Friday, November 24, 2006


Here's the "Respect" agenda, much referred to by the National Academy for Parenting Practitioners.

"Respect Action Plan builds on our current drive to tackle anti-social behaviour and reclaim communities for the law-abiding majority.

"It also explains why we need to deepen our approach by tackling the underlying causes of anti-social behaviour, intervening early where problems occur and broadening our efforts to address other areas of poor behaviour.

"In summary, the Respect Action Plan has six main strands:
- A new approach to the most challenging families
- Improving behaviour and attendance in schools
- Activities for children and young people
- Strengthening communities
- Effective enforcement and community justice
- Supporting families"

I'd like to know how much of this is going to be compulsory, and what they define as being "other areas of poor behaviour". This could mean anything.

"Parents have a critical role in helping their children develop good values and behaviour.
Conversely, poor parenting increases the risks of involvement in anti-social behaviour.
We will develop parenting services nationally and focus help on those parents who need it most." Do those parents get a choice about the 'help' they receive? Who decides who needs it most? What about the parents who don't want to be 'helped'?

"We will expand national parenting provision and establish a new National Parenting Academy for front line staff." I need a glossary. What does parenting provision mean? Providing parents? That's birds and bees stuff, isn't it? Or are we talking about providing substitute parents? Providing for parents? Providing what for them? This government uses language like David Blaine uses ropes, chains and TV cameras. Quickness of the hand deceives the eye.

"We will legislate to increase the circumstances, and organisations that can apply for a parenting order, where a child’s behaviour requires it." I see. Parenting Orders. No choice then. Penalty for breach of one meaning prison for parents and 'suitable' replacements found, one assumes, as with the current Truancy Laws.

Where are the laws that pinpoint the exact prospective breach(es) in 'good behaviour' which will trigger this criminal process?

"We will take a new approach to tackle the behaviour of ‘problem families’ by challenging them to accept support to change their behaviour, backed up by enforcement measures." It's not support. Support, in this context, means 'to give help or countenance to' or to 'assist by one's presence'. Unwanted help does NOT help, it only interferes.

"Tackling poor attendance and behaviour in schools is particularly important since truancy and exclusion have been proven to lead to anti-social behaviour.
We will extend targeted action against truancy and place a new duty on local authorities to identify children missing school and support them back into education." NOTHING here about the (still legal) deregistration and home education option, which would surely be mentioned by a responsible agency who truly wished to offer support.

"Specifically, we will develop Britain’s first national youth volunteering service.."
volunteer /, - v. 1 tr. to undertake or offer one's services voluntarily.
voluntarily -adj 1 done, acting, or able to act on one's own free will; not constrained or compulsory, intentional.

"Respect cannot be built by central government or local services." *Splutter choke* I'm sure they employ comedy script writers for these things.

"If people are too scared to go out, or the see that those in authority don't confront problems how can we expect them to have the confidence to do so, or to access the support that could help them change their lives." Where's the question mark? Give this author a Parenting Order, someone, s/he obviously missed some crucial schooling. There's a comma missing too. Tsk.

"The Respect programme aims to make local government, housing and policing more accountable to local people - empowering them to take control of their community." I want to know exactly how they will be accountable. And to which local community. Their client groups?

"We will continue our drive to ensure effective, swift and proportionate responses and sanctions by further extending the menu of powers available to local communities to deal rapidly and effectively with ‘low level’ anti-social behaviour. We will also broaden the range of people able to use existing powers.
We will strengthen the powers available for frontline agencies as well as streamlining the case management of Anti-social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) within the courts.
We plan to roll out a national ‘community payback’ scheme of visible and constructive punishment for offenders."

The UK contains 60,209,500 people, crammed at the rate of 629 into every square mile. The National Parks consist of one million square kilometres of land in the UK. The Crown Estate holds 110,000 hectares of land. The Duchy of Cornwall has 54,764 hectares. The Church of England owns 125,000 acres of UK land. I don't know how much is owned by other so-called public bodies or robber-baron individuals but I do know that the vast majority of us are crammed into the remaining space in towns and cities by the million. Crammed in like sardines, side-by-side, stacked in blocks, the extent of land available for our private use being confined to a postage-stamp garden, if we're very lucky.

60 million people on 244,820 square kilometres of land. How much is that each? However much it works out at, in my opinion this is the birthright of every UK citizen.

