as the issue of the mothers of infants being forced back to work, and the way Child Tax Credit forces single parents to work against their wishes has been raised before on this blog.

    Rather than be in a permenent pose of outrage, you might do better to have a conversation.

    Use of terms like “shameful” to delegitimise opinions that you don’t agree with will get us know where.

    I am not endorsing all of mark Anthony’s views, but he does have a point of view informed by his own expereince of the welfare system, and it is one shared by millions of working class people.

    rathet than denouncing him in increasingly intolerant terms, perhaps you might patiently and calmly explain what you think, and why you think Mark is wrong.

    If socialists are so intolerant of views that are widely spread among the working classes, then how do you exppect to persuade people?

  16. mark anthony france on said:

    13# Skidmarx…What is anti-working class about the truth?
    The vast majority of the 1.3 million people who signed the SUN’s petition on Baby P are working class.
    My position is clear if we do not take a lead in saying how the Wefare State can be improved and extended then we leave the leadership to the SUN, which is parasitic on the emotions engendered by the death of Baby P.

    I have never attacked social workers. Where in my original article is there an attack on social workers? I made a point of defending one social worker in particular Nevres Kemal… whose criticism of the ‘regime’ in Haringey have been vindicated…. [do you disagree with her? If you were to voice disagreement with her would that constitute an attack upon a social worker?]

    I have pointed out the failings of a number of professionals involved in the Baby P case… Failings that have been confirmed by an Independent Inquiry and resulted in resignation, sackings, suspensions and disciplinary investigations.

    I agree with the resignation, sackings, suspensions and disciplinary investigations because I feel this is the correct course of action to take. This does not make me ‘anti working class’.

    I have called for a wider debate in society around the repercussions and implications of the Baby P case. In particular a debate about the ‘family’, domestic violence, and child poverty.

    This debate is occurring

    I have said ‘Socialists’ should take a lead in this debate and base our approach on promoting the implementation in practice of the promises of the Every Child Matters agenda.

    What do you think about that?

    Most controversially and with no response from any organisation or individual on the left… I have proposed participation of the ‘left’ in the Justice for Baby P Demonstration on 13th December.

    Clearly Ed Balls decisive actions on the 1st December have taken some of the wind out of the sails of this mobilisation as has the decision to delay sentencing of the 3 convicted of Baby P’s death to the Spring.

    However, I still believe that to mobilise an intervention into this event could be an important way for public sector workers to relate positively to widespread media criticism.

    The event is only a week away…. It is not too late to influence it’s character and dynamic. Instead some people prefer to ‘attack’ me…. which is a shame. You can’t call for me to be ‘sacked’ because I am part of the unemployed underclass that live in poverty in this country and are justified in our anger at the collapse of the Welfare State. Some like ll call for me to ‘resign’ from an elected office I have held for barely 6 weeks, an unpaid voluntary post with no job description and no line management…. the call for my resignation is an absolutely pathetic response to a nationwide sea shift in public perceptions about the Welfare State.
    If I were to resign nothing changes at all and no one will be affected. So what is the point of calling for that?

  17. “If socialists are so intolerant of views that are widely spread among the working classes, then how do you exppect to persuade people” Andy

    ah well NC members of RESPECT can spout any old reactionary crap because there will always be some worker who agrees..hope this doesn’t apply to racism Andy? Of course there were quite a few workers who wanted the Miners sacked in 1984 but I think the idea socialists went along with this bull is frankly bizzare.

  18. Mark France states all professioanls involved in this case should be sacked!! everyone of them, he of course doesn’t know what those individuals did or didn’t do but he says sack them anyway. What a disgrace. From a leading member of Respect and Andy another leading member backs him up!!
    If this is RESPECTs positon then I hope there are more electoral defeats for you and you depart movement.

  19. Mark
    Its absolutely amazzing that a so called socialist organisation including the ISG can elect someone who joins the Murdoch machine and calls for worlers to be sacked. What about the concerns regarding the alledged domestic violnce , you seem to sweep this under the carpet, since you are the expert what shoudl the social worker have doen about it. If its such a cushy number why don’t you get of your fat arse and train to be a social worker and show them how its done!! you attack single mothers on benefits and then we find out you are on the dole as well!! it Repsect’s back to basics campaign lol

  20. Hospital Worker on said:

    It is shameful insofar as certain people are all too willing to jump on a manufactured, right-wing media hysterical frenzy. The real cause of these tragedies is largely down to services being under-resourced, the workers being taken away from clinical work by managers imposing top-down targets for form filling on workers over quality, one-to-one, face-to-face contact, and cuts in frontline services.

    For example, the other week, due to staffing problems, I was left with the “choice” of either leaving my part of a borough without emergency cover (the allocated worker was away and management had not allocated a replacement), or leaving a client who poses a potentially serious threat to women unsupervised during their leave in the community. We all know where “choices” like that lead, and that is to another media-inspired moral frenzy when the inevitable tragedy occurs.

    I have lost count over the number of times I have been ordered by my line management to cancel contacts and instead sit in the office duplicating information on forms. The rationale behind such exercises is that it makes the services appear to perform much better in government league tables than it actually does in reality.

    What really irks me is the attitude that failures in the services are somehow the responsibility of those working in them. Perhaps we should be demanding that everyone on the rail and tube networks is sacked when the scheduled train / tube doesn’t arrive? After all, how many contacts have I missed due to such problems, and if the likes of Mr Francis are going to becalling for my head, perhaps it is only fair to spread the good news around.

    In reality, the experience of working in health and social services is as profoundly alienating (albeit in a different way) as it is for those that have to use and access them. The fault for that lies not in stressed out, and frequently abused and assaulted workers (in my line of work over 80% of us have been subjuect to physical assault by the people we are trying to help), but the social and economic system that leaves so many cracks in peoples lives, with no resources available to remedy the situation.

    Hope that clears a few things up.

  21. mark anthony france on said:

    #ll … firstly my ‘arse’ is not ‘fat’.
    What concerns about ‘domestic violence’ that I sweep under the carpet?
    If I was a ‘female single parent’ then I would straight away apply for a Bursary to train as a Social Worker at a college not 15 minutes walk from my home…Because I would be welcomed. But I know the culture on that particular course and of the academics that run it is not exactly welcoming for ‘men’… from the evidence of a male cousin who was driven out of the course by ‘bullies’ who are now in practice as social workers…

    For your information I actually applied for a 16K per annum Family Support Workers job yesterday. I had an interview for a similar post a few months ago.. But the all female panel prefered to give the post to a 23 year old new middle class female graduate with no kids… Rather than a 46 year old male with no degree and over a decade of primary caring role for several dual heritage kids in a combined extended disadvantaged family where substance misuse and criminality were the norm.

    My last job was working as a Child Supervisor in a High School just out of special measures…. and I witnessed the cynicism and lazy incompetence of many teaching staff and support workers that impacted negatively on some very vulnerable young men and women. When I applied for a full time post at the school… the all female panel decided to appoint a young woman who was ‘a single parent’ and who would clearly fit in with the regime and not rock the boat. When I asked for feedback … the fact this woman had a kid was given as a factor in appointing her… The fact I had a kid was apparently not important. So me and my son live in poverty…
    I am not classed as a ‘single parent’ because I haven’t lied about the exsistence of my partner or her income from employement. I know for a fact the person who got the post over me is a liar.

    I do not relish this exposure of the reality of competition for work at the bottom end of the jobs market… nor do I relish talking about my personal situation in this fashion…. I only do so in order that you can get a clear picture of where I am coming from… in the hope that you stop being so nasty and abusive towards me.

    I don’t ‘attack’ single mothers on benefit… I point out that manipulative bullying people like Karen Matthews get away with long term abuse of the children and men in their lives… and Karen Matthews is not an isolated case…
    The reality of this lived experience is not reflected in the way Welfare Services are provided.

    I would just like to remind you what I actually did say at the end of my article on Baby P case…

    “The extent of the injustice perpetrated upon Baby P, is a symptom of a deeper paralysis that affects statutory Health, Social and Educational Services when confronted with the complexities of social problems in the 21st Century. Nowhere is this paralysis more acute than in relationship with meeting the needs of Children. The failure of the Welfare State to meet the needs of the most vulnerable must be addressed by Socialists.

    Socialists should support the calls for a full Public Inquiry into the Death of Baby P.

    “Socialists should support the calls for the resignation and or sacking of the key professionals engaged in this case.
    Socialists should be part of the wider debate about the real nature and extent of child abuse, intimate abuse, and domestic violence in society.
    Socialists should champion the implementation in practice of the Every Child Matters agenda and expose those who are obstructing this process.
    Socialists should mobilise to support the Justice for Baby P March on Saturday 13th December”

    I’d love to see the RCN banner on the December 13th demo and an RCN speaker there too.
    I won’t be there because I can’t afford to get down.

  22. Inigo Montoya on said:

    #24 – “My last job was working as a Child Supervisor in a High School just out of special measures…. and I witnessed the cynicism and lazy incompetence of many teaching staff and support workers that impacted negatively on some very vulnerable young men and women. When I applied for a full time post at the school… the all female panel decided to appoint a young woman who was ‘a single parent’ and who would clearly fit in with the regime and not rock the boat.”

    Mark, it’s a shame that you’re unemployed and I truly wish you all the best with finding employment but this kinda lumpen stuff is appalling. Bitterness, sexism and accusations of bias that belong in the pages of The Daily Mail.

  23. mark anthony france on said:

    Just heard on Radio 4 that last year 4,000 children were ‘excluded’ from school last year under the age of 5!

    Usually for acts of ‘violence’ towards teaching staff.

    What is going on here… why are teaching professionals jump to ‘exclude’ and not investigate the reasons behind the disruptive behaviour??

    Just heard West Yorkshire police describe Karen Matthews as ‘Pure Evil’….. I would have thought ‘stupid cow’ more appropriate.

  24. Anonymous on said:

    Mark you will not do well on the organised “left”. The dont like straight talk
    sandy

  25. mark anthony france on said:

    #24 Inigo… Thank you for your best wishes…What I say is the truth of my experience. nothing more nothing less… At the moment my ‘class’ position is precisely ‘Lumpenproletarian’… There is going to be a huge increase in the numbers of people in my situation as a result of the Recession.

    What is ‘sexist’ about anything I have said?

    I am not bitter… I am simply explaining aspects of my experience that inform my understanding of the profound social changes occuring in England…. about which to date the ‘left’ do not talk about.

    As a longstanding dialectical materialist but one without the advantage of a degree and ‘professional’ status that usually comes with that along with material affluence, I have been a champion of the oppressed worldwide, and a strident defender of the self-organisation of the oppressed. A defender of Black,Women’s and Gay Liberation.

    What I am experiencing now as someone ‘labelled’ as a ‘lumpen’ male is ‘exclusion’ and oppression. I have no power and exercise non. Virtually everyweek I encounter people in more powerful positions who misuse those positions of power.

    The misuse of power is a issue for socialist to address.

  26. I am fortunate that i haven’t shared many of the experiences that mark has; but it simply doesn’t do to ignore the way the culture of “professionalism”, and reducing other people to the status of “clients”, rather than people, disempowers and fustrates people.

    My expeience with my son, who has an individual education plan due to dyspraxia, is constantly frustrating.

    Schools reports are sent home that are entirely in jargon from the teachers, and when I have gone and asked the teachers what the reports mean, in plain English without the technical vocabulary and acronyms, they are defensive and evasive. And I come away angry and disempowered, and none the wiser – and I am a middle class, well educated parent! Parents are often treated as nuisance trouble makers, rathet than people with a stake in their childrens’ success.

    Similarly, the school both my sons go to, fails boys hopelessly: becasue all the emphasis is on neat tidy handwriting, and sitting still, and I know dozens of parents of boys who are underachieving, and really unhappy. When he was in reception he had a techer who simply didn’t like boys, and this is the experience of many of us parents.

    At the end of last year my boy was given a choice of Cinderella or Beauty and the Beast to write a report about, and he couldn’t be arsed. If they had asked him to do one on anything that boys of 7 are interested in, he would have been much more motivated.

    So this isn’t a question of the school being under-resourced, this is a question of a culture of professional complacency, and intellectual laziness in a school that coasts along getting average Offsted reports just becasue it has a lot of middel class parents who overcome the schools deficiencies, with private lessons.

    The problems are to do with individual teachers, and a culture within the school that doesn’t challenge their deficincies – the proof of which is that his current teacher is brilliant, and for the first time someone has communicated with us as if we are equals.

    So to say that all the problems in schools are to do with cutbacks, or offsted, or under-resourcing, also misses the point about how there has grown up a culture of “professionalism” (i.e the professionals always know best) that acts as a barrier to real human communication and respect.

    this actually has its roots deep in the social authoritarian shift in ideology associated with thatcherism and new labour, that sees people only as consumers.

  27. Inigo Montoya on said:

    Mark, I’m thinking specifically of this:

    “When I applied for a full time post at the school… the all female panel decided to appoint a young woman who was ‘a single parent’ and who would clearly fit in with the regime and not rock the boat”

    Your analysis of the situation seems to start from the perspective that you should have got the job and that this woman got it because: a) She was a woman; b) She was a single parent, and; c) She wouldn’t rock the boat.

    Maybe they thought she’d be better at the job? I know it’s bastard getting past over butit seems to me this kind of thinking runs through a lot of your attacks, such as criticism of these “highly paid” 30k a year London social workers. Still, good luck with the job hunting, no hard feelings.

  28. The more that mark anthony france writes, the worse it gets.
    You say you have fought for women’s liberation in your life as a socialist.
    Are you having a laugh ?
    Your narrative is that you didn’t get a job from an all female selection panel who gave the job to a “single parent”.
    You describe Karen Matthews as a “stupid cow”.
    What is this, the Bernard Manning school of socialism ?
    Andy, you have on more than one occasion counterposed “the working class” to professional social workers and your underlying assumption is that it is the working class who are the sole receivers of the attentions of social work professionals, who you clearly have a problem with.
    A couple of things.
    It is total middle class chauvinism to think that the working class are the only people who are cruel to children and commit domestic violence.
    If you had any idea of what you were talking about, as opposed to the dabbling in every possible area of social life that you so enjoy, you would know that this is not true.
    Secondly, a very large number of social work professionals come from the working class.
    My partner is a criminal justice social worker and she and many of her fellow workers come from traditional working class backgrounds.
    This thread and the one before it on Baby P have shown exactly the need for holding the line on key issues for the left, regardless of how many people sign a Sun petition.

