Why this is important
To some outsiders, what happened to a small independent special school in November may appear relatively insignificant amidst the turmoil of what is happening at Westminster and as Holyrood gears up for another independence referendum.
But the implications of what is alleged to have occured at TNS are profound and stretch beyond ‘county lines’.
The body charged with protecting Scotland’s most vulnerable people is accused of conspiring with a local authority to destroy a 26 year-old school community to rid that council of the financial inconvenience of having a service on its doorstep that met pupil needs where they could not. Critics go further and suggest that the authority was driven by a desire to smear the school after they themselves had made critical decisions that led to the deaths of not one but two vulnerable young people.
There are further accusations that the whole charade was facilitated by cronyism and an all-too-cosy relationship between the Care Inspectorate and PKC, which if correct means that children in this authority can no longer be considered to be safe. Without credible oversight and proper regulation, any failings could be “swept under the carpet”. A regulator of services acting not only unlawfully but criminally. That has staggering implications in terms of the trust that the public and politicians can have in the systems that have been put in place by a government that aspires to independence.
If true, it also means that we have no regulator for care, because any organisation carrying that responsibility must, by definition, be free from political interference. A nation that places so little importance on its most vulnerable citizens has no right to call itself a nation.
Furthermore, there is convincing evidence that our once-proud education system has declined to such an extent that the regulator of schools and colleges is now a mere poodle of government and a pale imitation of what was a strong and respected HMIe. Education Scotland is no OFSTED. It is simply a local authority clone, obsessed with tokenism and self-preservation, and far from being the guardian of our children’s educational futures.
The TNS debacle has opened a window into what our current care and education systems are really like, and the view offered is infinitely depressing.
We want to say that this cannot be true. There is a universal disbelief that things can be so corrupt. But the evidence points us in that direction with nothing so far to counter-balance the argument that this whole tragedy was orchestrated from the highest levels of government.
Are we as a nation so tolerant of corruption that we just accept that this is how government works?
That is no foundation for nationhood.
Most of our followers want independence, but not at any cost. And not at the cost of our national integrity.