Outside my window I can see miles and miles of green countryside, empty of buildings. And clusters of towns, empty of green. Houses crammed together with no spaces in between. No room to park a car, no room to plant crops, no room to play football. No room to spread out and be creative with space. Or hide. Or explore. No space to do anything except stay in your room (if you have one) or congregate on the street. Of course there's 'bad behaviour' when people are crammed together like that. They're not being worn out in the factories or down the mines any more. They're being dictated to from the age of two to the age of eighteen all day every day, five days a week. Thirty to a classroom, crammed in. Our innate territorial instincts are being challenged beyond belief.

It's just an idea, but maybe if familes had more space to call their own - not shared, community, managed zones, but real land to call their own and time to spend on it, some of the problems might be solved. I might be wrong about this. It might make the situation worse. But it seems to me, looking out of our window, such an obvious possible solution to at least try, since everything else seems to have been tried and failed.

Threatening people with removal of their children and freedoms if they don't comply with rules surely won't work. Surely most people don't operate on that basis, by stick and carrot? What are we, donkeys?

Respect is a two-way, mutual process. If you don't give it, you don't get it. I don't see the government giving its people any respect whatsoever.


Blogger Tim said...

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out — because I was not a communist;...

12:24 am, November 25, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Exactly :'(

The language is so deliberately vague - like that of the worst kind of abusive parent.

You never know quite what constitutes 'good' and 'bad' behaviour because it's not spelled out exactly anywhere, so you're living in fear, looking over your shoulder the whole time.

And they're playing on our 'us & them' mentality. "Oh they can't mean US! We're not single parents, we don't live in social housing, we're not in poverty, on drugs, on booze. We haven't got a criminal record. Our children are educated."

But will you (not you personally, Tim ;-) The ubiquitous 'you' ^^ ) always know where your teenager is? Will he/she believed by the authorities if they deny having been involved in something? Will a fair trial take place?

Will non-registered HE be classed as truancy? Are you on less than the middle UK salary? This was about £35000 last time I looked.

The only thing that gives me hope is that they can't even publish a major, key public policy document without serious grammatical errors. The person who wrote this didn't know to insert a space after each full stop, or where to put commas or question marks. So in the 'front line', (to adopt their phrase,) we're not dealing with people with brains.

If they leave us any kind of court system with which to defend ourselves, we could, quite effectively.

And their database has just been found to be legally untenable, hasn't it? (For now.)

Shreds of hope.

8:12 am, November 25, 2006  
Blogger Tim said...

Gill, the median salary may be thirty five thousand, however, the overwhelming majority of people earn dramatically less than that.

This chart: Household Income
Top fifth 4 times better off than bottom fifth
gives a much clearer idea of what incomes are, and the mean household income (and again, note that this is household, not individual income) is only a touch over £20,000.

BTW, I think what is going on has may prove to more Brazil than 1984

1:06 pm, November 25, 2006  
Blogger Tim said...

Just reread my comment, and it doesn't make much sense, sorry about that.

Of course, if the median is £x, then 50% earn more, 50% earn less.

I think your figure of £35k is the mean not the median.

1:14 pm, November 25, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Yes they change the measuring rules to suit the purpose. So if they're trying for a catch-all (or half) they use the median salary figure. But when if they want to make the numbers in poverty look lower, they use the mean salary or even the mode. There's a post about it somewhere on here I think.

6:43 pm, November 25, 2006  
Anonymous Elderfaery said...

Oooh Gill, ya give me goosebumps! Crikey - wot on earth is that bollox about? I love your responses to it..very sane. The person who wrote that thing is obviously a nasty so and so and no two ways about it. Is a joke..cannot be taken seriously...we just have to become craftier to evade them that's all. We have similar stuff going on over here, but over here people just accept whatever it is the authorities propose and they accept it meekly.

And you are right about the language they used..very eerie..very's like they reckon they know something we don't. Sorry I am not being very articulate..but you get the gist I hope. :)

2:19 pm, November 26, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Seems like New Labour has reached the foaming-at-the-mouth stage of its term in office doesn't it, EF? :-(

We'll all just try to survive it until it's someone else's turn to mess things up *their* way LOL

8:01 pm, November 26, 2006  
Blogger Tech said...

I saw Bliar on telly the other night and the first thing that I thought was that he looked like a man having a nervous breakdown, just about to be fitted up with the straight jacket. Def at the mouth foaming stage, and it's what I'm clinging to at the moment, that people are just laughing at all this daft legislation they want to bring in, and so it will gain not an ounce (sorry, terribly imperialistic of me but I refuse to be made to think in metric ;-) ) of credibility.

12:52 pm, November 27, 2006  
Blogger Gill said...

Tech, here's hoping!

5:41 pm, November 27, 2006  

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