  29. Eddie #31

    “It is total middle class chauvinism to think that the working class are the only people who are cruel to children and commit domestic violence. If you had any idea of what you were talking about, as opposed to the dabbling in every possible area of social life that you so enjoy, you would know that this is not true.”

    I have said as much myself about child abuse not being restricted to the working class on more than one occassion, and I have spoken about the child abuse in my own family and how it was covered up. How you get the idea that I claim either that child abuse is restricted to the working classes, or that I think social workers are all middle class I don’t know.

    You don’t know me, Eddie, you don’t know what I know about, you don’t know what expereince I or my familly have with the welfare system, with child abuse, with prison, with bullying, and with mental health issues; you don’t know what personal expereince I may have had with domestic violence, so don’t patronise me and make sanctimonious and smug assumptions.

    I precisely have not polarised a distinction between the working class and professional social workers, what I have said is that those who are trying to brow beat Mark for saying what he thinks should recognise that these are views that are informed by his expereince, and are widespread among many people, including among the working classes.

    If you base your politics on the assumptions that the ideology behind the social services is always broadly correct, and the only problem is they don;t have enough staff or money, then you will be correct a lot of the time; but you won’t be correct all of the time. You also need to look at how the welfare system is perceived and experienced by those who are powerless in front of it. Where the system seems to confront people as a set of arbitrary, bureaucratic and often nonsensical rules.

  30. “If I was a ‘female single parent’ then I would straight away apply for a Bursary to train as a Social Worker at a college not 15 minutes walk from my home…Because I would be welcomed. But I know the culture on that particular course and of the academics that run it is not exactly welcoming for ‘men’… from the evidence of a male cousin who was driven out of the course by ‘bullies’ who are now in practice as social workers”

    Is this really the view of a leading Respect member! I cannot believe that this sort of stuff is tolerated. I think this sexist drivel should be challenged.

    I can’t be the only one who is glad Mark isn’t a social worker. Think of all the single mothers he would be intimidating!!

  31. Andy, it was you I was addressing the second half of my post to.
    You are right, I don’t know what experience you have of child abuse, prison, bullying or mental health issues but what I do know is that Andy’s personal experiences don’t make him an expert on any of these and if you think they do confer on you special knowledge then you are a self important fool.
    You have indeed repeatedly counterposed professional social workers to the working class and when you wrote;
    “It happens that very many working class people who experience the social work system and education systems find it alienanating, dismpowering, and that they are patronised and excluded from key decisions about the welfare of their own children.”
    Your underlying assumption is exactly that it is working class children who are the exclusive focus of social workers.
    As I said, if you had a clue what you were talking about you would know that middle and upper class people abuse their children and commit domestic violence.
    But you don’t have a clue because you think your own experience, whatever that may be, qualifies you as an expert on these issues.
    It doesn’t.

  32. Eddie

    Don’t be such a fool.

    Social workers obviously deal with people from all walks of life. I have never implied otherwise.

    However, the middle classes and more educated people generally find it easier to negotiate and deal with the system than those who are more powerless in our society.

    So the expereicne of dealing with social services will be different for someone who is a middle class homeowner in a professional job.

    Particularly for the most culturally disadvantaged people, then they have to deal with a raft of different agencies; and their life is generally more stressful, and they are less likely to understand the jargon, and talk the talk – and it simply is a case that many people are patronised and functionally excluded. I am not an expert in social work, but after all these years i have known enough people through my family, friends and work to know of the real difficulties that many people have in navigating through the system. And it is all too easy to become someone who becomes pidegeonholed, and about whom wrong assumptions are made.

    Of course This doesn’t always apply, maybe it doesn’t even happen often, and I am sure that a majority of caring professionals are both caring and professional; but some may not be – that is my experience. It is also tragically true that sometimes the system fails.

    I have never pretended to be an expert; but I do know my own expereince, and I do know that the sentiments that mark expresses are not uncommon, and maybe some people have good reason for feeling that way.

  33. Eddie you say #35: “Your underlying assumption is exactly that it is working class children who are the exclusive focus of social workers.”

    That is simply a lie. Not only have I never expressed that thought, but I have explicitly argued against it.

  34. Andy,
    I mentioned in the previous thread about Baby P that one of the positive things about the otherwise appalling post by mark anthony france was that a number of people actually involved in social work had posted facts and information about the situation in Haringey and elsewhere in relation to child protection measures.
    Every single one of those people who posted was critical of the position that was taken.
    One of those who criticised mark anthony france was my partner who is a criminal justice social worker attached to a police division which deals with child protection and domestic violence.
    Every single day of the week they deal with the most appalling cases imaginable and nobody gets to hear about it other than those involved.
    The others who commented on the thread will have also have been socialists, I would imagine, who have expertise and experience in this field.
    Both you and mark anthony france have dismissed these comrades, their experience and their opinions, you seem to think that the mere fact that they are “professionals” is enough to render them in some way complicit in the failures of the system and you are dismissive of the single biggest issue facing social services in the UK, a chronic lack of funding.
    And Andy, let me explain to you what is going on here.
    Social work, with all it’s failings, and believe me social workers will be the first to tell you about it’s failings, represents a collective attempt to deal with society’s problems.
    The attacks on social workers and the denigration of the profession represents an attack on collectivism, it’s a part of the drive to destroy the welfare state and reduce society to a collection of individuals. That is why the right wing press have spent the past decades singling out social workers, social services and local councils for attack.
    Andy, I’m sorry if you had bad experiences as a child in whatever respect but that doesn’t confer on you any understanding of child protection issues and it certainly doesn’t mean that you can dismiss the professional opinion of those who have trained and are working in this field and who have all attacked the base lumpenism of mark anthony france when commenting on the threads on SU.
    One of my granddaughters only has one eye because doctors failed to diagnose Melanoma at the earliest stages. That doesn’t mean I go around attacking the medical profession, demanding that those concerned should be struck off and thinking that I have more knowledge about health matters than medical professionals.
    Building a socialist alternative means taking a principled position on issues such as this that hold the line against the attacks on collectivism and require us to listen to the many of our comrades who are involved in social services.
    Not to listen to them, indeed to attack them as you have done for the mere fact that they are trained professionals, on the basis of ‘personal experience’ is the absolute opposite of how socialists should proceed.

  35. mark anthony france on said:

    #38 Eddie… The purpose of my origninal post of the Baby P case was to alert ‘Socialists’ to the underlying truths behind the campaign run by the Murdoch press and argue that for Socialists to adopt a ‘defensive’ stance or to fail to address the real concerns of millions of ordinary people would be a mistake.

    On the specific question of the situation in Haringey clearly the positions I argued have been born out by subsequent events.

    This posting on the position adopted by the RCN is important… because the RCN is simple stating the truth

    “We have been calling for government action to improve the dire state of child protection services in many parts of the country. It’s the child protection postcode lottery that failed Victoria Climbie in 2000 and it’s the same postcode lottery that has failed Baby P.

    “The system is not in place to prevent similar tragedies, and government, Trusts and local authorities must show greater leadership and provide greater investment in training and access to Designated and Named Professionals. This would equip every part of the country with an adequate safeguarding and child protection service.”

    You say ‘Building a socialist alternative means taking a principle position on issues such as this that hold the line against attacks on collectivism and require us to listen to many of our comrades who are involved in social services”

    Unfortunately, Eddie non of the comarades involved in social services posted any article on the Baby P. I value the responses of comrades in the front line in this debate and I have indicated that we need to be truthful and recognise when things have gone badly wrong. Building a socialist alternative means that comrades in the front lie have a duty to but forward a vision of how all aspects of Welfare provision can be improved. I have indicated that a campaign to champion the Every Child Matters agenda could be central to Building an alternative.. No one has addressed these proposals

    I have taken a lot of criticism by taking the same stance as the RCN on the “dire state of child protection services”. No venom is directed toward Dr Peter Carter Gen Sec of the RCN. Is this because he made this statement after Ed Balls Dec 1st press conference whereas I said the say things a week befor. Or is the venom reserved for me because I am on the dole with no degree whereas Peter Carter is a Dr.

    Socialist do not have to ‘defend’ ‘dire’ services. Socialist do not have to ‘defend’ the ‘collectivism’ of ‘professionals’ who have a tendancy to close ranks and refuse to admit to reality.

    As Andy Newman correctly pointed out “but it simply doesn’t do to ignore the way the culture of “professionalism”, and reducing other people to the status of “clients”, rather than people, disempowers and fustrates people.”

    Eddie…. you rightly criticise me for calling Karen Matthews a ‘stupid cow’…. as opposed to West Yorkshire Polices description of her as ‘Pure Evil’. I do not think that you beleive she is ‘Pure Evil’ do you?

    It is very, very rare for me to use any derogatory or abusive lanquage on this site or in general in life. I retract my description of Karen Matthews as a ‘stupid cow’… However, you might like to know that I have held meetings with the Head Teacher of the school where Shannon Matthews used to go. She was the chair of a child protection core group. She said to me that the 6 year old male child subject to child protection procedures who was the son of one of my ‘clients’ … she said he was ‘Racist’. Do know what I think of her?? This HeadTeacher is a ‘stupid cow’.

  36. Eddie Truman comment 38: “The attacks on social workers and the denigration of the profession represents an attack on collectivism, it’s a part of the drive to destroy the welfare state and reduce society to a collection of individuals. That is why the right wing press have spent the past decades singling out social workers, social services and local councils for attack.”

    I completely agree with you Eddie and this attack started well before Thatcher and now also under all the years of the “New Labour” government. The real agenda behind the Baby P campaign in the Sun and other conservative papers was not, and never has been, about protecting vulnerable children like Baby P but softening up the public to dismantle whats left of our public services and outsourcing Social Services (and other public services) to the private market (how many people realise that our careers and advice service for young people Connexions is now run by a private company, like wise many young offenders are housed in PRIVATE jails [its what they really are] called Young Offender Institutes who have had problem after problem including youth suicides and deaths by the wrong use of staff restraint – but no campaign from the SUN newspaper!).

    While the public are in a frenzy about Social Workers the Sun and their friends in business hope (and work for) less resistance to the privatisation of Children’s Services (Edd Balls has already suggested he may look at this option for Haringey and others). But we should be clear that Children’s Services are only one of many future privatisations that this government is considering (Forestry Commission, Ordinance Survey etc). The neo-liberal agenda and capitalism created this crisis but make no mistake – its the workers they intend to pay for it while pumping billions more into the war in Afghanistan – its a sick world we live in and one we need to change and change fast.

    The attack on Social Workers and Social Services is linked to the attack to force lone parents back into work once their child has reached the age of one and the ongoing agenda to privatise all and everything this government can gets its hands on (the only mistake the “New Labour” diehards have admitted to is that they did not privatise quick enough in the early years of this government!!) – Socialist should understand this and link the issues together just as the ruling elite are able too in their interests.

    Its enough to get your blood boiling – just consider these issues (an example only – there are plenty more to look at) contained in both the last (yes some of this is already happening with little protest) and the current Queens speech:

    1. The government intend to force lone parents back into work once their child had reached the age of one.
    2. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to contract out the provision of crisis loans to the private and third sector as well as credit unions.
    3. The government plans are part of far reaching changes to the Social Fund which include the merging of budgeting loans with crisis loans, making customers pay interest on loans.
    4. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) is set to pilot the use of lie detectors to uncover benefit fraud and impose a “one strike and you’re out” approach to anybody found fiddling the system (worthy of Nazi Germany!).
    5. Offender Management Bill in Queens speech (the last one) will allow the home secretary to use private firms to deal with tackling re-offenders (it will mean that the Probation Service would have to compete with private sector firms and voluntary organisations.The Home Office has already confirmed it will contract out about one third of the service’s £800m budget within 18 months).

    While at the same time intending to spend £billions more on the war in Afghanistan and £billions more on a new generation of nuclear power stations!!

    Now if this and much more not mentioned is not enough to unite the Left what will it take? You can see why the Sun and others are so keen to absorb and create anger from working people on anything other than the real agenda of working people being asked to pay for this crisis of capitalism.

    Neil Williams

  37. Eddie

    You approach here is less than useful. Becasue you simply don’t take care to respond to what people are actually saying, instead you grab at certain comments and over-react to them.

    What is very bad is the attempt by you and some others here to create a hysterical atmosphere to delegitimise mark’s opinionss, that are not only based upon his experience, but are clearly informed by a broadly left wing view point. Mark’s views and experience are echoed by many other working people.

    One of the things you have presistently misrepresented is that fact that because i mention the expereince of working class people, then you mendaciously claim that i think child abuse only happens in the working classes. Quite the contrary, I mention te expereince of working people because I take the old fashioned view that socialists whould be interested into he experience and opinions of working class people, and if we don’t agree with them we should pateintly and politiely explain our own views, instead of shouting them down.

    No-where have I discounted the experience or expertise of the social work and other professionals; even less have I criticised the concept of a collective approach to social problems.

    No where have I suggested that i am an expert, in their specific fields of work.

    (I like you idea of how a socialist should debate: if someone expresses an opinion you say “ah, but you are not an expert”)

    But I do know that in a number of areas of what we can broadly call the welfare state; housing, social services, benefits, education, etc; there is an ideology that has broadly derived from thatcherism, that reduces people to the status of “clients” and that is experienced as bureaucratic, arbitrary and uncaring by tens of thousands of working class people.

    I don’t agree with everything Mark Anthony has said, but in calling for a public enquiry; and in recognising that there may be institutional factors that have prevented “Every Child matters” being implemented, he does seem to me to be broadly correct.

    Mark’s opinions are pilloried here as being totally outside the pale, and yet what he called for has been broadly echoed by Ed Balls, and by Dr Peter carter of the RCN. So if you disagree with Mark, you should explain why you think he is wrong, not seek to shout him down; and it is worse that people have delibertaly misrepresented what mark has said – for example saying he has called for the sacking of all social workers, etc, etc.

    When mark has explained his own perception of his own life expereonces he has been denounced as a racist and as a sexist – if this is the way the left responds to hearing opinions outside of its comfrot zone, then is it any woonder that we are less and less trusted or relevent?

  38. Incidently, this is one of the most egregious lies from Eddie Truman:

    “Both you and mark anthony france have dismissed these comrades, their experience and their opinions, you seem to think that the mere fact that they are “professionals” is enough to render them in some way complicit in the failures of the system and you are dismissive of the single biggest issue facing social services in the UK, a chronic lack of funding.”

