Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Policy by TV

The tired government's new announcement is the creation of various 'Supernannies' to improve parenting skills and somehow thereby reduce delinquency and other sorts of naughtiness. (The picture of sullen teenagers in hoodies being sent to a naughty step does not produce much confidence.)

I'm not so bothered about the policy, this time, but the manner of its presentation. First, our dear leader 'Tony' announces this by 'writing' exclusively in the Sun. Here is a flavour of his statesmanlike rhetoric:
Being a parent is hard and most of us have to just get on and do it. But there are some families who can’t cope with it. That’s a fact.
I love the ending: 'That's a fact.' Really, Tony? Glad you emphasised that for me or I'd have thought that you just say things that aren't 'facts'... And nice of you to imply that it's not my family that needs the naughty step. But there are 'some', no doubt. That's a fact.
What really annoys me is the patronising tone, the deliberate avoidance of any abstract principles, the restricted vocabulary and the most basic gesture at persuasion. It is the worst form of paternalism.
Add to that the choice of term. 'Supernanny' is not just the tabloids' spin; it's implied by in Tony's own words:

[T]he overwhelming majority of parents say they would welcome outside help in dealing with difficulties with their children.
This should be no surprise given the huge popularity of television programmes in which experts help parents with their problem kids.
So now TV -- in fact, Channel 4 -- is leading government policy. First Jamie Oliver drove policy on school meals. Now Jo Frost is driving policy on parenting. What next? Let's send Kim and Aggie to tackle hospital 'Superbugs'. (Isn't everything 'Super' now?) Or lets set up a new mechanism for tendering for public contracts in a Noel Edmonds' Deal or no deal? style. Don't laugh... It's not so unthinkable.

1 comment:

KAS said...

JIW - very neat, compact points - I am beginning to get a sense of what this blogging's about now...cyberspace meets grumpy old men, I love it.