Friday, June 30, 2006

Toynbee - What The Feck Are You Thinking?

Polly’s Back today with a brand new load of bollocks about childcare and how voting Tory will probably mean that your children will all die of typhoid. Today she's bigging up the government waste of space that has been the SureStart programme. Clearly she's taken up residence in Narnia with Blair and Blears.

Dark forces were unleashed by the disastrous first evaluation of Sure Start, Labour's flagship programme for saving children from early damage. The research has just been republished in the British Medical Journal, creating another round of bad-news stories from the same recycled material.

An interesting opening into this article. Polly’s covering childcare. Now note the use of the phrase “another round of bad-news stories from the same recycled material”.. well Ms T, can I refer you to the remarks you made in April on the very same subject. Nice to see you’re off to such a flying start.

Sure Start children's centres have watched with alarm over recent weeks as Tony Blair tosses out apparently casual asides suggesting it isn't working. He said: "When we started Sure Start there was an idea it would lift all boats on a rising tide. It has not worked out like that." He did it yet again at a conference last week, to the despair of many present from the voluntary sector. Why this persistent denigration of what should be his own best legacy?

Best legacy? Have a look above Polly, you’ve said “Dark forces were unleashed by the disastrous first evaluation of Sure Start”. The evaluation was disasterous because SureStart is a huge money wasting fuck up that doesn’t work. It just doesn’t work! Get it into your head.

At prime minister's questions this week, Margaret Moran stepped in to urge him "to join me in congratulating staff" at the 11th Sure Start to open in her Luton constituency. It obliged him to sing its praises for once.

Well you see that’s not strictly true is it Pol? You see according to Hansard:

The Prime Minister: I can assure my hon. Friend that it is our intention to keep up the investment in children’s centres. Sure Start, too, is an immensely important programme that has not only allowed hundreds of thousands of people to get access to facilities that help their children but also benefited many parents enormously. In addition, we are trying to support people through the work-life balance, the children’s tax credit, and increases in maternity leave and maternity pay. All that adds up to a package that results not in simply talking about helping families but in supporting them in realistic and practical ways throughout the country.”

I don’t see the staff of SureStart being congratulated there, I see the same old Blair bollocks of talking about investment and how we were all flat cap wearing slaves who could only afford to eat their own feet under the Tories. We had childcare before SureStart, it was called nursery. The biggest differences are that SureStart costs more and teaches children nothing.

“But it will take more than that to undo the damage as copycat ministers now parrot the same ignorantly blase view. How quickly they tire of the last quick bright thing.”

Especially when it’s not working eh Pol?

Seeing is believing. Those who know local projects come away bowled over by them.

And no doubt reeling from £3m of their tax money having been pissed up the wall.

Interestingly, the one positive result from Sure Start's flawed research found that children were receiving "warmer parenting" with less smacking and criticism, more talking and affection. That may not create a super vocabulary or IQ score, but it can protect them from the worst.

Of course this could be a by product of painting every parent who smacks a child as a sickening child abuser. Protect them from the worst what exactly? Does SureStart take in child abusers and re-educate them? I don’t think it does somehow. Are parents coming out of the SureStart programme thinking “well I was going to teach my children to take heroin but now I can see the error of my ways”. Jesus woman, has it crossed your mind that children are being smacked less because parents are electing other forms of discipline?

The rates of youth crime, teenage pregnancy and yobbishness have all gone up since Blair and his SureStart scheme have been here. Were this not the case there would be no need for mountains of ABSOs and a Respect agenda. Wake up woman!

Politicians' need for instant gratification puts long-term programmes in constant peril. Labour started many excellent pilots, schemes and trials in the past nine years only for their good results to get lost as ministers move on in Blair's reckless game of ministerial musical chairs.

Name one… please name one.

Not only Sure Start but the whole Every Child Matters programme is being questioned at the highest levels inside Downing Street and the Cabinet Office. ECM makes schools the focal point for giving children wrap-around help from breakfast clubs to after-school clubs, plus sports, music and homework help.

Should schools really be the focal point for all this? Especially when we have such a problem getting the parents to send their kids to school anyway. Schools should be the focal point for education and that’s it. Teachers do a laudable job as pseudo-therapists and social workers (my own did) but their main focus, talent and ability is in teaching. The more of this additional lifestyle balance bollocks we pile onto the teachers the less they can educate the children, this is being reflected not in exam results as they are just made easier, but in the high adult illiteracy rates.

David Cameron, no doubt on the lookout for potential cuts, said last week he had visited Wythenshawe where one woman told him Sure Start "is a complete and utter waste of 3m quid". (Will all his policies be based on convenient anecdotage?)

Here we go… it’s all going to be doom and gloom under the Tories isn’t it? Always looking to swipe the food from orphan children isn’t he? Convenient anecdotage you say… Well god forbid we have a politician who bases his policies on what the public have said to him eh Pol? Where would we be?

His diatribe called Sure Start "a microcosm of government failure", promising more use of private nurseries instead.

Right…. Let’s assume for the moment that the country goes down the road that myself and my erstwhile colleagues suggest and that the state can pay for some services but doesn’t have to provide them. How then would a private nursery be worse than a state one? Is there a policy of floggings, beatings and being sent down the mines in private nurseries that I’m jut unaware of? If private nurseries are so bad then the state would have cleaned up the competition, after all they probably charge less. But no, people are prepared to pay more for a better service, raising the tax to improve the state has just led to the state being the same and more expensive so people go with the results.

Remember, before Labour there was no childcare, no nursery education and no Sure Start to help young families. So why has Labour failed to make this the great emblem for all that it stands for?

What? Read that again…

Remember, before Labour there was no childcare, no nursery education and no Sure Start to help young families.

She’s lost the plot hasn’t she? What the feck is she thinking? Are we really expected to believe this? We’ve had nanny services, childcare and children’s education since the Norman Conquest.
At best the Parliamentary Labour Party has been here since 1906. Before that we were turning out polite children who could read, didn’t smash up society and went onto become doctors, lawyers, builders, military commanders, journalists and MPs.

No SureStart? No problem!

Guttersnipe distinctly remembers attending play school and nursery (where he could already read) followed by primary school. My evenings were taken up with youth clubs and martial arts classes, the scout movement and the St. John’s Ambulance Brigade. All of this in the Tory years… where were you Polly?

1 comment:

Prodicus said...

I have you filed as 'Pollyfisker'. Great job.