    Quite aprt from Eddie’s inability to see that mark and I are arguing different things, I would point out that no one has disssmissed the views and testimony of these people with front line expertise or expereince.

    No one has argued that all professionals are complicit in the failures of the system; and no-one has been dissmissive of the serious propblems that underfunding has created.

    Indeed I am sure that i have specifically argued the exact opposite of what Eddie says i have.

    I am not sure whether Eddie is a bit slow on the uptake: but to generally criticise parts of the ideological culture of some of the caring services is not the same as dismissing the individual professionalism and experience of practitioners. The fact that we recognise that something is improvable doesn’t mean that we are saying it is currently all crap.

    My concern is that Eddie is so on his high horse about this, that he has been persistently abusive to Mark Anthony; and the weakness of Eddie’s arguments are revealled by his inability to honestly argue against what either i or mark Anthony have said; instead Eddie creates a straw man caracaiture, and argues against that.

  39. mark anthony france on said:

    #40 and #41 Neil and Andy… Thanks… Many Socilists like yourselves have rich store of knowledge and experience… and bring this to bear on the problems that confront society… In the period opened up by the Global Economic Crisis all contradictions are brought to the forefront. In England those contradictions are perhaps more profound and run deeper that in many other nation states.

    Many people who at some stage in their lives were attracted to the concepts of Socialism or even active in a Socialist group now find themselves in positions of potential influence and localised power in a variety of professions concentrated in the Public Sector.

    In the deepening crisis these people are in a powerful position to break out of their sectoral and parochial concerns. Such people have a duty to lead on Preventing the break up, privatisation and outsourcing of all aspects of the Welfare State.

    We all have a duty to the future and we all have a duty to our children.

    There has been talk for months of some form of ‘Charter’ campaign to be launched the new year as a way of uniting and galvanising the ‘left’.

    It is my view that at the centre of this Charter should be the Aims and Outcomes of the Every Child Matters agenda. This was a product of the Climbie Inquiry this is an exsisting official policy of the Labour Government. This agenda cuts across the work of every section of what was called the Welfare State… Health, Education, Social Services and impacts on the Police and Criminal Justice system.

    Just as in the early 1980’s the Recession will impact hardest on those young people who ‘under achieve’ at School. We face the prospect of mass youth unemployment with none of the safety valves available to young people in the 1980’s [ie it was just about possible to survive on the dole and to get access to housing]

    We have had 3 major news stories in as many weeks that all focus on the failings of Health, Education, Police and Social Services …Baby P, The Sheffield ‘Fritzl’ Case, and Karen Matthews.

    These cases have been used by sections of the media to project a new moralistic agenda … some of which is proving to connect with people.

    In general the Public Sector Unions and Socialists have been thrown onto their back foot and appear to have little to say and appear to be doing nothing.

    The RCN should be commended for taking a position. The Victoria Climbie Foundation should be commended for having the courage to relate to the organisers of the Baby P March.

    Christmas is comming the season of goodwill… a time traditionally focused on ‘children’. What a brillant time of year to launch a Charter to defend, improve and extend the Public Sector and the Welfare State. What a brillant time to unite Socialists and Trade Unionists across the land in Launching a Campaign around a Charter that is based on Every Child Matters?

    If the SUN can get a flat bed Truck to Deliever 1.3 million signatures on Baby P to Number 10 in less than 2 weeks of campaigning with a child centred focus but a reactionary agenda. We can do better…

    The success of the End Child Poverty Demo a few weeks ago … shows that this is a key issue in this Recession.

    Imagine A Charter of simple demands that we take out everywhere and that is the focus of activity in 2009… Imagine the potential impact of such a campaign is it is backed by the resources of the public sector Unions.

    Imagine…all the people living life in Peace.

  40. Mark AF – I cant say I agree with you on some aspects of what you have written on this issue but your heart’s in the right place. Most health and care professionals are doing a decent enough job in difficult conditions. Although you get numpties in every workplace.

    The managerial class* on the other hand are a problem in the health and caring services. Heads should be rolling right, left and centre among the managerial class all the way up to the top. As they have done. I’ve got no sympathy whatsoever for the likes of Sharon Shoesmith, Cecilia Hitchen, or Clive Preece. They deserve the flack they’ve gotten. They are administering a system that is exacerbatng the problems.

    It is up to the left to help develop a different managerial model among the health and caring services. One that is built on a more horizontal model than currently exists, and which incorporates decision-making by “shop floor” health and care workers, at local level in particular.

    (*The managerial class is a class in its own right and should be treated as such.)

  41. the point about Mark AF is that he called for all professionals involved to be sacked!! he backed the SUN’s campaign and joined the right wing witchunt. Amazingly he is on the national exec ofd Respect and not one other leading Respect member will tell him what he is arguing is right wing filth. But then come on its all pluralism and anyone can say anything and its lovely. What if Respect took power in Tower Hamlets!!1 faced with something similar it appears it would be handing out the sack to kloads of local govt care workers. What a disgrace Mark AF arguements are!! Of course then there is the statement that Single women have it easier than a male and socila work trainign is anti men!!! fucking hell its the daily mail!! really pathetic. And they voted him in at their conference (rally)!!

  42. mark anthony france on said:

    #44 Kevin… I concur. One issue though which we can’t escape from is that in the public sector a significant proportion of managers are ex ‘Socialists’ who during the generation of reaction have concentrated on making careers in which they have probably been aided by the skills and insight gained via earlier involvement in politics… In some areas these people do marvellous work in developing paper policies and having meetings with like minded people to plan other meetings with other people to plan how to spend budgets etc, etc. Like other managers who don’t have the benefit of previous experience of politicisation they can become disconnected and divorced from the realities of work on the front line.

    We need to defend, improve and extend the Welfare State and the people who have the knowledge of how to do this is not the ‘managerial class’ the people who know what needs to be done are on the front line and also the ‘service users, clients, patients, pupils, parents’ in other words everyone who at some time or another relies on the public sector.

    We need to empower those on the bottom and bring those on the top down a few pegs… if you like a ‘horizontal’ approach…. or a 360Degree Appraisal of how me can do it better.

    To know scientifically what is wrong we should have no fear of ‘inquiries’ or ‘inverstigations’ …. so long as the voice of those on the bottom is heard in this process.

    Today a new Inquiry into the work of Kirklees Social Services triggered by the Karen Matthews case has been announced and I agree with…


    “The family’s MP, Shahid Malik, who represents Dewsbury, called today called for an independent review into the contact social services had with Shannon prior to her disappearance in February.

    Failings in council child protection services have been in the spotlight following the case of Baby P, the toddler who died after months of abuse and neglect while on the at-risk register of Haringey council in north London.

    Malik said: “My gut instinct is that this is not a case like Baby P. But the truth is that we don’t know what this actually is. I think the sensible thing is to have an independent review.”

    full story http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/dec/05/shannon-matthews-karen-child-protection

    Having worked in the past with colleagues in Kirklees Social Services and seen them at parties snorting cocaine then I hope they get their story straight.

  43. “Having worked in the past with colleagues in Kirklees Social Services and seen them at parties snorting cocaine then I hope they get their story straight.”
    I’m gobsmacked.

  44. mark anthony france on said:

    In Case anyone want to contribute comments on Baby P Case The Victoria Climbie Foundation has launched a call for Public Accountabilty

    “Public Call for Accountability
    The Public has reacted strongly to the tragic death of Baby P, calling for those who failed
    to prevent his death to be called to account. VCF – The Victoria Climbié Foundation UK – the link
    organisation between the statutory agencies and the community – fully supports this call.”

    To participate visit…
    http://www.victoria-climbie.org.uk/

  45. To be honest with you, I feel a little sorry for Mark Anthony France. He’s clearly a bit of a fantasist, variously being himself, a woman named charlotte badger and someone called abu jamal. This in itself would be unremarkable, but on more than one occassion this has led to him having conversations with himself in the comments box – rather troubling.

    Having said this, it is a disgrace that a member of the Respect national executive, someone who I presume pruports to speak on behalf of Respect to local media etc, feels it is appropriate to scapegoat and witchhunt social workers, effectively doing the right wing’s work for them; and backing a disgusting and reactionary campaign by the Sun newspaper.

    Not content with this, he follows up by claiming that single women are priveleged in society! and refers to women as ‘stupid cows’, before making some snide remark about some social workers using recreational drugs, as if that was in any way relevant.

    What’s more shocking is that the likes of Andy Newman have not only not distanced themselves from the remarks of this individual; they’ve rallied arounf him. One can only presume this is to make galloway look less sexist and backward by comparison.

    Oh and Andy, something doesn’t become progressive by virtue of Ed Balls backing it.

  46. mark anthony france on said:

    #51 Dave Festive…Thank you so much for your expressions of compassion… but there is no need for you to ‘feel sorry’ for me.
    I have posted under the name ‘charlotte badger’ on a few occasions this is because one of the projects I have been involved in my area is around promoting an understanding of a real historical figure Charlotte Badger see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlotte_Badger.
    I have posted under my islamic name Abu Jamal or more occassions, because this is the name I normally use during ‘Political’ Work. [a habit perhaps conected to my time in the IMG when we used ‘Party Names’]see evidence of earlier public use of my islamic name..
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2006/06/15/huddersfield_soweto_feature.shtml
    Most of the time I post under my Christian Name as this is the one that I do tend to use most of the time…see
    http://www.mfaw.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=259&Itemid=9

    I am not a Fantasist, but a Socialist.

    “Festive” is an usually Surname… or do just use it in the run up to Xmas??

    I have not said “that single women are priveleged in society” I have used the term ‘stupid cow’ about Karen Matthews’ in contradistinction to West Yorkshire Police who called her ‘Pure Evil’…. I have retracted that in regocnition that it may be considered offensive.

    I apologise if I have made any remark about arrogant and incompetent ‘professionals’ in Kirklees that could be considered ‘snide’. The fact that Karen Matthews gave her prescription drugs to keep Shannon under control is more relevant than hypocritical and judgemental social workers who can afford coke on the weekends.

    I am as anti sexist and as anti racist as George Galloway…. and I aspire one day to be as ‘gentlemanly’ and as ‘dapper’ as he.

  47. I am not a Fantasist, but a Socialist.

    Who likes to make sexist remarks, thinks socialists should campaign for workers to be sacked, and has conversations with himself in comments boxes. Oh, and regards being ‘as anti-sexist’ as galloway, i.e. ogling women and then writing a newspaper column about it, as a good thing.

  48. I have posted under the name ‘charlotte badger’ on a few occasions this is because one of the projects I have been involved in my area is around promoting an understanding of a real historical figure Charlotte Badger see

    Yes, but you’ve also claimed to have a husband

  49. “hypocritical and judgemental social workers who can afford coke on the weekends”

    Mark is again backing the right wing and whipping up a witchunt against local govt workers. If this is what is acceptable from National Exec members of Respect then the organisation is really bankrupt.

    No doubt if he saw a tube worker having coke at a party he would be for sacking them as well. Perhpas having 15 pints of mild and beating “the wife” is more up Mark’s street and proletarian. It appears that Mark has a problem with women particualy single women. Mark if anyone needs to resign its you from the Respect national exec. Your intervention on this tragic case has been an eye opener. You have attacked workers and women consistently. You have used the death of this child as a means of venting your dislike for women and if you think citing Galloway’s anti sexism is ok then you have clearly lost the plot.

  50. II, Eddie truman and Dave festive and a few others. You seem to me as pathetic.

    II constantly refers to the same thing over and over again like a stuck record…
    .
    ‘the point about Mark AF is that he called for all professionals involved to be sacked!! he backed the SUN’s campaign and joined the right wing witchunt. Amazingly he is on the national exec ofd Respect and not one other leading Respect member will tell him what he is arguing is right wing filth’

    He is not right wing, he is not a sexist, he is definately not a racist, he is a fair man, who has explained, that he has experienced in one form or another, Domestic violence aimed at him, witnessed child abuse ( his child who is mixed race- but what has that got to do with anything) and tried to get something done about it,and got no where, where many professionals were involved- nothing was done.

    Has worked in a position where he tried to help people of every age, sex and race and was also stopped in some form or another in his job by management and red tape and of course paperwork.

    He has therefore experienced issues with the health care professionals first hand-both in work and as a father. He has said not said all are rubbish at their jobs, but some are. He supports fair pay and working conditions for everyone who has a job and wants to do their job, irrelevent of what it is.

    He is fully aware of how hard some of these jobs are and at no time has critised ALL social workers, health care professionals etc.

    He defends everyones rights to air their views. He has the right to air his.

    I also agree with this comment from Neil, as I have experienced the managerial crap in most of my jobs as I should think a lot of us have. This is a big problem.

    (*The managerial class is a class in its own right and should be treated as such.).

    I can not understand how some people on this site have tunnel vision and have the nerve ( Eddie Truman) to say this..

    ‘Andy, I’m sorry if you had bad experiences as a child in whatever respect but that doesn’t confer on you any understanding of child protection issues and it certainly doesn’t mean that you can dismiss the professional opinion of those who have trained and are working in this field and who have all attacked the base lumpenism of mark anthony france when commenting on the threads on SU.

    Just because you have experienced something in your personal life does not mean you have no understanding of child protection issues, How do you Know??- have you experienced what it seems Andy and Mark have experienced in their life? It doesn’t mean YOU can dismiss their opinion- How can you make this comment?

    I too have a son; Eddie; who was 3 month prem, I had pre eclampisia for what turned out to be 4 weeks before he was born, before I and he nearly died- I only realised I had this illness when another pregnant women in the bed next to me in hosptial asked if I had various symtoms occuring. I had these symptoms for weeks and was under the care of the Dr who did nothing, even though tests I was having showed there was something wrong, I was told I did not have a kidney infection, stop worrying.

    The other lady in the hosp went and got the drs, I am so glad she did. My son was then under the care of the hospital for a year, having rickets in this time. I was not informed of this for 5 months after he was diagnosed, he then had a rare cancer, retinablastoma, (eye Tumours) which I saw in his eye and took action fairly quickly. Having been in intensive care when he was born, and on oxygen I assumed his eyes were being checked as being given Oxygen and being prem can cause eye problems/blindness- when I complained to the hopsital concerned they said ‘sorry’ that was it. He then lost his eye and has medical problems since then due to Radiotherapy. I had post natal depression and saw a therapist- who said take vitamins and sleep more- I feel slightly angry about all this. I do not feel everyone involved in this was at fault, but some were and they closed ranks- I hope those who knew they were wrong in the handling of my son learnt a big lesson and became more aware.

