“I think this whole debate about nanny state is nonsense.
“Parents want help. It is in our interest as a society to help people bring up their children.
“We’re taught to drive a car. We’re taught all sorts of things at school. I think it makes perfect sense to help people with parenting.”
For once, David Cameron is right. This is not the nanny state at work. No, this is the modern, intrusive, hectoring and all powerful Mother State in action, desperate to direct the way parents bring up their children – irrespective of whether they need help at all.
The major concern here is that parents who reject the intrusion of the state into the raising of their children could end up listed as presenting a risk to their youngsters for not welcoming agencies in with open arms.
Whenever the organs of the state are held at bay by parents, its agents develop a suspicion of the parents’ motives. When one considers events that have taken place behind the closed doors of family courts and the case review meetings of social services departments – and the way in which the state can simply decide to remove children from families on the basis of guesswork or prejeudice – it can only be cause for concern that the tentacles are being given extended reach.
Children are the responsibility of their families. The state has no business routinely muscling in on the upbringing of those children. Where families are dysfunctional and their children are genuinely neglected or at risk, then there are already measures in place to provide support to them – although time and again we see stories of abuse and neglect of youngsters who are ‘in care’ yet are allowed to fall into a nightmare of drug addiction, sexual exploitation and criminality.
The parents who are unable to cope are nearly always known to the various departments and agencies due to their existing problems. Surely those people can be offered guidance in how to feed, bathe and care for their offspring as part of their existing contact with the agencies, without a nationwide programme being introduced at huge cost that effectively positions the government as surrogate parents.
Far from working towards a smaller state and affording people greater privacy and personal freedom, this latest government wheeze flies in the face of all three pledges. It is the real face of the control freak autocrat who occupies Number 10.