Monday, 1 December 2014


In this case, Surrey County Council
It could be any public body, anywhere

What when enough is enough?

There must come a time when the unspeakable horrors of bureaucratised ignorance, hypocricy, incompetence and obstructionism snap the restraints that bind even the most amenable citizen.

Where the victims are themselves wage-slaves of the system, its own paid help ('professionals' as they like to call themselves in the United Kingdom), then they can take one of the three classic routes through burn out –
  • walk away from the system altogether, abandon their careers and take up something else
  • stay in the job and suffer the physical and mental damage that this will bring, or
  • go over to the other side and join the system, subscribe to its values, and become part of the problem.
But what happens when the victim is an ordinary private citizen swept unwittingly into being a client of the public services – say a parent of a disabled child? After an initial honeymoon in which promises of professional competence and administrative proberty are just what need to be heard, realisation begins to dawn. Bringing up a disabled child may be problem enough for any family, with finding genuinely informed advice and genuinely worthwhile services additional burdens on top of this. Then one may find that much of the proclaimed expertise is hot air and the supposed services Mickey Mouse – and worse, that there is some sort of invisible conspiracy stretching from street-level bureaucrats up to government itself, to pretend that everything is going splendidly in the best of all possible worlds – where is there to go now?

There's no walking away, parenthood is no mere job, it is love's life-commitment. But except for a very few, there is no place in the system for parents. That leaves just one option from the three outlined above, a lifetime of continuing physical and mental damage of which my own country (not uniquely) should be so deeply ashamed.

A scream of pain

Read the most recent posting on Premmediations, the blog written by Mr Boo's Mum, far more telling than anything I could write:
I thank Susie Mallett for drawing this open letter to my attention. I do hope that Mr Boo's Mum will soon publish the local authority's response to what she writes.


What else can she do? HMG and a crowd of running dogs and lickspittles have spent years now, and an awful lot of taxpayers' money, stitching up a largely competence-free net to entangle parents' aspirations and divert energies and aspirations. It is only three months since the latest manifestation of 'special education needs' was enshrined in law. Unfortunately for government, however tricksy the fomulations and however convoluted and weighted the system, the underlying social and material reality endures and will continue to do so: some children have developmental disorders that require special arrangements to ensure satisfactory developmental outcomes both at home and in wider society.

Standing in the way is not fundamentally a lack of money (too easy to say, too glib an excuse), but a much more serious poverty, the poverty of ideas, theories, practical approaches, rational systems required to provide worthwhile concrete help for people on the ground, particularly in the children's homes and their schools. Whence will come the real practical knowledge and people capable of delivering it, and where and how it is needed? And along with the poverty, the poverty of spirit, the lack of moral fibre, the ethical malaise that allows state systems to conspire against their clients and even their own colleagues, in child abuse, social care, mental health, the justice system, special education (now pretty well killed off), wherever there are ranks to be closed.

Unless Mr Boo's Mum and hundreds, thousands like her speak out publicly as she has done, and say 'NO, this is just not good enough, in fact it is rubbish and not worth the fortune spent persecuting me' – and not just in Surrey– then the problem will long see me out, and maybe children as yet unborn.

Stupid is as stupid does

The hopelessness and then the inhumanity of bureaucracies is a complex matter and should not be attributed simply to some straightforward evil within those who comprise them. If you do want a simple human factor that might account for quite a lot of what they do, though, try exercising Hanlon's razor:
In explaining any human shortcoming, the first tool I reach for is Hanlon's Razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

I wonder how they will manage with Mr Boo's Mums cutting irony.


I notice that the blog Special Needs Jungle today posts an item called 'How goes the development of the Local Offer?' . Its author, Tania Tirraoro, ends her review:
I now have to end this post so I can *face palm* myself for the rest of the evening.

In case you do not understand this expression, she provides some useful pictures:

I know what she means. 


I used to work for the council once (not Surrey but a really duff one). I suffered physical and mental damage for a while, then I flipped right out and joined the opposition. 

That was comparatively easy.  I was just one of the paid help.

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