    I was also married to someone who had HIV , Hep C and a few other illness, such as cancer and diabetes, caused by the medication given because of the HIV and Hep C- He was infected through NHS Blood products- He is dead at 41. I feel angry about this- but again it doesn’t mean everyone involved in this fiasco should be blamed- but some should.

    My close friend ( a male)had concerns that his 8 yr old daughter was being abused by her mother and step father, due her body being covered with bruises and scratches- this eventually ended up with the step father and the father having a fight. The mother then punched the daughter in the face in front of me and 20 other people. My friend was arrested and charged with assuault- Social services were called in- and took statements and decided their was no case against the mother. My friend was nearly sent down and the daughter went back to the mother and step father, he was only allowed to see his daughter for 2 years once a month under suprervison. The daughter now lives with him. There is something wrong here?!! Its no wonder ‘normal’ everyday people may think something is wrong here in the health profession.

    I have since worked in the health profession, I too have seen the health proffesionals taking drugs and alcohol, this does mean they all do, but again some DO. That is a fact.

    I am fed up with reading the strumped up comments, being abusive towards good caring people who are being honest with what they have experienced, both personally and professionally, and those people not taking everything on board before making a judgement about Mark or Andy and then aiming such abusive and persoanl comments at them.

    And I agree with the post, everyone who feels they need extra training to help them do their jobs, to go and ask for it with out a fear of concerns for raising this issue. Good luck to you all.

  51. II Here we are again

    ‘Mark is again backing the right wing and whipping up a witchunt against local govt workers. If this is what is acceptable from National Exec members of Respect then the organisation is really bankrupt.

    No doubt if he saw a tube worker having coke at a party he would be for sacking them as well. Perhpas having 15 pints of mild and beating “the wife” is more up Mark’s street and proletarian. It appears that Mark has a problem with women particualy single women. Mark if anyone needs to resign its you from the Respect national exec. Your intervention on this tragic case has been an eye opener. You have attacked workers and women consistently. You have used the death of this child as a means of venting your dislike for women and if you think citing Galloway’s anti sexism is ok then you have clearly lost the plot.

    Comment by ll — 5 December, 2008 @ 3:05 pm

    How dare you say he would prefer 15 pints and then ‘beat the wife’ You disgusting lowlife piece of S**t, vile person. How dare you say he has used the death of an article to vent his anger against single woman, what a load of crap

    How old are you?

  52. Dawn
    Mark has called for sacking local govt workers, thats all of them involved in the baby p case- reactionary bollocks
    Mark has argued a single women got a post because she was a single women!!
    Mark argued social worker training is anti men!!
    if you can’t oppose this then thats your issue.

  53. ll

    I know that it is hard for you to let reality intrude in your fantasy world, but I wouldn’t be at all suprised to learn that some social work courses have ideological presumptions premised upon patriarchy theory, and would be less than welcoming to Mark Anthony – becase he wouldn’t fit into their preconceived categories.

    It is also not at all impossible that an employer might prefer to employ a young woman rather than a 46 year old man with a bit of attitude.

    You really don’t know whethe rthese things are true or not, do you?

    You do however know that Mark did NOT call for the sacking of all the social workers involved in the baby P case.

  54. Hi Mark Anthony,

    Can I ask a couple of questions to hopefully move this debate beyond the realms of denunciation and counter-denunciation? I consider myself a supporter of Respect from abroad.

    You’ve suggested socialists need to relate to the outrage over Baby P because lots of working class people are upset by the case. Do you really think that these people are the audience for socialist politics and for Respect, though? It seems to me more likely that the people who have signed the Sun petition, for example, are from sections of our class unlikely to be very sympathetic to Respect’s ideas, even if Respect were to go and march with them.

    I don’t live in Britain any more, so correct me if I’m wrong on this, but it seems likely to me that there are many, many more working-class people who think the case is tragic but also feel uncomfortable with the tabloid hysteria and (rightly) suspect this is mostly a moral panic and a distraction from real politics.

    Don’t you feel that this sort of thing represents Respect chasing the lowest common denominator, politically?

    I’ve been reading Socialist Unity for a while as a way of keeping up with the Left in Britain, and I’ve followed your posts, Mark Anthony. In the past I’ve thought some of them very sensible. But in the 21st century we absolutely cannot have male comrades referring to any women, even women we politically oppose, as “stupid cows.” It’s sexist and it hurts our movement. I’m sure you realise that, though.

    Cheers,

    James

  55. Y”ou do however know that Mark did NOT call for the sacking of all the social workers involved in the baby P case.”

    You are right Andy I got it wrong.
    He said he was for sacking all professionals involved in the case, so I guess that means health visitors, midwifes as well, so apologies

  56. “Socialists should support the calls for the resignation and or sacking of the key professionals engaged in this case.”
    Mark Anthony France

    enough said?!!!!!!!!!!

  57. He called for the sacking of those responsible for the cock ups.

    Whether or not that is correct, it is not what you are accusing him of.

    What I have seen here – and not for the first time – is you bullying someone for not sharing the SWP’s politics.

  58. why does it seem ok for women to beat men, and possibly children and no one can say a word as its not the thing to be saying ( not PC and labeling every woman as a husband beater/child beater) and why can women call men stupid bastards, or equally stupid anything, but then not be called a sexist for this comment.

    I am a woman, I am not sexist, but I think a large amount of women are- I can say that because I am a woman and work with some of these men haters??

    Equal rights to men and women is what my movement is.

    I think II is a stupid man or is he/she a woman.. I will not respond to his/her dumb comments any more.

    Mark did retract the stupid cow comment ( re Karen Mathews)though and I am sure he realises saying that rather than evil was a mistake.

    I thought this post was about RCN and Mandatory training which is a must for all those that want it.

  59. Andy
    In what ways did “All” the key professionals involved in this case cock up. Is the health visitor a “Key professional”. It would seem so, so according to Respect she should be sacked. Don’t worry that there is a assive shortage of health visitors!! Social work department are massively understaffed, but Respect says they are “Highly paid” !! Are you really happy for Respects leading members to be arguing this tripe!!
    the great moving right show is back on track with Andy and Mark playing Casey Jones

  60. “why does it seem ok for women to beat men, and possibly children and no one can say a word as its not the thing to be saying ( not PC and labeling every woman as a husband beater/child beater)”

    and who says this? can we have a quote to back this assertion up?
    of course those opposing the demand to sack workers are now attacked as being too PC!! Are you really not a journalist on the SUN!!

  61. So Andy, can you explain where these quotes fit into your narrative of poor misunderstood mark anthony france being bullied for his opinions;

    “Having worked in the past with colleagues in Kirklees Social Services and seen them at parties snorting cocaine then I hope they get their story straight.”

    “hypocritical and judgemental social workers who can afford coke on the weekends”

    And do you think it is acceptable for Socialist Unity to be a place where unsubstantiated sub tabloid smears like that can be made ?
    You said earlier “I am not sure whether Eddie is a bit slow on the uptake” but it is now transparently clear that I and others had maf sussed from the beginning and you are now left defending the indefensible.

  62. mark anthony france on said:

    #69 and #70… ll and Eddie…. niether of you address the key points made by Dr Peter Carter Gen Sec. of the Royal College of Nurses who is working with the Victoria Climbie Foundation. Niether of you make any concrete proposals about what the Labour Movement, Socialists and professionals who whant to support the approach of RCN and the VCF should do practically.
    Neither of you state whether you agree with the “sacking” of Sharon Shoesmith and the Resignations of the Political Leadership of Haringey Council. Neither of you have a word to say on whether the suspension and investigation of other professionals involved the case is right or wrong.

    The entire focus of your contributions is to attempt to ‘shout me down’ and to accuse me of ‘sexism’ or ‘lumpenism’ and to distort simple factual accounts of my own personal experience relevant to the topic of this thread.

    Neither of you listen to the voice of ordinary working class women who have posted here.

    When confronted with a crisis in the Welfare State and growing public debate about what is wrong… what do you call for???? What is your contribution??

    To whinge and to moan about me and in ll’s case an Obsessive Compulsive call for RESPECT to bring me to order.

    Unlike the Socialist Workers Party who recently ‘sacked’ a leading member John Rees …. RESPECT will not ‘sack’ me. Neither will I “resign”. I do not expect members of Respect to agree with me on everything I say or do. What I do expect and am confident to recieve is a voice, a chance to say what i beleive and feel without fear.

    So give up! Address the issues that confront public sector workers not end this pointless offensive against me.

    My position is clear…. it is the same position adopted by ‘Social Workers’ in Cuba who are described as ““army of the healers of the soul,” Where we find the abuse of power, incompetency, corruption we will expose it. Where public servants and state employees fail to do their duty we will expose them. Where we can help we will help, where we can educate we will educate.

    There a 100,000’s of brillant hard working people in the Public Sector who what to do there best to turn paper policy, a great theory, into concrete action and best practice…. They are hampered by most of management and a significant proportion of their colleagues.

    I say to these workers…. speak up, let us hear your voice, you know the problems and you know the answers. Let us get to work.

  63. “I say to these workers…. speak up, let us hear your voice, you know the problems and you know the answers. Let us get to work.”

    thats a bit rich coming from you on the old king cole lol

  64. Anonymous on said:

    #69 II I said I wouldn’t but now I am, as you irritate me.
    In # 67 I was responding to #62, but it took a little while to get on the screen, so by then mine became #67, as you had posted the usual amount of rubbish again. I apologise for not numbering the comment I was responding to.

    So II #69

    ‘….why does it seem ok for women to beat men, and possibly children and no one can say a word as its not the thing to be saying ( not PC and labeling every woman as a husband beater/child beater)”

    and who says this? can we have a quote to back this assertion up?
    of course those opposing the demand to sack workers are now attacked as being too PC!! Are you really not a journalist on the SUN!!

    Comment by ll — 5 December, 2008 @ 4:56 pm

    I said this,after that bit,

    ‘…and why can women call men stupid bastards, or equally stupid anything, but then not be called a sexist for this comment.

    It is me saying this, this is my assertion, my thoughts, is that ok with you? you seem to have a lot of assertions, do I need to back mine up with a quote. I was trying to say that, by a man saying a woman is a stupid cow is apparently sexist, but it is seems to be ok whether verbal or written down or witnesssed that a woman calling men names, or being abusive to them is not OK, but never seems to be classed as sexist etc, or hasn’t been in my experience. It seems to be a taboo subject that women do these things and that no one will say anything about it, because they, if they are a man, might be seen as sexist, a woman hater, wife beater etc. If I as a woman had called another woman a stupid cow- what would I be labeled as??

    This was my point.

    I used this example and a point to make, as to you, and some others, what ever any one says they are either in your/others opinion as right winged sun reader, a racist, as sexist, a fuck wit, a beer drinking woman beater, supports domestic violence towards woman, hates woman, especially single woman, a BNP supporter, a middle class, upper class, lower class, hates all workers type of person, wants workers sacked for no reason what so ever, type of person, and any other label that can be attached to someone that you think suits, oh and a sun journalist.

    Do you have quotes that back your assumptions up?? so give us a break and get back to what the post is about and not somewhere where you can verbally abuse people, and insist you are somesort of leftie super human person, holier than thou( no quotes there, thats my assumption).

    Oh and I did not say this ‘those opposing the demand to sack workers are now attacked as being too pc !!’ where did I say that- can you quote me on this assumption you have yet again made? Nope??

    The point was as I have said, some areas of life and comments are seen as not PC and I used the point that SOME women can be as horrid as SOME men, and are not labelled ( as sexist etc) as it is not seen as the right thing to do or say even if it is true, and I didn’t think it was fair to call someone a sexist because he called someone a stupid cow.

    You are one angry person.

    This is what this post is about

    We know that many health professionals who work with children have not been able to access the training they require since the raid on training budgets during the deficits crisis. We urge all health professionals working with children to get in touch with the RCN or their relevant professional body if they do not have access to mandatory training or if they feel that their concerns are not being heard.”

  65. “Neither of you have a word to say on whether the suspension and investigation of other professionals involved the case is right or wrong.”

    hang on a minute.. you were calling for sackings before an investigation/public enquiry.. you are the judge dread of the SUN. Remember you wanted social workers and other scapegoated on the basis of no facts. The idea that social care staff would want to work with soemone slagging off social workers as overpaid, coke snorting, lazy bastards is frankly a laugh.

    Talking about overpaid.. how is Galloway these days I know it must be hard to survive on a measly £300,000 a year, not like those overpaid and out of touch social workers on £30,000.. oh hang on a minute… work it out!!

  66. mark anthony france on said:

    #74 ll…. you are not listening…. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE ‘SACKING’ OF SHARON SHOESMITH?
    WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE ‘RESIGNATIONS’ IN HARINGEY COUNCIL?
    WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE ‘SUSPENSIONS’ OF KEY PROFESSIONALS ENGAGED IN THE BABY P CASE?
    WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE RCN STATEMENT?
    WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE VICTORIA CLIMBIE FOUNDATION STATEMENT ON THE NEED FOR PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY AND A PUBLIC INQUIRY?

    sorry for shouting….

  67. Inigo Montoya on said:

    #71 – “RESPECT will not ’sack’ me. Neither will I “resign”. I do not expect members of Respect to agree with me on everything I say or do. What I do expect and am confident to recieve is a voice, a chance to say what i beleive and feel without fear.”

    Sorry to break it to you but that’s because you are utterly irrelevant to Respect as anything other than someone to stick flyers through doors, as is pretty much everyone other than Galloway and Salma. You spout your sexist and faintly idiotic crap here and only a few people read it so it’s no odds. It’s just a shame that Galloway’s sexist shit spreads a little further.

  68. back to sexist sexist again…idiotic crap…..a few people read it – so why you bothering to….so its no odds what you say either

  69. mark anthony france on said:

    #78 hello jem….. I have to go now…. off to see the 1981 Hungerstrikes Film ‘hunger’ with Dawn. What do think of the Royal College of Nurses statement at the top of all these contributions???

  70. There is clearly a rather nasty strain of bullying going on here, where mark Anthony is being hounded for expressing views that are both mainstream and common.

    So the big horror is that someone disagrees with you, and might even not be as left wing as the SWP. heresy! Burn the Witch!

    Mark has told you his personal expereinces and situation, so you should be able to work out that he has an emotional as well as intellectual involvement in these issues, but you are harrassing him, jumping on everything he says, twsiting and distorting. then as he is under pressure he is more likely to give ammunition for your squalid bullying.

