Opinion

Taking responsibility would be too mature for this government of playground bullies

I wonder if the people running the country are ever going to take responsibility for anything. For three years now they have blamed every horrendous policy on “the mess we were left with by the previous government”. Whether public sector pay freezes, the benefits cap, the dismantling of the NHS or the privatisation of the education system, it’s all someone else’s fault.

The latest example is the debacle over Sharon Shoesmith’s compensation payout. Shoesmith was the head of child services at Haringey Council when two-year-old “Baby P” died after being tortured by his parents. Shoesmith learned that she was being relieved of her job when Ed Balls – then Children’s Minister – made an announcement at a press conference.

It’s no way for anyone to learn that they no longer have a job. No matter whether you thought Shoesmith should have stayed in her role to put things right, or should never have been allowed to run a child services in the first place, only the hardest of heart could possibly agree that finding out you don’t have a job on TV is an acceptable way to treat people.

And the courts agreed. In 2011, Shoesmith was found to have been wrongfully dismissed and last week was awarded a six figure compensation payout.

The government put Charlotte Leslie MP up as its spokesperson on Newsnight. Repeatedly, Leslie criticised Shoesmith’s failure to take responsibility. When Jeremy Paxman pointed out that Ofsted had found Haringey’s children’s services to be “good”, Leslie claimed that Ofsted wasn’t up to the job.

Increasingly, the government spokespeople come across as pathetic, whinging children who don’t have anything positive to say. They’re casting around desperately for an opinion on anything that doesn’t sound like playground bitchiness and failing miserably.

Just look at what’s been happening with headlines about immigration. For years now, we have heard about what a threat immigration poses, how people come to our country to take advantage of the welfare system and free healthcare.

Except a study by University College London discovered that immigration into the UK results in a net gain for the UK economy. Immigrants to the UK have made a “substantial” contribution to public finances and are 45 per cent less likely to be on state benefits than UK natives. Oh well, I guess the government and their UKIP buddies will just have to find another group to bully and complain about.

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