Monday, December 15, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
You know, if there is one thing that makes a person a good person, it's them becoming a parent don't you think? Mythical qualities are bestowed to those who passed sperm into a woman or who pushed a baby out of their vagina. Parents always have their children's best interests at heart. Parents are bestowed super-human abilities to keep their children from harm. Parents would lie down their own life for their children. Parents; they are just so heroic aren't they?
After the last few weeks of news we've had about parents can we drop this bullshit now please?
You think that beautiful Baby P is the only baby to be killed by his parents? A terrifying demonstration of a one-off anomaly of nature?
"The statistics quoted by the NSPCC are that between one and two children die following cruelty every week in England and Wales and one child is killed at the hands of their parents every ten days."
And if parents aren't battering their children to death, they're having the kidnapped by a psycho for money, starving them until they die, throwing them off balconies, or gassing them.
Just to avoid any confusion, let me make it clear what I don't think. I don't think that every parent of every child is capable of maiming, starving, or murdering their off-spring. I know there are many parents who cherish their children and hold them dear to their hearts for their whole lives. I'm just saying that a lot of parents hurt their children. A lot more than we would like to admit.
The parents I am aware of through my work: No matter how bad the housing, no matter how deep the depression, no matter how violent the partner, nothing but nothing stops those babies coming. I know all about CAMHS these days.
And just in case we would like to console ourselves that child abuse is the grotty outcome wholly of poverty then I should just mention that I went to university with a whole load of wealthy middle-class kids and I have never met so many screw-ups in one place at one time. Two kids I knew of had nervous breakdowns, and a third was struck dumb for a few weeks. Do you know what left her unable to speak? During the holidays she had committed some minor transgression, I forget what now, but it was minor. As a punishment, her parents didn't speak to her for two whole days. Guess which days? Christmas Day and Boxing day. How sick would you have to be?
Worse. Take a look at these stats if you can stomach it.
But the rest of us are alright aren't we? Our parents were OK, weren't they? Not by my calculation. Google the words narcissistic mother or narcissistic father and see how many thousands and thousands of pages come up detailing the kind of under-hand, passive abuse which leaves a child with no self-esteem and robs them of their life's chances. You know people who suffered like this. You may well have suffered like this yourself.
I think we can safely say now that becoming a parent does not bestow automatic sainthood on people. If a person was cruel or self-absorbed or violent or narcissistic before they had a child, then they will be that way after they had a child, and the child will pay for it. In spades.
Around 60,000 children are in care at any one time in the UK, and that's only because the system can't hold more children. Blood relatives, great aren't they?
this post is dedicated to my mother.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
I've held off commenting on the Damian Green saga because from the snatches of information I have been able to glean from hurriedly read Guardian online articles and the comments that flowed from them, I felt I was missing something.
For a start off, I knew not much of this 'parliamentary privilege' of which everyone was speaking. Many 'commentators', including Tory MPs, seemed to imply or assume that the privilege meant that it was an outrage that an MP could be arrested. I didn't think this could be right. Surely, I thought, no one was above the law, not even someone elected to ponce around a big fancy Victorian building to say 'here! here!'. Not even one of them. So I looked up 'Parliamentary Privilege' on Wikipedia:
"Parliamentary privilege, also known as absolute privilege, is a legal mechanism employed within the legislative bodies of countries whose constitutions are based on the Westminster system.
In the United Kingdom, it allows members of the House of Lords and House of Commons to speak freely before those houses without fear of legal action on the grounds of slander. It also means while a member is within the grounds of the Palace of Westminster he/she cannot be arrested on civil matters; there is no immunity from arrest on criminal grounds."
Hmmm, so it seems that an MP has no immunity from arrest on criminal grounds, not even when he's in a big fancy Victorian building. Unless I'm missing something.
But then, it's not just his arrest, but the manner of his arrest that seems to have also outraged 'commentators' and Tory MPs. As I understand it, Damian Green's arrest involved him being arrested and taken down to the police station where he remained for a several hours whilst his office and home were searched by Police.
Again, I wondered what I was missing. Arresting someone and then holding them whilst their stuff is searched for evidence would seem pretty standard stuff to me. And going back to our 'parliamentary privilege', there seems nothing in that that that declares that when Police arrest an MP they must give 14 days notice and are prohibited from gathering any evidence. Unless I'm missing something.
Ah, but then, it's what he was arrested for that is at the core at all this outrage. An MP arrested for doing his job, by getting information out to the Public that the Government wanted to hide.
But again, what am I missing? Damian Green lies accused, as I understand it, of routinely obtaining and passing classified information from the Home Secretary's private office to his party, some of which found its way into the press or was used for party political purposes. There is also the suggestion that he was not just passed this information, but that he procured it by offering inducements. Certainly there is no denial that over a period of two years one person, Christopher Galley, former Conservative Candidate and failed interviewee for a job at Green's office, was responsible for passing him more than 20 documents, which points rather more to a cosy-little-arrangement rather than considered acts of duty.
Looking once again at the 'parliamentary privilege', I see no burden placed upon MPs to seek out and continuously release classified information. Having access to information is not the same as having a duty to make sure everyone else gets to know about it too. If it was, there would be no point in 'classifying' information at all. We might just as well demand that Government Departments put everything up on a website for us all to gawp at as we like.
Damian Green was arrested for “conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office” and “aiding and abetting, counselling or procuring misconduct in a public office”. This is serious shit. He wasn't just receiving information, the accusation is one of "abetting, counselling or procuring" it (over a period of two years, from a Home Office mole trusted around classified information). He is, of course, innocent until proven guilty, but I cannot see, given the suspicions surrounding Damian Green's actions, which are something well above and beyond the everyday scheming of our parliamentarians, that there is any argument to be made against the recent Police action. Unless I'm missing something.
I also seem to be missing the whole 'noble whistle-blowing' element to Damian Green's actions. What matter of great national importance did we all benefit from? What was made better because of what he let us know? Who benefited other than his own party and immigrant-haters? No matter whether there turns out to be any criminal element to Damian Green's leaks, we are all poorer for his actions.