    Perhaps it might occur to you that for some people, the baby p and Sharon matthew cases reach into their own experiences and touch them at particular personal points of vulnerability – especially parents who may have worries about the welfare of their own children.

    but oh no, this is all an intelectual game to you about provung that you own little group has the “correct line”.

    This shows a truly repulsive side of you – I think you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  71. Andy, just to clarify, Mark did say the following didn’t he, it wasn’t somebody doing the false name thing was it ?

    “Having worked in the past with colleagues in Kirklees Social Services and seen them at parties snorting cocaine then I hope they get their story straight.”
    “hypocritical and judgemental social workers who can afford coke on the weekends”

  72. Thanks to ‘Mikey’ on the AWL site and Dave Oslers blog for pointing out the UNISON response to this;

    SOCIAL CARE WORKERS’ HORROR AT BABY DEATHS

    Social care workers meeting at a UNISON seminar in Manchester today (19 November), expressed their horror and revulsion at the death of baby P and other recent child tragedies.

    In a statement issued from the seminar, UNISON social care workers said:

    “The torture and killing of Baby P at the hands of his mother and carers has rightly horrified and angered the British public. We, in UNISON, share that horror and anger. We feel the same revulsion over the stabbing of two young brothers in Manchester last week – Romario Mullings-Sewell, 2, and his three-month old brother, Delayno. These are appalling tragedies.

    “It is a sad fact that there will always be people that torture and kill babies and children and they will use every means to hide their actions from the world.

    “As a civilized society, we should put in place the best measures we can to protect those most at risk of such treatment and, every day, tens of thousands of children are safe and well thanks to those measures.

    “When something goes wrong, as in the case of Baby P, it is right that we as a society question what went wrong, how it happened and how to prevent it happening again. And it is right that if someone didn’t do their job properly, they should be dealt with. Similarly, if it is the system that is at fault, then it needs to be changed.

    “We, as a society, place an enormous burden on social workers and other child protection professionals. And sometimes it seems that they cannot do right for doing wrong – if they take the child away from abusive parents or carers, they are attacked. If they don’t and the child is subsequently hurt or killed, it’s their fault.

    “If we want social care professionals to do our work for us, we must support them all the way down the line. Far too often, we hear of teams continuing to operate with over 40% of social work posts vacant. We hear of social workers carrying an additional 50% on top of their caseloads. Survey after survey has revealed the high turnover rate that accompanies these huge caseloads. The stress of knowing that at any moment their tenuous grip on the safety of a child could be lost, must be unbearable.

    “Every time there is such a tragedy, there is rightly a huge public outcry, a public inquiry, demands for heads to roll and recommendations to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

    “But some of these recommendations have created a bureaucratic burden which keeps social workers at their desks, away from the children who need them. New IT systems which were supposed to help aren’t working properly. Social workers now feel that there is so much red tape, that it interferes with their ability to protect a child. They should not be intimidated by procedures but should be allowed to do their best for the child.

    “We urge the Government, local authorities and others will influence to give social workers the means to do the job properly.

    “No wonder 70% of local authorities report difficulty in recruiting social workers, average vacancy rate overall running at 12%.

  73. I’ve read through most of this thread and the previous one on this subject. To those on the side of the argument who think it’s OK for social workers to be sacked over this case and any other case like it, I didn’t read anywhere that you tell us how to do the social workers’ job better. I wonder if you could tell us what to do when carers cover up the abuse they are committing? What key signs would YOU notice that slip past these social workers who must, presumably, be either incompetent, negligent, or corrupt. If they are none of these three things, then what are they? And how would you be different? What level of expertise would you have that you would bring to bear on child abuse cases? – always assuming, that is, you had the contact time with the family to bring this expertise to bear.

  74. Michael #83

    I don’t know why clever man like yourself would so wilfully distort the argument, in order to give a liberal veneer of support to those trying to bully and browbeat Mark Anthony.

    Mark may have expressed himslef too loosely, but it is clear that he was calling for a public inquiry to establish the cause of the failures; for those failures to be addressed and only for those responsible to be dismissed.

    If you had any empathy and compassion you would also realise that the baby p case, and the systemic failues of the social work system, especially the excluson of the natural father, have touched mark Anthony deeply and personally. he is emotionally engaged with the issue for all the right reasons, and whether we agree with him or not, he is a good man trying to arue for what would help children and parents.

    Now I don’t necessarily agree with him about everything he has said; but that is different from what you are accusing him of saying.

    We simply don’t know whether the front line social workers were at any fault or not, and even if mistakes were made, these may not have been due to incompetance, but could be due to too great a workload, etc, as you say. We have also known in the past there to be ideological problems, as there are in schools, where sometimes teachers write off children as young as five, as being too stupid and too chavy to be worth spending any time on. ( I know this from may personal experience, so don’t tell me I am not qualified to report a fact I have seen with my own eyes)

    However, if there is too great a workload, then that is an institutional managerial failure. And mark Anthony’s point is that the root cuases of the problem should be addressed.

    Now an inquiry might conclude that the issues were all to do with lack of resources, in which case the buck stops with the politicians, and department directors.

    Or the inquiry may find that there were systemic failures of management culture, or whatever. We don’t know.

    But i certainly wouldn’t rule out the idea that in some cases senior managers should be held accountable for the failures of the regimes they preside over.

    Indeed, it may or may not be the case that some front line worker may have been grossly negligent. Wearing a trade union hat i would still put that blame on management, due to lack of training, supervision, whatever. But if someone is grossly negliegent they should be moved from that job.

    But to simply gloss over the real issues that mark Anthony raises with a condescending and supercilioous “so I suppose you think you could do better” is disappointing from you. Particularly, as you might think that the prespective of how an articulate and left wing person who had expereinced social services from the other side of the desk might be worth listening to, and responding to with respect, even if you don’t agree with him.

    Now clearly Mark ASnthoiny has been bulied in this argument, and is rattled by the intolerant respnse he has got from people shouting him down. he is a working class man with his heart in the right place, so for you as a well known and highly qualified celebrity broadcaster to mock mark Anthony for not having social work qualifications, and say that becaue he is not an “expert” he should not offer an opinion is a bit distasteful really.

    I would think you could be a bit more gracious and treat him with more respect.

    Becasue mark Anthony has been bullied I have stuck up for him, and I have not stressed those areas where I do disagree with him; simply becasue I haven’t joined in the chorus of shouting Mark Anthony down, and I have refuted some of the barbed attacks on him; then people have assumed that I agree with him about everything; and that i am calling for social wrkers to be sacked- which shows a bit of a disapppointing failure to actually critically engage with what other people are saying.

  75. mark anthony france on said:

    #83 Michael Rosen…. As the author of the original post I would like to remind people that I said…

    “So here goes….. After over a decade of New Labour, initiatives like Sure Start, Working Families Tax Credits and campaigns against Domestic Violence millions of children live in poverty witnessing abuse and being subjected to it.

    8 years after Victoria Climbie’s death in Haringey After 5 years of the ‘Every Child Matters Agenda’ which, in part was a product of the Climbie Inquiry we have well paid public servants like Sharon Shoesmith head of Haringey Children and Young Peoples Service [Salary £110,000] and Chair of Haringey’s Safeguarding Children board refusing to acknowledge their responsibility for failing to implement, in practice, the reforms to Child Protection Procedures.

    We have a catalogue of failures by a variety of professionals including Police Child Protection Officers, PCT Mental Health Workers, Health Visitor’s, Housing Support Workers, and last but not least Social Workers who did not implement the common assessment frameworks, multi agency working and information sharing that could have saved Baby P.

    People like Nevres Kemal who tried to expose the failure of Haringey Social Services to implement the recommendations of the Climbie Inquiry or the spirit of the Every Child Matters Agenda have been lied about, stitched up and withchunted.”

    I went on to say..

    The extent of the injustice perpetrated upon Baby P, is a symptom of a deeper paralysis that affects statutory Health, Social and Educational Services when confronted with the complexities of social problems in the 21st Century. Nowhere is this paralysis more acute than in relationship with meeting the needs of Children. The failure of the Welfare State to meet the needs of the most vulnerable must be addressed by Socialists.”

    All of this was published on 25th November a week before Ed Ball Press conference announcing the ‘removal’ of Sharon Shoesmith from her post.

    I made a series of proposals at the end of my origninal article, including..

    Socialists should support the calls for a full Public Inquiry into the Death of Baby P.

    Socialists should be part of the wider debate about the real nature and extent of child abuse, intimate abuse, and domestic violence in society.

    Socialists should champion the implementation in practice of the Every Child Matters agenda and expose those who are obstructing this process.”

    There are plenty of caring people including 100,000’s of ordinary people living on low incomes who already have a wealth of practical knowledge of how to identify the multitude forms of neglect and abuse that exist in their communities. Many of them already try to engage in actions and interventions designed to support their neighbours and friends who are struggling to cope.

    There a 100,000’s of people who have worked in social care jobs in the community or in Supporting People funded projects or in the voluntary and community sector… who have a wealth of knowledge about the sort of practical work that can be down to identify neglect and abuse and provide support and intervention to make things better.

    What these people often report is that formal Social Service interventions are often ‘hamfisted’ or ‘start barking up the wrong tree’. The professionals often contrained the culture of their department wear a rigid mask to prevent authentic relationship building both with ‘clients’ and other agencies.

    Michael it is sometimes really simple… Dawn above reported that the concerns of a father about abuse being suffered by his daughter which led to a violent confrontation with one of the suspected abusers during which another of the suspected abusers in full view of 20 witnesses violently assaulted her own daughter…. led to a Social Services ‘assessment’.

    The person who first wanted to raise the issue of the abuse was presented as a ‘perpertrator’ and was the only person to get criminal charges laid against them… and then had to suffer the indignity of being allowed only to see his daughter in a supervised ‘contact centre’ for 2 entire years. Eventually, it was sorted, the daughters original wish to live with her father eventually happened [and she was able to escape the abuse].

    It is not rocket science, Michael, what could have been done different in this little case??

    The police could have acted on the clear agreement of the witnesses that the Daughters mother carried out a violent assault against her own daughter. This could have led to a ‘restorative justice’ approach where a meeting of the various parties concerned came together with a community mediator… The focus of such ‘resorative justice’ approach would not be on vengence, retribution or punishment but on truth telling, accountability and reparations. In this process the needs of the abused daughter would be paramount.

    One of the big issues in this entire debate…. is that the truth is abuse and neglect is massively widespread… and this is not just a source of ‘shame’ for the individuals involved but a source of ‘shame’ for our whole society… The politics of ‘Shame’ needs to be addressed here.

    There is a mountain of excellent academic material on child abuse, and it’s consequences for sociely,and a mountain of academic material on approaches like early intervention theory amoung many others…

    What is the problem here is the huge apparently unbrigable gulf between theory and practice. What is clear is that the current approach towards organising ‘interventions’ in troubled families is not working.

    The big, big problem is that we are entering the ‘mother of all Recessions’ and all the social problems like economic disadvantage, domestic violence, etc.etc, etc will deepen….

    The welfare state needs a simpler, more rapid, more community focused, mechanism to join up all agencies, via a common assessment mechanism that will experiment with innovative ways of helping…..

    Among one of the most important innovations that needs to be looked at is assissting fathers, to play a role in their childrens lives… for example one of the reasons Karen Matthews started to drug Shannon was that she wanted to go to live with her dad and biological brother in Huddersfield. Karen needed to ‘keep’ her for a number of ‘psychological’ and ‘financial’ reasons.
    Why wasn’t Shannon allowed to go to her dads??

    Why are there numerous examples of Health, Education, and Social Service professionals who appear to take a negative view of the potential of fathers to play a role in preventing abuse and neglect of children… Why is it that significant others in childrens lives who are male are exclude from decision making processes affecting their children?

    Working together to answer questions like those above in a calm and democratic fashion is the first set to changing the culture of Social Services and to improve the efficiency of the Welfare State.

    In the coming period of deepening social crisis making urgent changes will be a life and death issue for increasing numbers of children.

  76. mark anthony france on said:

    Thanks Andy…. and by the way has anyone noticed that references to the ‘UNDERCLASS’ have risen expotentially since Dec 1st??
    I have commented on other threads that the usage of this term was increasing throughout the first few years of the Century then abruptly dropped off to almost nothing.

    The moment of the change can be pin pointed.

    7/7/05 Bombs in London… planted by underclass lads from Dewsbury leeds and Huddersfield.

    Dec 1st was a smaller Bombshell…. but has actually embolded media commentators to talk about the UNDERCLASS again.

    As a member of this Underclass…. I do not find the usage of the term helpfull.

  77. mark anthony france on said:

    Oh just found this from the Telegraph on why Baby P’s dad has not made comment on the case.

  78. um, no on said:

    “The moment of the change can be pin pointed.

    7/7/05 Bombs in London… planted by underclass lads from Dewsbury leeds and Huddersfield.”

    This just isn’t true, Mark. The term didn’t come back into use because of the 7/7 bombs or bombers. I voraciously read the media at that time, and the word was hardly used at all.

    It just happens that “underclass” carries with it the imperative that these are people we should look after. The reason that “chav” has been used so much is because it represents a group of people we can “despise” instead of feel sorry for.

    You are way off the mark when you talk about the word “underclass” only coming back into use after 7/7.

  79. mark anthony france on said:

    #89 er um no…. i think you misunderstood …. the term as far as my perceptions are concerned was in increasing usage from the end of the 1990’s up till the 7/7 bombs and then disappeared…… Since Shannon Matthews ‘kidnap’ the word Underclass began to creep back into public discourse and since Ed Balls press confernce on Dec 1st the term underclass has exploded into daily usage again.

    I make no particular ‘judgement’ of why this is happening its just an observation…maybe it means nothing… or maybe it does.

    Am I am member of an Underclass or the Working Class? In the coming recession perhaps the Underclass will grow?? who will lead them? Or will they be the collective folk devil and scapegoat for the petit bourgeois commentariat?
    Will it take some more bombs to stop people using the term?

  80. mark anthony france on said:

    By the Way if any wants to access the latest guidance on how “Children’s Trusts” should operate in local areas…As refered to in the RCN Statement on Baby P…. then visit..
    http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/aims/childrenstrusts/

    oh yes #90 The whole stuff around ‘chavs’ is interesting… some people say its an anacronym for Council Housed And Violent…. but as someone from a Roma background I remember we just used it as a term for ‘kids’ chav [boychild] chavi [girlchild] …. I learnt this terms among others like “gorgio” for the people who controlled the lands we travelled through… the ones with power.

