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The Swinney dilemma

In simple terms, Mr Swinney has a very difficult decision to make.

If he decides against an independent investigation:

  • He will look very foolish and unprofessional if legal action against the Care Inspectorate, Perth & Kinross Council and other parties is successful

  • He will look very foolish if the actions taken by the Care Inspectorate are shown to be unlawful

  • He will look very foolish if the actions taken by the Care Inspectorate are shown to be criminal

  • Many of those following the story will assume that there has been a cover-up and that he has been part of that

  • Many of those following the story will assume that Mr Swinney was himself complicit in the campaign to close a special school in his own constituency, and just 15 minutes from his office

If he agrees to an investigation, the likely outcomes will be that;

  • The Care Inspectorate will be shown to be ‘not-fit-for-purpose’

  • The education regulators will be shown to be ‘not-fit-for-purpose’

  • Perth & Kinross Council Education & Children’s Services Department will be shown to be ‘not-fit-for-purpose’

  • His own decision-making will be questioned given that he at no time sought evidence before imposing conditions on the school

  • His national standing and that of Scottish Government will be severely diminished

So, in such circumstances, the best strategies would appear to be:

  1. Delay, delay, delay

  2. Suppress all information that might lead to the truth becoming known

  3. Hope and pray that the drive for independence might over-shadow any corruption that emerges from the whole fiasco

Mr Swinney’s current message is that he and the regulators did not cause the closure of the school and that this was due to the Board of Governors.

Which will not stand up in any court.

So someone will have to go to court.

And that in itself is desperately sad. If the only way to discover the truth, have true evidence presented, and for justice to be served, is to resort to the legal system, then something is seriously wrong with our current regulatory framework.

If the guilty parties are those currently charged with upholding professional standards in education and care, then we have to ask what has gone so badly wrong over the last few years. For our own small group of dedicated professionals and parents to be driving the story and demanding evidence to counter false allegations and innuendo after all this time smacks of failure at a higher level.

But the TNS case could be a watershed and a pivotal moment in the development of the country - which is why the battle has to be fought.

Bill Colley