Why Polly Toynbee is wrong

Tonight will see the Haringey Liberal Democrat Council Group’s motion of no confidence in Haringey’s political leadership debated – well that is if the Labour Members don’t talk it out by spending so long on other things it is not reached. That is their usual tactic in Haringey – although they should be utterly ashamed if they try that one. Their other tactic (and I remember only too well as Leader of the Opposition on Haringey for five years) was to put an amendment negating everything in the Lib Dem motion and saying how wonderful they are. They wouldn’t dare this time – I hope.

Leaving the politics aside for the moment, over the weekend it because clear that Ed Balls has decided to allow five MPs (including myself) to have sight of the Serious Case Review in full version. I have been calling for it to be published (redacted – i.e. with personal or sensitive information blocked out) and I think the Information Commissioner has said that is possible. But am not sure and will check. If I do see it it will be on Privy Council basis – i.e. that I can never reveal what it says – which may be difficult. It won’t be difficult if the urgent investigation has looked at it and investigated the key issues and Ed Balls takes swift and stringent action upon receiving it. Any less – and I will continue fighting at full blast.

I have had so many helpful contributions from those in the profession, people who have had personal experience of Haringey from the staff side. I hope the inspectors are going to talk to those who have recently left Haringey Social Services – as I am told that they often leave because of the way things are run.

I note the Polly Toynbee brigade’s feeble attempt to protect Labour Haringey by rattling sabres about not slagging them off otherwise social workers won’t come. But Polly – they won’t come because bad management has left them clearly vulnerable and children unsafe – not because that is now out in the wide world. What Haringey needs is a Social Services department that can start again – enabling social workers to do their very best – not just jump to fill in forms for fear.

For goodness sake – at one of my surgeries, staff were literally afraid to speak to me. I know staff have all been warned by email not to talk about Baby P – well that may be a very successful, information hiding corporate approach – but it hardly fills me with confidence about a change in culture and openness at Haringey. That’s what needs changing – and change won’t come from hiding away the problems.

0 thoughts on “Why Polly Toynbee is wrong

  1. In slight defence of Polly do you not feel that the main thing she was attacking, The Sun’s ‘Blood on their hands’ campaign, was ever so slightly out of hand??

  2. I shouldn’t bother argueing with Polly Toynebee, she never knows what she is talking about – and bases all her arguements on the opposite of what she reads in the Mail and the Sun.As for this question of staff levels and retention, I am not sure on what it is based – prejugdice no doubt – Because a quick search of the web:http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/oxcare_providers/la_download/(id)/258/(as)/APA/apa_2005_309.pdfreveals that an Ofsted report from 2005 stated that only 2.8% of posts remained unfilled in Sept 2004, compared to 17.6% nationally, and 12.8% of staff left in the previous year, compared to 15.8% nationally.Oh and I also happened to find this – which may or may not relate to the channel 4 piece:http://www.cafcass.gov.uk/about_cafcass/our_performance.aspxWhich shows that cafcass dealt with @700 fewer cases in year 2006/07 compared with the previous fiscal year.It also happens that that year 2006/07 saw the implementation of a new funding formula from the newly created dcsf.And in Haringey coincided with proposals for implementing an equal pay policy – which in turn may or may not have a bearing on Phil Woolas, then local government minsiter, ordering councils not to make undue rises and annoucing extra funding for the year 2007/08.I mention this because it is perfectly possible that Haringey was simply reactioning with caution to the new formula changes – and the cafcass figures would hint this was happening nationwide – and equally it be that the implementation of equal pay meant that there had to be cost savings elsewhere, and the dropping in court referals was one way of doing this.There is a further clue to the current stories of councils ‘rushing’ to the courts for child preotection orders, which would actually appear to be a return to the levels prior to 2006/07 and the implementation of the new formula. And perhaps as the dcsf and the councils have had chance to assess the levels of funding needed to porvide the service at the pre 2006 levels.

  3. Darrell G – slight defence totally allowable. Yes – the OTT campaigns aren’t helpful – but quite frankly without the understandable public outrage – we would never even have got the ‘urgent investigation’ out of Ed Balls.