  81. I named no one, bullied no one. I made the observation that across the whole two threads no one addressed the issue of what social workers are supposed to do face to face with people who are covering up abuse. I wasn’t talking about anything else. The reason why I wasn’t saying anything else, is because the whole apparatus of outrage about social workers boils down to this face to face question. If those face to face encounters are not frequent enough, or are too short, that is absolutely nothing to do with those social workers in that face to face situation. And, I suspect, almost nothing to do with ‘management’ and everything to do with the total situation vis a vis ‘welfare’ in this country.

    I didn’t misrepresent anyone’s argument because I didn’t have an issue with anyone’s argument. I just pointed out a stunning lack of anyone rising above the morass of blame to say, that in the face to face encounter, one should do x, y, and z and it is clear that these social workers did not do x, y and z and what’s more the reason why they didn’t do x,y and z is because they wilfully ignored guidelines and instructions.

    So if no one is saying that, then what is being claimed here? Turning what I’m saying here into a ‘oh dear Michael, we would have expected more from you’ is just a red herring and a load of patronising crap. And, again, turning what I was saying into an attack on one individual is complete lies as well. This argument of mine is with the massed chorus of people who seem to be sure that the ‘social workers are to blame’ not one individual. And quite why you keep bringing up the personal circumstances of that individual smacks of something a bit creepy. Weyhey…rack back, man.

    The social workers didn’t kill anyone. Other people did that. I suspect a massive displacement of rage going on here, where people can’t bear to face up to the horror of abuse within a family, so they heap blame and rage on the social services.

  82. Actually Michael I think your comments were fair and ones I am happy to concur with.

    You are so right when you state “The social workers didn’t kill anyone. Other people did that. I suspect a massive displacement of rage going on here, where people can’t bear to face up to the horror of abuse within a family, so they heap blame and rage on the social services”.

    Try looking at my blog for a different viewpoint on the Baby P case.

  83. Michael Rosen #92: “I named no one,”

    How disingenuous. Only one person, mark Anthony France, had made the argument that you were arguign against! So without naming him, who else could you mean?

    And generally, if you look through this thread there has been considerable bullying of mark Anthony, with people shouting him down.

    So in that context, for you to join in , with the supercilious “so you think you could do better”, does exactly add your liberal veneer of approval to the chorus of abuse that he has been subjected to on this thread.

  84. Jeez, what is YOUR problem,Andy? As it happens, I thought that several people, including you, agreed with MAF! Withoout looking back, wasn’t there a woman…’Dawn’, no? So perhaps you can put your suspicions back in the paranoid box.

    As for ‘bullying’ – how bizarre. MAF seems to have been able to stick up for himself, and keep on posting. The fact that some people disagreed with him (after all, he did seem to be in favour of sacking social workers, who are themselves on the receiving end of a massive amount of real bullying both from their bosses and eg petitions of a hundred thousand or some such from the ‘Sun’. If you call what goes on here ‘bullying’ then what do you call that?

    There is absolutely nothing supercilious about what I’m saying. The boot’s on the other foot. The only people supercilious round here are people saying, yes, they could do better than the social workers. That’s what supercilious means. I never claimed I was better than anyone. So you can fuck off with that particular insult.

    And then ‘liberal’? What?! What’s so fucking liberal about accusing people of rounding on social workers? I don’t have any sense of that being liberal? If you wanted to accuse me of being ‘ouvrieriste’ about it, I might agree. But ‘liberal’?! You’re getting your leftist insults confused. You’ll be accusing me of being tsvostist in a minute.

    If you can’t take the robust argument on your own website, then don’t dish it.

  85. mark anthony france on said:

    #95…. Michael …. Hello! I am a real fan of your work… what a privaledge to be ignored by you in virtual reality.

    As far as I am concerned Andy Newman… has not ‘defended’ me without any reservations but has rightly pointed out my emotional vulnerabilities in this discussion. A few individuals have contributed to the discussion including my wife ‘Dawn’.

    Andy I think, used the expression ‘loose formulation’ to criticise my previous article on Baby P. He may be correct I wrote the preveious piece in a few hours. Shortly after a conversation with a young woman from essex called Stacey Crisp… who was one of the ‘ordinary’ working class people who were so horrified by the implications of the Baby P case, and so annoyed by the arrogant statements of Sharon Shoesmith [Until recently the much admired chair of Haringey Child Safeguarding Board and head of Children and young peoples Services and Social Services in Haringey, whose praises were extolled by 61 Head Teachers in the Haringey Borough in the aftermath of the release of the seriously flawed executive summmary of the Serious Case Review into the death of Baby P.]

    I freely admit that I wrote my post in a moment of emotional engagement… because I have been a victim of the ‘crap’ way in which ‘child protection’ procedures have been carried out in this country… and I have met many, many other ordinary people who have seen their children suffer continued abuse or suffered abuse themselves by the very institutions and structures that are meant to protect them.

    All of us who have been through this mill are patient, after the Victoria Climibie we were filled with hope.

    Some of us thought that the government agenda after the 2004 Children’s Act actually meant something. Some of us actuallly thought Every Child Matters meant something.

    In huge swathes of the nation… Every Child doesn’t Matter… just some.

    Andy made reference in an earlier contribution to his understanding that in his local state school many ‘boys’ are being ‘failed’..

    As a parent I can confirm this…. my ‘boy’ is being ‘failed’ and ‘excluded’.

    I have great respect for you Michael as I have great respect for Andy Newman….. but it appears that the preconditions for a theraputic relationship have not been established between me and you…. I am addressing you as a human being, as a person directly. I have given much of myself, much of my energy to this discussion. I ask you to relate to me.

    I have never, and I repeat never, supported any kind of ‘witchunt’ against Social Work as a profession… I have 3 decades of involvement in numerous struggles against oppression and for a better world…

    Maybe if I restricted my call to some vague formulation about Public Accountability for what went wrong in Haringey then much of the venom directed against me would not have happened…. Instead I chose the formulation…

    “Socialist should support the calls for the resignation and or sacking of the key professionals involved in this case” [ie the Baby P Case in Harringey]

    I do not regret this formulation.

    I genuinely feel that the people involved could, and should have done more to protect this child.

    They did a bad job.

    I absolutely accept all the arguements that workers have to work under the direction and management of their bosses…and the culture of their workplace… and the constraits of their perceptions of ‘procedure’….

    Workers also have another option…. and it is not an easy route to take.

    Workers can ‘do the right thing’

    Workers can resign…. workers can speak out… workers can show solidarity with other workers who challenge a corrupt and wrong set of ‘custom and practice’… workers can use their collective strength through their UNION to change things for the better..

    As far as I can see the only worker in Haringey who attempted to persue this course of action was Nevres Kemal.
    … and what happened to her??

    When something is rotten…. to the core…. it is very difficult to challenge.

    Unfortunately… much of our society is ‘rotten to the core’…

    The little child who cries out ‘the emperor has no clothes’
    is often ignored.

    Just as the little child who is suffering intolerable abuse and has done so for a long time is not even ‘touched’ or ‘talked with’ by ‘professionals’… who scurry back to their PC’s…. to complete their ‘tick boxes’.

    Peter Carter of the RCN and in conjunction with the Victoria Climbie Foundation….have a different approach…

    We should listen to them.

  86. Andy, having failed to get Michael Rosen on message with the patronising “I don’t know why clever man like yourself”, you then resort to denigrating his opinion by the casual use of the word “liberal” as a term of abuse, along with “supercilious”.
    Andy, if anyone has acted as an internet bully in this appalling episode it is you.
    In your defence of mark anthony france, you repeatedly accused me of being a liar, you said that the opinions you disagree with “shows a truly repulsive side of you – I think you should be ashamed of yourselves”.
    In this exchange you have repeatedly accused anyone who disagrees with Mark Anthony France as being a bully.
    Andy, that is real bullying, not the invented kind that you use to try and silence critics of the appalling sub tabloid social worker witch hunt that you have hosted here on Socialist Unity over the past week or so.
    Mark Anthony France has denigrated socials workers as being highly paid, he has made unsubstantiated allegations of Kirklees Social Services using illegal substances as proof of their rottenness and you have backed him up with pseudo intellectual arguments against “professionalism”.
    And as Michael Rosen notes, on not one single occasion has either one of you come up with a positive alternative to how social workers involved in either the Baby P case or others should have acted.
    Despite your earlier attempts to denigrate critics of Mark Anthony France as being members of the SWP, I am certainly not.
    I am a member of the Scottish Socialist Party whose partner is a criminal justice social worker who has to deal with the reality of cases like Baby P on a daily basis.
    The fast that you dismiss out of hand the experience of those comrades and denigrate their opinions is utterly shameful.
    If Mark Anthony France has had experiences which make give him a particular feeling of affinity for tose who attack social workers, I am truly sorry.
    But he is not the only one and not all of those people feel inclined to make unsubstantiated and reactionary attacks on social workers.

  87. No i NEVER said that the social workers should be sacked, nor anything like it. So part of my “problem” is the lies and misrepresentaion that has gone through this argument.

    Dawn is mark Anthony’s partner. Of course that doesn’t invalidate her own independent opinion, but i don’t recall her saying that social workers should be sacked either, what she did do was stick up for mark Anthony, when he was being misrepresented and bullied.

    My “problem” is that it is clear reading through this thread and the previous one that there has been a large number of deeply unpleasant attacks on Mark Anthony, distorting his arguments and insulting him from the likes of ll, Dave Festive, and the other nasty pieces of work; and it is quite clear from reading Mark Anthony’s own contributions that he has been rattled and upset by the nature of the attacks, and he has personal reasons why this is important to him – so it is emotional bullying to use that sort of nasty political trolling against him.

  88. eddie #97

    Where have I backed up mark anthony’s comments about Kirklees social workers?

    You say: “And as Michael Rosen notes, on not one single occasion has either one of you come up with a positive alternative to how social workers involved in either the Baby P case or others should have acted.”

    Why is it incumbent upon me to do that? I have never expressed any opinion of how they acted, nd I have never made any recomendation about what should happen to them.

    I have offered almost no opinon of the baby p case at all.

    the only cautious comment i did make about the baby p case were endorsed in the subsequent comments by a social work manager as useful.

  89. 1. I wasn’t ‘ignoring’ you. I was choosing not to mention you by name so that the discussion was about the issue and not about individuals. However, Andy seems intent on mentioning your personal circumstances each time he writes about you. This makes limiting the argument to the issues rather difficult. He’ll have to figure out why he needs to do that.

    2. In our society, there is actually no way in which the lowest grade social workers can behave in a totally human way. You know and I know that the consequences of how this society divides, oppresses, exploits, diminishes, squashes, junks people are horrific. To take just one example, we know that people who feel utterly powerless, may end up cowering in the corner, or they may fight against their powerlessness by exerting power (or trying to exert power) over the people in their lives who are even weaker than them.

    3. This catastrophic situation is not caused by social workers. Social workers are hired by the state to mop up some of this disaster. It is an impossible and thankless task. To take one example, the requirement that child ‘x’ should stay with his family, may well be in direct contradiction with the requirement that child ‘x’ should be protected by the state, which in turn may be in direct contradiction with the fact that when child ‘x’ is placed in care, that child is then abused.

    4. Social workers cannot solve the problems that are put in front of them. All they can do is try to alleviate some of them. Perhaps.

    5. It is absolutely no surprise that social workers may make mistakes, may be (on a personal level) shitty people, may produce rigid bits of dogma about what is the right and wrong way to eg bring up children, protect children etc etc.

    6. The massive chorus of voices demanding that social workers be sacked hasn’t engaged with any of this. The claim is that the social workers are guilty. The horrific lives of the children who’ve made the headlines, wasn’t meted out by the social workers. All that happened is that social workers full of instructions as to what to do with families where abuse is suspected have gone into homes and made assessments about what’s going on. We frequently get glimpses of how the adults doing the abuse are stunningly successful in hiding what it is that they’re doing, preventing the ‘correct’ procedures from being carried out. Some people have highlighted the fact that the social workers didn’t have access to the child(ren) on their own. This is absurd. Very young hildren who are being abused don’t suddenly turn to a stranger, the moment their parents are out the room and reveal what’s going on.

    7. This chorus of abuse is predicated on an ugly assumption that if they had been in that situation they could have saved the child(ren). Why? On what basis? And who’s to say, that if the child had been taken away, that it wouldn’t have been contested and the child returned. What has happened is that a national newspaper with no commitment to money being spent on social services has whipped up people’s horror at what’s happened, and instead of talking through these issues, it’s created a lynch mob.

    8. I’m confused about how I feel about the boss. Presumably she has been implementing nulab work practices and cuts by the ton. Even so, she isn’t ‘responsible’ for the child’s death. She is being scapegoated too.

    9. The Ofsted ‘mea culpa’ is just par for the course. These systems of inspection and reporting are themselves highly problematic. They don’t guarantee anything.

    10. With my work in schools, I’ve come to the conclusion that the only thing that guarantees good practice is the kind of work practice that encourages the emotional, physical and intellectual development of all its practitioners. This means completely rethinking how we view training and work itself. It requires that training never ends, that the teachers/social workers etc are in charge of their own training, that the people on the frontline (classroom teachers/social workers with casework etc)research their own practice, create their own training forums and processes. Management should really be a matter of helping these processes take place. Top-down instructions, diktats, work norms, etc is an utterly futile, demoralising, deskilling process, which ends up with things being worse than they were before these so called ‘professional’ procedures were introduced, much of which is informed by US management practice, imported into nulab politics and testosterone politics about ‘closing schools’, ‘kicking ass’ and all that. I suggest that a regime that bullies teachers and bullies social workers helps create teachers and social workers who bully their ‘clients’ (excuse the terminology, please).

  90. mark anthony france on said:

    #97 Eddie….Leave Andy alone. What has your contribution got to do with the RCN’s description of ‘dire’ child protection serveice in England?
    Where have I made allegations that social workers are ‘highly paid’?
    In my origninal article I only mentioned two social workers by name ‘Sharon Shoesmith’ and ‘Nevres Kemal’
    I mentioned Sharon Shoesmiths salary of £110,000 per annum.

    I defended Nevres Kemal and clearly said Sharon Shoesmith should be ‘sacked’…… and a week later she was ‘removed’ from her post.

