The Scottish Parliament’s fourth session has now come to a close with an election upcoming. Over the course of this Parliament, a wide plethora of legislation has been passed enhancing the rights and freedoms of people in Scotland. Watershed legislation such as the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act 2014 has been hailed as one of the greatest contributions in terms of civil rights in the Parliament’s young history.
Other legislation has, regardless of the fluffy rhetoric of the Scottish Government and the SNP started to infringe some of our most sacred rights. There are a great number of examples, including another round of land reform that now threatens the basic right to one’s property. The most sinister of them all, however, is the bland-sounding Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and its Section 4 – the introduction of named persons.
First, credit where credit is due. The general philosophy behind this legislation and the introduction of a named person for every child in Scotland is to ensure that no child would suffer abuse. No one will ever disagree that this is not an admirable aim and something we as a society should pursue.
The Scottish Government, however, has gone on legislative overdrive and conjured up a solution that presents a real threat to individual rights. These ‘guardians’, appointed by the state, are to ensure that parents raise their children in a ‘correct manner’. Every child will be appointed a guardian and, as the legislation currently stands, parents will not have the right to opt out. This means that come August the state will be intruding far beyond the sphere of where any state should go. George Orwell, anyone?
This scheme threatens one of the most basic rights of parents – how to raise a child. No family will raise their children the exact same way, but the Scottish Government seeks to alter this. Different families follow different philosophies, but what gives the Government any right to decide what is wrong, and maybe more worryingly, what is right? The debate on what is the best way to raise a child has been raging probably for as long as mankind has wandered this planet. We fear that the Scottish Government has been caught up in its own hubris and started to believe its own spin – a clear sign that they need a reality-check. Social services should, of course, be there to aid struggling families, but why waste time and money on perfectly functional families and infringe on our rights?
It is high time that the SNP government rethink this shameful scheme and listen to the scores of worried families across Scotland. Cases of child abuse are horrific, but there are other ways to address them, rather than infringe and limit the rights of the many in order to maybe protect a few. This is a new low for the Scottish Government and we must hope they come to their senses as a matter of urgency – for the sake of us all.