Scottish First Minister Derided for Her Claim of ‘First Mammy’

February 18, 2019 by Robert Franklin, Member, National Board of Directors, National Parents Organization

When you’re the First Minister of Scotland, as Nicola Sturgeon is, apparently you think you can peddle patent nonsense to the people you supposedly represent and they’ll buy it, no questions asked (Express, 2/17/19).  That’s what Sturgeon did not long ago, but it turned out that the Great Unwashed were more skeptical than she’d planned on.

Sturgeon pronounced herself the country’s “first mammy,” and told the children in foster care that “I love you all.”  Well, isn’t that special.  I’m sure her words warmed her heart, but others remained icy.  Why?

It seems that Scotland, under Sturgeon’s loving eye, has become second only to Finland in the whole of Europe and beyond in the number of children taken into care.  Scotland takes a whopping 145 kids per 10,000 into foster care.  I’ve complained for years that the U.S. takes too many, but our ratio is 59 per 10,000, or about 41% of Scotland’s rate. 

Those who, unlike Sturgeon, know a few facts about what kids go through in foster care are livid about that record.

Campaigner Jim Mackie, from Garmouth, Moray, who has submitted a petition to Holyrood calling for a review of the care system, said: “Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t got a clue.”…

Maggie Mellon, a veteran social worker and former chair of the Scottish Child Law Centre, said: “It’s good that Nicola Sturgeon feels responsibility for children in care but the evidence is children are increasingly being taken into care instead of parents being given the support they need. What she should be doing is trying to keep children out of care.

“It is easy to say ‘I love you all’ but in fact children in care are treated quite badly, they have worse education outcomes, are more likely to be unemployed, more likely to end up in prison, more likely to suffer mental health problems and more likely to have children who are themselves taken into care.

“The focus should be on supporting actual parents, who are increasingly having to turn to food-banks and can’t afford heating because of the introduction of Universal Credit.

“More and more local authorities can’t afford to provide that support so social workers can’t really offer anything apart from removal into care.

“It’s easy to say she is Scotland’s ‘chief mammy’ but have children in care got her address if they become homeless? No. If a teenage girl in care falls pregnant, will Nicola Sturgeon offer to raise the child like a mother or grandmother would?

“No. It would be good to know what it actually means for any young person on the street, desperate and miserable or being abused in care. How can they get in touch with their mammy?”


Mellon’s words of course will come as no surprise to anyone who follows the tribulations of child protective agencies anywhere.  It’s the same story from state to state and country to country.  More and more children are taken into care because the government that set itself up as the fallback parent refuses to provide the money to do what should be done.  In Mellon’s words, that would mean “the focus should be on supporting actual parents.”

What a concept.  That the state should, first and foremost, devote its resources to assisting parents who need it seems to be obvious.  But it’s almost entirely escaped legislatures that budget funds and the agencies that receive them.  They overwhelmingly think first of taking children out of their homes and traumatize them terribly in the process.  Then they place them with adults who are strangers to the children, who have only limited love to give them and are often mediocre parents themselves. 

Here in the U.S., children in foster care are much more likely to be abused or neglected, be the target of physical or sexual abuse, use controlled substances, run away from home, etc. than are other kids.  I doubt the situation in Scotland is much different.  So taking children from their parents should be a last resort only.  But it’s not.  All too often, it’s the first and only choice of caseworkers.

Adding Orwellian insult to injury, Scotland has decided to name the various state authorities that constitute its “care” system “corporate parents.”

There are 142 “corporate parents” in Scotland, including every council, every health board and every government department. The Scottish Government claims “the First Minister is recognised by care experienced children and young people as de facto ‘Chief Corporate Parent’.”

Yes, that term delivers quite the message of love and tenderness, doesn’t it?  “We’re the state and we’re here to care for you.”  What child’s heart wouldn’t be warmed?  Dickens couldn’t have imagined anything more damning.

About the only good piece of news in the linked-to article is this:

The First Minister was speaking at Who Cares? Scotland event in Glasgow on Friday to mark Care Day, which marks Holyrood passing the controversial Children and Young People (Scotland) Act. It introduced a named person for every child – although this part of the legislation was later thrown out by the UK Supreme Court…

Thank heaven the “named person” provision of the law was overturned.  I wrote about that back when the legislation was being considered.  Amazingly enough, the legislation provided for the appointment of a “named person” for every child in the country.  The named person was given the power to second-guess a wide range of decisions that parents normally make.  Here’s a portion of what I wrote back then:

If the named person (who ironically need not be identified) decides the child “has a wellbeing need,” the named person can cause an intervention into the child’s life and the family’s affairs. What’s a “wellbeing need?”

A child has a wellbeing need if the child’s wellbeing is being, or is at risk of being, adversely affected by any matter.

Could they have defined the term any more loosely? According to it, any named person can intervene in a child’s life and the parents’ decision-making at any time for any reason. Did the child fail to study for tomorrow’s test? He/she is clearly “at risk of being adversely affected by any matter,” so it’s time for the state to step in. Did he/she walk outside barefoot? Ditto.

Is it any surprise that the government that wrote and passed that law now finds itself taking record numbers of kids into “care?”  The government that did so clearly doesn’t trust parents and believes that strangers are better suited to decide about children’s lives and well-being than are parents.  So the Scottish care system takes more kids into care per capita than does any country in Europe save one.

Long ago, the camel got his nose under the edge of the tent.  If we’re not careful, the whole stinking beast will be in there, living our lives with us, eating our food, sleeping with us, etc.  Reform of child protective laws is of the utmost importance.

Meanwhile, it’s good to see that the Scottish people aren’t buying what Nicola Sturgeon’s trying to sell.

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