    As for ‘unsubstanciated ‘attacks’ on Kirklees Social Workers…. They are not ‘unsubstanciated’….. I am a ‘witness’ to ‘bad practice’…. I am a ‘witness’ to ‘completely unprofessional behaviour’ …. I am a ‘witness’ to ‘gross misconduct’…..

    and if anyone want to ask me about this I will tell the ‘truth’ as I understand it… as I ‘witnessed’ it.

    I have no desire for vengence…. I am not a vindictive person… I understand the common humanity that we all share I understand all of our shared vulnerabilties living in a decadent late capitalism, where we have lost virtually all sense of shared common purpose… lost something precious.

    When I spoke with [briefly] Stacy Crisp on the morning of the 25th November…. I spoke with a young working class woman who was…. er… waking up….er going through a process of ‘radicalisation’…. maybe even in ‘danger’ of becoming ‘extremist’ …. I don’t know. She seemed genuinely concerned that child abuse should stop…Full Stop… and that the current way that social services operated was not helping to stop child abuse…

    There is a long tradition…. a very long tradition… built painfully through experience of how those who are ‘struggling’ towards a better world should converse with each other.

    When the Chartists first began to meet… across England… Meetings often fell into chaos… and personal discord. They had to learn how to ‘tolerate’ and seek to ‘understand’ and ‘accomodate’ and ‘incorporate’ and ‘include’ and ‘accept’ all sort of opinions and views into their meetings… They did so successfully and built a huge mass movement …. that actually improved the lives of the people involved.

    We, today, need to re-learn some lessons that laid the basis of ‘social democracy’, labour movement democracy, ‘socialist democracy’ again.

    If you do consider me Mark Anthony France to be ‘beyond the pale’ then I would just like to remind you of subsequent Irish History. Those who were ‘beyond the pale’ did not, have not and will not give in.

  91. Michael Rosen #100

    Top-down instructions, diktats, work norms, etc is an utterly futile, demoralising, deskilling process, which ends up with things being worse than they were before these so called ‘professional’ procedures were introduced, much of which is informed by US management practice, imported into nulab politics and testosterone politics about ‘closing schools’, ‘kicking ass’ and all that. I suggest that a regime that bullies teachers and bullies social workers helps create teachers and social workers who bully their ‘clients’ (excuse the terminology, please).

    Absolutely, this is the point I have been trying to make in this debate all along. And this is the point I have made about “professionalism” that eddie truman has so misrepresented.

    many of the “clients” find the experience of dealing with the welfare and education systems disempowering, and like a set of arbitrary and bureaucratic rules. naturally those middle class “clients” who can talk the talk will find it easier to negotiate the system than those who are less advantaged.

    So the solution is not just “more money and resources” – although that is obvioulsy nalso necesary – but we also need a questioning of the current ideologogy and practices.

    Michael Rosen brillinatly describes the current shortcomings, and sketches out how it could be better in comment #100.

    let’s hope we can all be friends now.

    :o)

  92. Michael #100

    However, Andy seems intent on mentioning your personal circumstances each time he writes about you. This makes limiting the argument to the issues rather difficult. He’ll have to figure out why he needs to do that.

    Well I am always happy to elarn why i am worng, and where I can improve.

    I just thught it was relevent to explain that mark is a real person with real experience, and real feelings after the way he had been lambasted and caraicatured in this debate.

    It seems michael that I was wrong about your input, and your intentions, and I unreservedly apologise.

  93. We can today see what the real agenda of the Murdoch press over the Baby P case and the Shannon Matthews kidnap.

    It was and is NOT about protecting vulnerable children (who ofcourse deserve all the best care and safeguards possible). The real agenda was to soften up the public for massive cuts in the benfit system and the privatisation of public services – while working people attack each other and the Child Care system then they are less likely and able to protest about the dismantling of what’s left of the welfare state:

    Welfare mothers to be forced to work – The Times today
    ALMOST all benefit claimants will be forced either to look for a job or prepare for work if they want to continue to receive state handouts, under a shake-up of the welfare state.

    Single mothers of children as young as one and people registered unfit for work will be compelled to go on training courses and work experience or risk cuts to their benefits.

    In an interview with The Sunday Times, James Purnell, the work and pensions secretary, said: “Virtually everyone will be doing something in return for their benefits.”

    The welfare reform white paper, to be published this week, is set to provoke anger from rebel Labour MPs and campaign groups who believe such measures are unfair in a period of rising unemployment.

    The conviction of Karen Matthews for kidnapping her daughter Shannon has shown the perverse consequences of the welfare system. Matthews, who had seven children, had never worked and was existing on £400 a week in benefits.

    The government will also announce plans to:

    – Reform housing benefit to ensure the jobless can no longer live in large houses courtesy of the taxpayer.

    – Allow companies to bid for contracts to place the long-term unemployed in work.

    – Introduce a medical testing regime for people on incapacity benefit.

    – Impose US-style “work-fare” schemes forcing those who refuse to take jobs to work in return for benefits.

    At the core of the reforms is the proposal to divide benefit claimants into three groups.

    The first group is made up of unemployed people on jobseeker’s allowance. From 2010, single mothers whose youngest child is aged seven or over will be moved from income support to the allowance. Lone parents now remain on income support until their children reach 16.

    The second group will include about 400,000 single parents whose youngest child is aged between one and six, and more than 2m people claiming incapacity benefit. These claimants will face job centre interviews before being forced to undertake training courses or unpaid work placements.

    A third group, including seriously disabled people and mothers of young babies, will continue to receive “unconditional” benefits.

    There is expected to be legislation next year detailing the powers to be given to benefits advisers to compel claimants to attend official interviews.

    Those who fail to turn up could have their benefits cut. Under one proposal being considered, a first offence would result in a claimant losing £12, rising to £24 for a second offence. Repeat offenders could forfeit all their benefits for four weeks and would have only essential bills paid.

    The basic rate of income support and jobseeker’s allowance is £60.50 a week.

    Purnell said his scheme was “not about stigmatising anybody”.

    He said sanctions would be a last resort and the thrust of the reforms was to provide “personalised advice”.

    Purnell sought to reassure parents of young children that they would be given assistance finding childcare. “The conditionality would be very different for a one-year-old compared to a six-year-old,” he said.

    The new approach would make women like Matthews work rather than rely on welfare, he said.

    Terry Rooney, the Labour chairman of the work and pensions select committee, warned that Purnell’s plan would prompt a backbench rebellion when it was debated in the Commons.

    “This will lead to a bureaucratic nightmare with tens of thousands of people being called in for interview and then being sent home again,” he said.

    “The key question on lone parents is whether childcare is available. In most cases, it is not.”

    The Conservatives expressed doubts about the clampdown on lone parents. Chris Grayling, the shadow work and pensions secretary, said: “I don’t think these measures will actually work. Britain urgently needs real welfare reform to end the entitlement culture.”
    …………………..
    I doubt very much that we will see SUN newspaper campaign pointing out the risk to children if mothers/fathers are forced to use cheap (unregistered) child minders while they ar forced out to work. Can you imagine a SUN lead demo outside evry local DWP office complaining about these benefit cuts!!

    So lets wake up and start to realise what the real agenda is of the Murdoch and Tory press when they attack Social Workers and other public sector workers. They will steal the money from the poor to pay for their wars in Iraq and Aghanistan and the £billions given away to the banks!

    Neil Williams

  94. “Terry Rooney, the Labour chairman of the work and pensions select committee, warned that Purnell’s plan would prompt a backbench rebellion when it was debated in the Commons.”

    Blimey! Terry Rooney has discovered a back bone as he was supportive of the Welfare Reform Act!!

  95. I have just posted this article from the Guardian on the Respect Supporters Blog – I think it tells us all we need to know about why so many children are ‘at risk’.
    http://respectuk.blogspot.com/
    ……………………..

    Baby P – the reality of Social Work today: ‘Only a matter of time …’

    “I’m frustrated. My clients are frustrated. I bear the brunt of it. ” Illustrations: Thea Brine

    Amid the review and recriminations following the death of Baby P, an experienced social worker describes a caseload so overwhelming that tragedy is a daily possibility (sorry its a long article but its very important and gives a more progressive outlook on the reality of protecting children today – what you wont read in the SUN and Daily Mail!).

    It’s Friday. I drop my own child off at school early, so I can arrive at a foster carer’s home on time at 8.20am to collect a child in care and transport him to school. The foster carer has three children to take to different schools, so she can’t help us out. We’re short-staffed, and no one else is available to do this today. It’s the third time this week.

    Following this, I rush back to the office. I attend two child protection case conferences. Then four home visits, and a joint investigative interview with the Police Family Protection Unit – a coordinated interview conducted by a police officer and a social worker to gather evidence for criminal proceedings and to determine the immediate level of risk in relation to a child’s safety and protection.

    I also take 16 phone calls from clients, foster carers, criminal justice workers, health visitors and schools. One client is due to be evicted. A domestic incident. A family with no money for the weekend. A child exhibiting sexualised behaviour in the school playground. Some calls are worrying, but I can’t respond. I have to focus on the task at hand. I quickly inform my line manager.

    “No one available,” he tells me. “They’ll have to wait until next week.”

    There are not enough hours in the day. It’s dangerous practice. “Prioritising” is a buzzword. “Crisis” is another. A daily occurrence in my line of work.

    Every day my office is the same. A metropolis of chaos. Things are deteriorating. Extreme stress predominates. Tempers flare. We complain incessantly on behalf of our clients, for our sanity.

    “There will be no new social workers employed. Live with it.”

    The writing’s on the wall. We all know it. Cutting budgets. Cutting corners.

    The child, who was interviewed by me and the Police Family Protection Unit, is 11 and alleges that his father assaulted him. He shows me extensive bruising across his back. It looks suspect. I’m concerned.

    I know the drill. After brief discussions with senior management, a variety of decisions are made. The child cannot return home. He needs to be examined medically for a professional opinion. A police photographer is required. We need to determine if parents agree to voluntary accommodation.

    They do, fortunately, or it would have included a late-night trip to apply for a child protection order.

    After two hours in a busy children’s hospital, the paediatrician provides his diagnosis: non-accidental injury; child hit with excessive force several times with an unknown implement.

    We place a distressed child in foster care, an hour’s drive away. I get home at 11.15pm. Exhausted. My daughter is asleep.

    Procedurally, I have generated massive amounts of repetitive paperwork. Every day impacts upon the next.

    Managing risk

    On Monday, I’ll be expected to meticulously record my four home visits, detailing concerns and/or any progress made. It’s all about managing risk. The days of preventive social work are long gone.

    If it’s not child protection, you’ve no chance of receiving a service. We know that before you walk through the door or lift a telephone. If you’ve forced a service by talking to your MP or someone with influence, it will be wholly inadequate. Complaints are commonplace.

    As a result of my two child protection case conferences, I’ll have to facilitate and implement intricate child protection plans. This involves letters to professionals, phone calls, lengthy written referrals to various agencies, and specialised resources – a parenting group, perhaps, addiction services, mental health – recording it all on our computer system so I can provide evidence I have completed these tasks.

    I know as I write these referrals that, in most cases, my clients will wait for months for a service – if they receive one at all. These “resources” we rely on have been reduced to a bare minimum, and are still diminishing rapidly.

    I’m frustrated. My clients are frustrated. I bear the brunt of it.

    If funding is required, another few weeks are likely to pass as bureaucrats make decisions about people they know nothing about. I’ve become accustomed to the word “no”.

    I’ll have to complete a 30-page child protection report for the joint investigative interview I conducted and include all relevant information from all relevant professionals; I’ll need to complete extensive LAAC (looked-after and accommodated children) paperwork for my newly placed child in care; organise a planning meeting; arrange a review to set up a care plan; ensure he has everything he needs; visit to see how he is and discuss what will happen; provide money to his foster carer to purchase things he might need; make plans to get him to and from school for the duration of his placement; talk to his irate parents in detail about our concerns; contact all those involved with him as part of my assessment; arrange and supervise contact with his parents, if appropriate; let the children’s reporter know so that he or she can arrange a children’s panel, which will require a long and very detailed report at a later date. And all this will have to be meticulously recorded on our computer system.

    Oh, and there’s the matter of dealing with the other 43 cases I have.

    The only problem I have is this: on Monday, I have two children’s hearings scheduled (four hours gone, travel time included). I have two child protection visits planned (I have to visit children on the Child Protection Register once weekly, and I have 13 children in total who are registered, most of whom can only be seen after school), and have to supervise a two-hour contact between a mother and her three children, adhering to decisions made by a children’s panel. This doesn’t include transport time and collecting/dropping off the children from their respective placements.

    Firing line

    This family are lucky. Some children’s panel decisions are ignored. Not enough staff. I’ll be in the firing line at these children’s hearings, explaining – as we do until we’re blue in the face – that there are not enough resources or social workers to enable us to do the job effectively. Panel members should cite senior management to explain these difficulties. We have no control over such matters.

    Monday will be another late finish. No doubt about it. I’ll have clients on the phone, too, tearfully telling me they can’t cope, demanding to see me, asking for money, requesting support, abusive and threatening phone calls from angry parents, solicitors requesting information, police, advocacy workers, health visitors, schools, nurseries, psychologists and therapists, criminal justice workers, housing officers, doctors, medical specialists, and a range of other professionals trying to elicit or provide pertinent information. And it all needs to be recorded on “the system”.

    Tuesday looks pretty much the same.

    How do I cope?

    I don’t. I’m struggling, big time. But this is social work today. My caseload is high. I’m feeling the pressure. My manager is burned out. He observes me through vacant eyes, offering tokenistic support. It’s November. I’ve not had supervision since June. He keeps cancelling. I’ve told him repeatedly I’m sinking. I’ve told him I have clients I haven’t seen for months.

    No offer to reduce my caseload is forthcoming. Instead, I am allocated another two. “Sorry, but there’s no one else.”

    They’d rather have a serious case that cannot be dealt with on my caseload than a managerial waiting list of unallocated cases. That way, I can take the flak if anything goes wrong. That’s the way it works. They know you cannot work all your cases. My clients cannot possibly receive an acceptable level of service.

    My overtime is reaching the limit allowed, mostly through writing reports at home at night in order to get through part of the work.

    I look around and my colleagues are all feeling the pressure too. Several of them are off on long-term sick leave, and some have left in the last few months for less pressurised jobs. They will not be replaced. Budget deficit, we’re told.

    My daughter’s going mad because she never sees me.

    I’m reading about vulnerable children like Baby P in the papers. I listen to the debates. People are angry, and rightly so.

