Monday, 30 May 2011

New Facebook Group - Stop Scapegoating Sharon Shoesmith

My good friend Haydn Brookes and I have just set up a Facebook group - Stop Scapegoating Sharon Shoesmith.  It is hardly the most popular cause, but we feel it is an important one nonetheless.  The tawdry way in which the media (including the BBC) have connived at creating a moral panic around the case of Baby Peter's tragic death and have whipped up hatred of Sharon Shoesmith, prompting our political class to dance to their tune, is a shameful and shocking indictment of mdern politics.

The Facebook group is here.

Our views can be read here:

This group is for people who feel that Sharon Shoesmith has been scapegoated, first by the media and then, in large part because of the media, by the political class.

Rather than analyse what it is about British society that spawns the kind of people who would so abuse children in their care, the British media would rather turn its fire on the social work profession, and in this case, Sharon Shoesmith, who was head of Haringey Social Services at the time of the death of baby Peter.
Rather than analyse whether or not Governments of all political pursuasion have adequately funded social services in the UK, the media would rather attack social workers.

Politicians are beholden to the tabloid press when it whips up campaigns of hate against individuals and both of our major parties are providing a case study in 'decison by tabloid'.

It is to be expected that tabloids would act like this. However, the BBC is shamefully dancing to their tune, despite being an allegedly unbiased and impartial, dispassionate observer.

Look at the BBC News Online coverage, with its headline from Ms Shoesmith's Today Programme interview which takes one phrase she uttered, that she "does not do blame", under intense, persistent questioning by a surprisingly tabloid John Humphrys, took it out of context and gave the impression that she is a cold, uncaring, irresponsible person who is seeking to evade all responsibility. See the coverage here.

Humphrys' interview on Saturday's Today Programme is here.

is a low point for both his career, for the Today Programme and for the BBC's editorial policy, for they clearly all had an agenda and it was to extract from Ms Shoesmith some kind of comment about blame. Either she said she was to blame - RESULT - or she said she wasn't to blame (she did though, accept responsibility) - again...RESULT! She sought to set out the context of a large number of child deaths in similar circumstances both before and after Baby Peter. But Humphrys resolutely sought to prevent her doing this.

It seems the BBC does not want to risk the wrath of the tabloids, or to be een by that fraternity of being 'pro-social workers'.

People who share the above sentiments should communicate with Ms Shoesmith and let her know that the entire country is not against her and has not villified her.

What kind of a message does the way she has been treated by both politicians and the media give to young graduates considering entering what must be one of the most challenging, under-rewarded and thankless professions in the country? When you are over-zealous you are 'stealing children from their parents.' When you give parents the benefit of the doubt, and something terrible happens, you become public enemy number one. And your paymasters, the Government, are all too keen to take their cues from Fleet Street.

I am not a social worker. I do not believe (although I cannot know) that Haringey Social Services was blameless in the case of Baby Peter, but the treatment of Ms Shoesmith has a very nasty whiff about it.

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