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Friday, August 06, 2010

ContactPoint: goodbye and good riddance

For me it was what they call a defining moment: the Blair government's response to the nightmarish death of little Victoria Climbie.

The state had all the power it needed to save this beautiful child's life, and access to all the knowledge it needed to identify her as being at risk. It failed her through the blinkered incompetence of its servants.

How, then, did the New Labour state react when confronted with its inability to make proper use of the power it had? Simple: by awarding itself more power. If it could not protect a child where there were multiple indicators of risk, the "lesson to be learned" was that it must invent a new Stasi to monitor and collect data on the millions of children whose parents, far from torturing them to death, were doing a far better job with them than the state could dream of doing. And all this data was to be centrally held, with security as good as the competence and integrity of the people using it - people like, well, like the ones who let Victoria Climbie die under their noses.

Thus was ContactPoint born. And now, after an outlay of £235m and, at length, a change of government, the whole thing's being switched off.

Which seems as good a note as any for me to come out on. If the admirable James MacMillan can do it, why should I skulk in the closet? Like MacMillan, on 16 May I voted Tory.

And on the day the plug was pulled on ContactPoint, non, je ne regrette rien. The state has been too long in the hands of those who believe it is the cure for every ill and can never have too much power.

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