    It hurts. It could have been avoided. It could have been prevented. Another life lost unnecessarily.

    I know it’s going to happen in my local authority soon. It’s only a matter of time. The warning signs are evident.

    We complain, loudly and incessantly.

    The writing is on the wall.

    We all know it. Cutting budgets. Cutting corners.

    Tragic mistakes

    Where such tragic mistakes are made, inquiries are vital, but not always helpful. They rarely tell us anything we don’t already know.

    Lack of inter-agency communication.

    Lack of multi-agency communication.

    Lack of training (no time).

    Lack of supervision (no time).

    Unqualified social work staff undertaking complex assessments.

    Believe me, it happens. Regularly.

    We are “ordered” to organise files fastidiously for inspections – overtime if necessary in order to improve our image. So boxes can be ticked. A pat on the back for the bureaucrats. Inspections are planned well in advance. We’re “encouraged” to portray the authority in a positive light when talking to inspectors.

    There should be regular independent ad hoc inspections, with inspectors walking in without any prior notice, demanding to see files, checking the systems, talking to clients, talking to frontline staff. They should be spending extended periods of time analysing and carefully examining practice.

    The system is immobilised. Flawed.

    The system has failed. Again.

    In my local authority, senior management ignore our pleas. They are ineffective and lack vision. They fail to act. Bureaucrats completely out of touch with frontline workers and the demands we face.

    Middle management are completely powerless, incapable of bringing about the changes necessary.

    Frontline managers juggle impossible conflicting demands. A few of these keep fighting on, avoiding the inevitable meltdown. For the rest, apathy grows. They have become unproductive.

    These are dangerous, dangerous times in child protection.

    I’m a very experienced social worker, working for one of the largest and busiest social work departments in Scotland. I am responsible for enhancing and improving the quality of life for the families with whom I work, accountable for protecting the children on my caseload.

    I’m deeply concerned. My colleagues are deeply concerned. We have raised these issues consistently. All the way up the ladder.

    Cutting budgets. Cutting corners. We all know it. It’s only a matter of time until another child dies.

    Editor (Neil): Anyone want to be a Social Worker now?
    Its not only kids that are abused is it? I have been a Child Care Social Worker for 32 years until I retired (burnt out – now you can see why) and worked with children some of whom were on the ‘at risk’ register. I can tell you here and now that this Social Worker is being abused by her management with a caseload of 43 cases (20 is large and demanding!) – its the work load of TWO Social Workers and all of this is known to management and ED Balls the “New Labour” minister responsible – so just who is responsible for child abuse we should ask? And just why doesn’t the SUN and Daily Mail run a campaign to change the resources for Social Workers/Child Care Services so that Children do stay safe?

  96. alanmallk on said:

    thats a very disturbing picture. It also shows that Mark France completly sided with the right wing scum on htis issue. He argued so I read that social workers are over paid. Then I read he has an article in the Respect newspaper!! Is Respect really such a broad organisation that its leading members support a witchunt against social workers!!

  97. Question on said:

    One has to ask though, reading this, why an educated person wants to be a social worker when it clearly makes no difference whether they are one or not? Nobody is saved and no difference is made. In fact, the writers own children are suffering. The cynics earn good money and the empathetic die of stress. It displays all the worst, all the best and all the impotence of religious faith.

  98. mark anthony france on said:

    #109 …Neil Williams this is exactly the sort of material that needs to be incorporated into and is being incorporated [thanks to you] into the debate we are having…
    I’d Like to be a Social Worker…. It’s not straight forward though for people like me…
    I’d like to work in child protection.
    When I worked as a housing support worker Post Climbie… I encoutered other types of Social Worker and they didn’t have the legitimate reasons of ‘burnout’ to explain why they had lost all capacity for compassion.
    I encountered Social Workers who essentially ‘gossiped’ about ‘clients’ in a dismissive and cynical fashion… who attempted to engineer situations that would inevitablly lead to kids entering local authority care either because they had made ‘flawed’ assessments of risk or lacked the imagination to listen to possible alternative paths proposed by other agencies.
    I encountered Socail Workers completely ignorant of the deepening social housing crisis. I encountered Social Workers who had never even heard of Victoria Climbie let alone read the recommendations of the Lamming Inquiry.
    Admittedly this was 4 Years ago …. and now we are in a profound crisis a symptom of which is the continuning disfunction in Haringey.

    Today I had a meeting at my childs school. I had to gently and carefully, taking into account the ego’s of the three educational professionals in the room, introduce the concept that given the continuing problems with my son… perhaps it was time to apply the Common Assessment Framework…. finally, and thankfully, the penny dropped. Mainly because a newly appointed Pastoral Support Worker had just had local safeguarding board Common Assessment training…

    At last after nearly a decade of shit there is the possibility that my son may actual get some help… and so will I.

    We know the ideological Agenda of the Sun and the Mail will not resolve the problems faced by millions of ordinary ‘families’ and their kids. However, at the moment the left does not have anything concrete to say [by this I mean a focus for campaiging]

    Just as there was a Brilliant Banner on the Climate Change Demo that Said “Capitalism Isn’t Working” based on the 1979 Sattchi and Stattchi Tory Party Poster…. we should turn the phrase “Every Child Matters” into a banner to rally behind.

    Finally, Neil, a question. Why do you think the Victoria Climbie Foundation had a meeting with Stacey Crisp the organiser of the Justice for Baby P Demonstration on 13th December?

  99. alanmallk on said:

    Now its more attacks on social workers!!
    I don’t understand Mark where you and Respect get off on this?
    You seem to think you are the font of all wosdom and everybody else is crap. Its an attitude of course I for one wouldn’t want to see in a social worker.
    No one is saying as in any other job all the workers are briliant but why you seem to ignore the cuts, demoralisation, lack of resources and an atmosphere of bullying and harrasment is frankly unbelievable. You have sided with the right wing and in your own little way added to the witchunt. If Respect wants to call for local govt workers to be sacked then you have no right to be seen on the left of british politics. I showed a couple of your members who work in the care field your attacks and they are rightly disgusted that a leading member of Respect is lining up with Murdoch. I hope they resign from your pathetic organisation.

  100. mark anthony france on said:

    #110 alanmalik….In what way did I completely side with the SUN? I agreed with the truth that Sharon Shoesmith had failed and should take the responsibility.
    I said those responsible for this disaster should resign or be sacked…. that is still my position…
    I suggest you re=read my original article and follow the links that are highlighted in red to help aid you in your education.

    #111 …. a legitmate and insightful point….The entire system of child protection needs overhaul… and this is the process that is occuring now …. due to Baby P.
    The issue that is contentious who will benefit from this reorganisation and who will suffer… and which ideological forces in society will make the gains or claim the moral victory.
    There is no reason for socialists to be ‘defensive’…and their is no reason for the empathetic to feel impotent.

  101. alanmallk on said:

    I have read your stuff Mark and it stinks.
    You argue for all professionals to be sacked who were involved in the case.. this is a jump from involved to responsible!! you have just now given a list of social workers you have met and how dreadful they are. If tube workers were under attack how would people respond to a contribution saying they met tube workers who didn’t like going to work and hatred the puiblic etc etc. It would be seen as the writing of a scab.
    You seem to have a bee in your bonnet about social workers.Get over it!!

  102. Ger Francis on said:

    ‘I don’t understand Mark where you and Respect get off on this’.

    Mark is expressing his own opinion on this issue and is not speaking on behalf of Respect. That is his right. It is also mine to disagree with him. We have had no collective discussion on this nor is there one planned. If Mark or anybody else wants us to take a position they will have an opportunity at the next NC on Jan 17.

  103. alanmallk on said:

    I am glad Ger that this is the case. Its just that a leading member of Respect has
    1. Called for the sacking of social workers and others.
    2. Argued that there is a pro single women bias on social work training and its anti men.
    3. Wants a Respect presence on the sack the social workers march.

    no one disagreeing about right to ones opinion, its just that he is a leading respect member elected at your conference.

  104. mark anthony france on said:

    #115…alanmalik… Why does the stuff I write ‘stink’ please be more specific. I do not have a ‘bee in my bonet’ about social workers. I have a bee in my bonnet about the fact that 8 years after Victoria Climbie and after 5 years of the Every Childs Matter agenda [see http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/
    Things are still as bad as ever and getting worse.
    I have an issue with Socialists who are defensive and seek to shoot the messenger.
    I have an issue with New Labour and their various adherents across the Statutory Sector who come up with theories and policies and legislation which often has the perverse result of making the Welfare State more oppressive and alienating for the people who most need its assistance.
    The real people who suffer in this context are some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in our society.
    I agree with the position of the Royal College of Nurses.
    Which boiled down to its essence says workers should demand training, workers should demand the support of their unions and professional associations. Government should provide resources and the vulnerable protected.

    More than this I argue that the Agenda on these issues should not be framed by either New Labour or the SUN.
    It should be framed by socialists. It isn’t.

    #116 Ger Francis…you are absolutely right I posted the article on Baby P as an individual and not as a representative of RESPECT.

  105. alanmallk on said:

    what about the contributions
    they are all snorting coke and are overpaid
    You couldn’t get on the social work course because they are in favour of women and anti men.
    All professionals “Involved” in this case should be sacked

    Do you really want any more of your profound understanding recycled.
    You seem to be very bitter about this whole affair and of course in relation to your personnel situation have genuine grievences. But I am not arguing all is great in social care or child protection. Your problem is you begin with the front line social worker and make no real context for social services failing. It should also be stated that the UK is the 4th best country in the world for child deaths. Yes things can be better, yes we need to look at improvements but these are political issues and the govt is responsible. For you to attack those workers is a disgrace. To thne bang on about snorting coke as if they were some city yuppie types is below the belt. To call socail workers overpaid means you line up with the Tories.

  106. mark anthony france on said:

    #119 alanmalik…. at the end of one contribution during discussion on the thread of Kirklees Social Services… I did say I have seen Social Workers enjoying lines of cocaine at parties… because they could afford it.
    There is an issue around the recruitment and retention of male students on Social Worker courses and I have given brief examples of this. Just as there are issues about recruitment and retention of males and or people from BME backgrounds in Nursing, Teacher Training. That the workforce fails to be reflective of the community it serves demographically or culuturally is a valid issue to raise.
    I said that the key professionals involved in the Baby P case should resign and or be sacked….I wrote this on November 25th at a time where there was little if any discussion on the left of the implications of the Baby P case…Since that date a whole swathe of ‘actions’, reviews, investigations, removals from post, suspensions and disciplinary procedures have been announced.
    I am not bitter in any sense, I am annoyed that rather than the left addressing the issues and acting as a hegemonic leadership and advocating solutions to the ‘dire state of child protection’ some prefer to target their attention on me.

    In my original post I did not ‘begin with the front line social worker’… I began after an introductory quote… with a broad analysis of the record of Socialists in Championing basic issues of Justice… went on to talk about the achievement of the Labour Movement in establishing the welfare state… and then went on to talk of the profound and deep contradictions that are tearing the Welfare State apart.

    I made a series of 5 proposals 2 of the 5 proved controversial.

    I agree with you that ‘things can get better’… In 1997 we were told that by New Labour…. Some of the poorest, most disadvantaged in our society are running out of patience…. Wether they turn to the Tories and Reaction under the leadership of the SUN largely depends on wether the left can connect with the reality of their lives.

    To present my views as an attack on ‘workers’ or as lining up with the Tories is an assumption, not based on evidence, a judgement, a distortion. It hampers further investigation of the underlying problems an polarises uneccessarily debate. It is not unusual for people in all walks of live to make assumptons, and false judgements, to fail to investigate underlying problems…. It is not unusual for Socail Workers to behave in this fashion too…or Socialists. While this cultural phenonmenon remains dominant…things will not get better.

  107. mark anthony france on said:

    Just thought comrades might like to know that OFSTED has pledged to establish a ‘hotline’ where any staff involved in child protection who have concerns ovder bad practice can call up to whistleblow…. see the BBC report.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7775032.stm

    This is a great development if it is followed through and widely puplicised among all those who work with children and families.

  108. The issue is one of resources and not primarially bad practice.
    I hope social workers ring up and complain of low staffing levels, high caseloads which are unmanageable and whatever Mark thinks, crap money for the type of job. Indeed the slogan could be
    “If Galloway deserves £300,000 a year why not us!!”
    Mark doesn’t seem to get the fact that the problems facing child protection services are in the main structural and not about bad individuals.

  109. mark anthony france on said:

    122 ll…. “Mark doesn’t seem to get the fact that the problems facing child protection services are in the main structural and not about bad individuals.”

    I have always understood the ‘structural’ problems… and the dialectical link between the conditions people have to work under and the impact on there capacity to maintain empathy.

    I agree with you… that BASW and other professional associations and trade unions could encourage members to use the ‘hotline’ when is established to ‘whistleblow’ issueslike “low staffing levels, high caseloads which are unmanageable” etc …. this will put futher pressure for change.

    I have to correct you yet again… I have never said social workers are on ‘good money’…. and as far as I am concerned they are not on ‘crap money’ either…. all these things are relative…

    I live in a working class street with a mixture of social housing, private sector rented and home ‘ownership’… of the 50 or so homes [built as a part of a counci estate in the 1920’s] most people of working age are in paid employment…. only 2 people earn more than £28K per annum.. after a recent survey… I concluded the average pay works out at about £18,500.

    The people who earn over £28K do jobs involving travelling large distances and average 50-60 hours a week.

    Only a couple of people in the street are Union members, and most work in jobs with no pension, no sick pay and over 50% are on temporary contracts or Agency workers.

    During the survey… several people indicated that they though teachers, police, social workers, and nurses got good money, and good conditions at work…People expressed the view that GP’s and Local Government Managers were ‘overpaid’…. There was a certain level of ‘envy’ expressed but also a recognition that these pay and conditions were a reward for study and training…

    Several people on the street expressed contradictory experiences of the Welfare state…. most parents had big complaints to make about local schools, and significant problems with Primary Health Care Services… those handful of parents who had, had contact with social services reported negative impressions with some expressing anger…. Most reported positive experiences of both NHS Hospital Service and of dealing with the Police.

    All my neigbours responded well to my questioning and no complained about George Galloway.

    Finally comrade ll …. want do you think of Sharon Shoesmith loosing her £110,000 Salary, with no pay off and no Salary in leiu since her removal on Dec 1st?

    Indeed the slogan could be..

    “One down….. how many more to go?”

    ho! ho! ho!