Has Sturgeon opted out of the Named Person scheme her party championed?

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THIS weekend, Nicola Sturgeon was subject to an online interview from Brian Taylor, BBC Scotland’s political editor, following the SNP Spring Conference.

In it, Ms Sturgeon quite unambiguously and very clearly stated, regarding the burgeoning Named Person scheme, that it is not mandatory.

In fact, her exact words were, “One of the things about the Named Person, and I take responsibility for this because I don’t know that it is well understood, it’s not compulsory. It’s an entitlement, not an obligation. If a parent doesn’t want to have anything to do with the Named Person scheme they don’t have to. Its an entitlement that families would have if they do have issues or concerns. It’s not mandatory.”

When pressed by Mr Taylor, Ms Sturgeon reasserted that “It’s not compulsory”. How embarrassing and inconvenient it must now be for Ms Sturgeon, since Alistair Clark, a QC who represents the Scottish Government, has unequivocally confirmed that there is in fact, no “opt out” option for anyone, it is 100 per cent compulsory and makes absolutely no provision for parental consent.

In fact, what is implicit in the Named Person scheme is that it is at the expressed insistence of the Scottish Government, not parents, nor families and that the Scottish Government demands the primary obligation to “look after” Scottish children. One can only assume that the aides who advised Ms Sturgeon before she made these astonishingly inaccurate assertions have now been severely reprimanded for embarrassing and humiliating her so publicly regarding facts surrounding a policy which she herself champions.

Mark Ward

Dalmellington Road, Glasgow

Reading a report of the interview given by the First Minister to Brian Taylor of the BBC it appears that either Ms Sturgeon does not understand her own policy or she has deliberately misled us. What amazes me is the lack of interest shown in the media about a subject that has until now been frequently examined. If I was cynical I might think that spin doctors have been calling in favours. Already, of course, officials are saying that when Ms Sturgeon says that parents may “opt out”of the scheme she naturally does not mean that parents may “opt out”of the scheme. Right.

Ian Lewis

Mayfield Terrace, Edinburgh