Ed Balls – Gaffe or Honesty?

February 10, 2009

‘The economy is going to define our politics in Britain in the next year, the next five years, the next 10 and even the next 15 years. These are seismic events that are going to change the political landscape.

I think that this is a financial crisis more extreme and more serious than that of the 1930s and we all remember how the politics of that era were shaped by the economy.

We now are seeing the realities of globalisation, though at a speed, pace and ferocity which none of us have seen before. The reality is that this is becoming the most serious global recession for, I’m sure, over 100 years as it will turn out.’

Put Labour in power for 12 years and you end up with the worst recession in 100 years!


Unnecessary Reviews

December 7, 2008

The Telegraph is reporting that a task force will be formed to review all areas of social work including including leadership, training and recruitment following the cases of Baby P and Shannon Matthews.

This is typical of the way Labour handles any difficulties it faces in Government. The answer to any problem or concern is always to order a review which makes numerous recommendations, which is then followed by new and complex legislation leading to a complete overhaul of the existing system at huge financial costs and often demoralising employees. Ministers refuse to show any leadership and look to others to provide answers deflecting all questions by monotonously repeating the line that we should wait for the findings from the review.

After the Victoria Climbie case there was a major overhaul of children’s services with restructuring of existing departments in local authorities, new multi agency bodies being established and a whole raft of recommendations introduced by new legislation being hurriedly implemented. Some four years later more reviews have been commissioned which no doubt will make more recommendations and lead to more changes in working practices. Had this been done by a new Government, we could have given it the benefit of doubt but when it is being done by a Party that has been in power for 12 years, how can we have any confidence that it knows what it is doing?

What Ed Balls should have done is talked to social workers himself to determine what is actually happening in their profession. A typical response would have been similar to the response I received here from an experienced manager of social workers. He doesn’t need another review, he needs to ensure the recommendations in Lord Laming’s report are followed and make the welfare of vulnerable children a priority and not Government targets and financial considerations as has been alleged. It requires everyone from the Minister to social workers to constantly monitor that best practices are being followed and not give the impression that they are only responding after tragic events have occurred.

And where does the commissioning of reviews stop and how many reviews does Ed Balls want? We have one by Lord Laming into the death of Baby P, another into the contact social services had in the Shannon Matthews case, the one announced today as well as the interim report that he received last week in the Baby P case – far too many for effective governance of any service, let alone one dealing with vulnerable children. His actions are an abdication of ministerial responsibility and admissions that he simply doesn’t know what is happening in his own department.


What Delayed Independent Baby P Report?

December 1, 2008

The report into the death of Baby P has been published and can be read here. The report highlights serious failings in Haringey Council and makes so many recommendations that one is left to wonder whether anything was being done correctly, and marvel at the sheer incompetence of the way Children’s Services in Haringey have been operating. For an Authority under whose watch Victoria Climbie died, its behaviour has been shockingly complacent.

After he was handed the report Ed Balls has acted swiftly for which he should be commended. Two elected members have resigned and six council employees including Sharon Shoesmith have been pushed which was long overdue. But it is truly remarkable that the report Ed Balls commissioned now wasn’t commissioned immediately after the death of Baby P. As there were ongoing criminal investigations, that report obviously wouldn’t have been published but what prevented the then Secretary of State from commissioning a detailed and in depth review of Social Services in Haringey last year? For over a year the outrageously arrogant Sharon Shoesmith was left in post and we can only speculate as to how many children in Haringey were put at risk or their cases dealt with in the incompetent manner described in the report. What explanation can the Government offer for sitting on its hands and doing bugger all for 12 months? And what were Government appointed Inspectors doing once they learnt of Baby P’s death?

A few weeks ago Gordon Brown accused David Cameron of playing politics for demanding an independent investigation into the death of Baby P. As a result of this political pressure, an independent report was commissioned whose findings will now lead to vulnerable children being afforded better protection and incompetent staff being removed from their posts. I hope Brown now gives Cameron an apology and thanks him for playing politics!


Baby P Report

December 1, 2008

A report into the fiasco leading to Baby P’s death has been handed to Ed Balls who has pledged to publish at least some parts of the report. We should learn later today whether any action will be taken against individuals involved in the case or whether the Government will take over the running of Children’s Services at Haringey Council.


Baby P Inquiry

November 13, 2008

An independent inquiry into the death of Baby P has been commissioned by Children’s Minister, Ed Balls. It’s a quick and inevitable u-turn by Gordon Brown after accusing David Cameron of playing politics at PMQ’s yesterday for wanting the same thing.

I find it disturbing that Ed Balls isn’t able to provide all the relevant information already and seeks an inquiry now when he ought to have requested a report as soon as he became aware of the death of Baby P. He didn’t have to release the report until the trial had ended but what prevented him from gathering all the relevant information?