It seems some time ago that the Scottish Named Person scheme was announced and, not living in Scotland myself, I assumed the scheme had been quietly dropped at some point. It seems however that this plan, to ensure every child in Scotland has a named professional (teacher, health care worker, social worker etc) with responsibilities for their welfare, has been merely delayed due to legal challenges.
The Supreme Court ruled this week that the scheme needs amending as it breaches rights to privacy and family life under European Human Rights laws. This is a welcome judgement. The proposed law is an astonishing overreach of state power, giving the state snooping rights, including the inevitable leaky obsessive bureaucratic data collection that goes along with that, over every child in Scotland.
In my GP work I am involved in Child Safeguarding and I am confident in the efficacy of external intervention in some cases of neglect and abuse. However, I am constantly aware of the risk of normalising state intervention and of mission creep and feel that maintaining a constant state of uneasiness and self-reflection is necessary to prevent this. Intervention in the lives of others should be an exception with strong qualifying conditions rather than the norm.
Sadly this intervention (‘think of the children’) reflects the broader conceit of statists everywhere I look, including sectors such as healthcare organisation, teaching and concepts such as democracy itself – that is the idea that an educated elite knows best and that individuals are not to be trusted. This institutional mistrust applies to parents, the poor and even professionals themselves in the way they are regulated.
Freedom supporters therefore need to promote and support the concept of the individual as the default person to make decisions about themselves in opposition to the notion that the default is state intervention and mistrust of free thought and agency.