As I sat on the benches in the Commons yesterday for the result of the vote on Menzies Campbell’s amendment to set up a committee into the Damian Green affair as per the Speaker’s statement – i.e. to sit now and to be non-partisan – when my phone started ringing (silently or Mr Speaker would have my guts for garters!). We lost the vote by three votes – and the Government if it had had any sense would have agreed to the amendment – but no they got their partisan way, discrediting themselves as usual. So the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives will not sit on this rigged and delayed committee – ‘delayed’ because it would not do any real work until after police investigation and court proceedings are at an end.
Anyway – the reason for phone assault was the news breaking that Sharon Shoesmith had been dismissed without compensation. My reaction – huge relief really. For the first time in a long time what should have happened has happened. No pay off. No excellent references. That has been the way of ‘getting rid’ of people in both the public and private sector for too long and has created a rotten culture and rotten performance – at the very top.
Sharon Shoesmith failed in her duties and was accountable and has now suffered the appropriate consequence.
Someone said to me last night ‘she was unlucky’. No – she failed in her duty and that is why she has gone.
It’s just that we have got used as a society to accepting failure and rewarding it. But the Children’s Act of 2004 made it clear that the buck stopped with her position and the lead politician for Children’s Services.
However, if this is the long awaited fightback of doing what is right not what is expedient – then with a real stretch you might be able to say that she was ‘unlucky’ the pendulum started its swing back on her misdoings as opposed to all those who have got away with it before.
And the only other thing I think she was ‘unlucky’ with was that she was holding the parcel when, following Laming’s inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie, the Government joined Social Services and Education Services and she, already Director of Education, found herself in charge of children’s protection as well without any experience.
I suspect that is why Ed Ball’s report criticises her oversight of the deputy – who was more hands on. However, she chaired and controlled the Safeguarding Children’s Board – and was responsible ultimately for a litany of failures the like of which I hope we never see again. One missed appointment when a child is on the at risk register should be enough!