Sunday, February 17, 2008

SIlence Peasants! Your Betters Speak

I've said it before and doubtless I'll say it again, but the bizarre thing about the Cameroonatics is not just that they're consistently appalling, but that they're always appalling in new and innovative ways. Which brings me neatly onto Tim Loughton, Tory shadow cabinet member who's just spoken out in favour of social workers.

No, I'm not kidding, and yes, it can get worse:
Social workers are too often vilified for creating problems rather than given due credit for the work they do with the vulnerable, a senior Conservative politician said today.
Much as drunk drivers are often vilified for the crashes they cause, rather than praised for all the times when they make it home safely.

But that's not even the best of it:
Tim Loughton, the shadow children's minister, told the National Children's Services Commissioning Conference in London that social workers are caricatured as a result of general ignorance about what they actually do.
Please. The left has been pushing the line for forty years, the argument that liberalism may seem like a brutal, thuggish abomination, but that's only cause you people are too stoopid to appreciate its finer points.

In so far as seriously believing this argument would seem to undercut the case for any kind of accountability, it's a fundamentally anti-democratic and even fascistic one. It's depressing beyond belief to hear this stuff from a member of any party, even a Cameron-led one, with 'conservative' in its title.
Loughton, who also chairs the Conservatives' commission on social work, attacked what he described as the "deeply corrosive situation where too many social workers are seen as part of the problem rather than an integral part of the solution".
So the problem isn't politically-motivated fanatics destroying lives to make trivial political points, it's the corrosive effect of people accurately reporting on what they do. Ah yes!
He told the conference, which is supported by the Guardian, that recent research by the General Social Care Council found only 40% of the population see the contribution of social workers to society as "very important".
Yes, the vast majority of the public hate them, so clearly there's something wrong with the public. How's that for a perfect microcosm of 21st Century European democracy ?
"This is perhaps unsurprising when another survey found that more than half understood little or nothing about what social work involves," said Loughton.
Well, y'know, we might not know the ins and outs, but a thug's a thug.
"Misconceptions are too often fuelled by stereotyped social worker characters as they appear in the media, ranging from slightly alternative liberal busybodies to out-and-out child snatchers.
The media let Victoria Climbie die rather than be seen to be imposing British values ? Who knew ? Well, either that or - and I admit this would be really stupid - he's criticising the press for accurately reporting stuff that happens (I told you these people hated democracy).
"Invariably they are panned, either for turning up too late after some terrible fate has befallen a vulnerable child or for intervening too early as the agents of 'nanny state'.
So the answer to the charge that the average social work department is completely unfit for purpose is to point out that not only do they let the innocent die, they also destroy families on fatuous grounds.

Well, I'm reassured.

We're back with our drunk driver, explaining how he understeered on one corner and hit a parked car, then oversteered on the next and went through a hedge, so overall he was driving OK.
Even children's computer games portray the appearance of the social worker as a 'game over' moment."
As opposed to real life, where care homes are proverbial for turning out well-adjusted young citizens.
Mounting a robust and, for a Conservative politician, eye opening defence of social work, he said little was heard about how many families are living in difficult circumstances have been held together through the dedication and professionalism of social services.
Isn't that like the manager of the local McDonalds demanding we pay tribute to his ability to serve lots of cheeseburgers ? It's called 'doing the job you're paid for'.
"But then no one is interested in hearing about the plane that lands safely," he added. "Yet a good social worker is as crucial to the wellbeing of vulnerable children or to the survival of damaged families as a doctor is to the health of his patient or a teacher to the learning chances of his pupil."
It's we're looking for aviation metaphors for social work, I'm thinking they're more towards the September 11 end of the scale. Besides, doctors rarely let their patients die rather than impose patriarchal standards of 'health' on them.
He said that in other countries, particularly in northern Europe, social workers are respected on a par with teachers, doctors and other public service professionals.
It's worse than I thought:Polly Toynbee's writing the speeches now.

Well, yes, in 'northern Europe' - possibly Europe in general - there's more inbuilt respect for the state than in Britain. Some of us think of that as a bug not a feature. With all due respect to the land of Sven and Ulrika, blind deference to officialdom does have its downsides. See, this is the kind of thing that makes people conservative - real conservatives rather than the type of conservatives who believe in the intrinsic goodness of state power - also known as 'liberals'.
"This inevitably makes for a more confident profession whose practitioners particularly question the risk-averse nature of social work in the UK," he said.
So what we have now is the result of social workers dialling down the crazee ?

I think my brain just broke from dealing with that concept, plus again with the 'huh ?' Since when did self-confident officialdom become a good thing ?
"If social workers are seen as part of the problem rather than part of the solution, no wonder there is concern about their morale."
And there you have it. The Tories think the public should stop holding these fanatics to account, lest we damage their morale. This isn't mere 'producer capture', this is the political equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome.
Loughton also promised that a future incoming Cameron government would not launch wholesale changes to social services but would instead look closely at how existing structures can be made to work better.

"We are not going to chuck out a whole lot of stuff that has gone before," he said. "A lot of what has happened in the last ten years has been good - there has been greater work between agencies. But we're not getting a enough bang for our buck."
Yes, indeed: vote Tory for more of the same, except more efficiently. I'll take a wild shot in the dark, and say that we'll keep hearing the time honoured phrase 'lessons will be learned'.

If nothing else, all the above nicely skewers one defence of Cameronism. Tories keep assuring us that the Cameroonatics' ideological fire sale is purely tactical in nature, that the core of the party is still conservative....

Well, no, it isn't just 'triangulation' after all. Leaving aside the remote possibility of the Millie Tants and Dave Sparts themselves voting Tory, I don't see anyone out there who was just hovering on the edge of switching their vote, but was waiting for the Tories to endorse lawless thuggery by unaccountable politically-motivated fanatics.

This speech is the perfect barometer of the Tories' ideological surrender. Not just because of specific atrocities like the aforementioned contempt for both the public at large, and the principle of democratic accountability in particular, but what it reveals about the underlying world view of this (supposedly) conservative party.

Consider Loughton's complaint that social workers have a bad reputation. Well, yes they do: it's the natural result of years of bad behaviour. The belief that bad actions should lead to bad consequences is pretty much a core conservative belief. More than that, the idea that in a healthy society there should, even must, be social consequences for dysfunctional and disruptive behaviour is an if-not-forget-it of small government.

Equally, Loughton's rhetoric betrays a tin ear for what social workers themselves say, and have been saying for quite some time. Social workers aren't well-meaning altruists just trying to 'do the right thing'. Au contrair, the majority of them are culture warriors, motivated by is a Frankensteinian mix of femilunacy, pop psychology, pink humbug and Marxoid idiocies.

To return to one of Loughton's more idiotic points, this is why we can criticise social workers for seizing kids on fatuous grounds and for leaving other kids in the hands of psychopaths. On the one hand, we have the belief that the traditional family is, by definition, an abusive environment, on the other the corollary, the promotion of the dysfunctional and the deviant as superior to those evil traditional values.

The question is whether or not politically-motivated fanatics should be allowed to destroy lives to make trivial political points ? If this strikes you as a hard question, no, you're not a conservative (oh, and one other question: why don't we need social services departments that 'look like Britain' - instead of like a fringe meeting at a Lib Dem conference) ?

Und so weiter....

To the point, the average social worker is the reification of everything that's wrong with liberalism and a conservative party that pretends our only problem is that they aren't efficient enough doesn't deserve the name.

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