Instead, step forward Anthony Browne, Children’s Laureate, to defend his Labour chums and pooh-pooh the claims of his peers.
And in the process, show that he hasn’t really understood the reasons for their action:
Philip Pullman and three of my predecessors as Children’s Laureate, Anne Fine, Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake, say that as an act of protest they will stop visiting schools. These distinguished children’s authors and illustrators are infuriated with a government scheme that requires them to be vetted in case they are a danger to children.Well, I’ll bet they are all broken up about that, Anthony.
I have a certain sympathy with them — but I will not feel compelled to join them in their boycott.
Although it will be irritating to have to pay £64 for the privilege of being on the Independent Safeguarding Authority database, I do not see why writers should be treated differently from others who work with children — from music teachers to dinner ladies.The reason, apart from the assumption of guilt, is because the circumstances are different.
As Phillip Pullman explained on yesterday’s ‘Jeremy Vine’ show, he is NEVER left alone with children – he comes on, does his talk and leaves. At all times, he is accompanied by the teachers. This is the same for the other authors, unlike teachers and dinner ladies.
So why the sheep dip approach, and not a ‘risk based’ one?
School visits show children that writers and illustrators are no different from anyone else — we are just like them and they can become writers when they are older. There isn’t a hierarchy with writers and illustrators at the top and children at the bottom. So for writers to say that we’re not the same as other people — that we are special, and certain rules do not apply to us — goes against everything I strongly believe.Oh, where to start….
Firstly, children’s authors ARE different from everyone else, as clearly outlined, because their contact with children is different. That is the thing that Pullman and the others have made clear, and I have to question your reading ability if you can’t understand that.
Or your honesty, if you understand it all too well, but wish to give the impression to your readers that the protest isn’t about what it clearly is about…
Secondly, what a load of wishy-washy socialist hogwash! No-one must be different in Anthony Browne’s world – anyone can become a writer, it doesn’t need anything as random or unfair as talent.
Everyone is the same as everyone else…
I don’t believe that registering will make a difference to how children feel about us — nor will it create or reinforce, as some claim, a gulf between children and adult society. There is an argument to be had about whether children are overprotected but if all those who work in a position of trust with children have to be checked, I won’t feel “insulted or degraded” by being included.He positively relishes being ‘just another of the drones, nobody special’, it seems.
So, why did he accept the position of Children’s Laureate then…? Doesn’t that set him apart from all his peers?
Or is that somehow different, more acceptable?
It’s that creative impulse that will suffer if we let our irritation with a bureaucratic intrusion stop us from going into classrooms.Yes, indeed, Anthony. Trust Big Brother, never question…
Another ‘Government is Good’ convert is the ever-amusing Bea Campbell in Cif, who contributes many an opportunity for the readers to rip her ‘argument’ to shreds with gleeful delight.
For me, this is the stand-out quote:
But if it is worth letting someone check your body and examine the contents of your bag at an airport, then it is worth letting the computer check whether you've committed crimes against children before you are allowed to attract their attention in their schools.Yup. Children’s authors, terrorists – totally interchangeable….
Oh, and yes, it is (for anyone who hasn't come across her before), that Bea Campbell, of 'OMG! Satanist monsters under the bed! Protect the chiiilllldreeen!' infamy...