Saturday 18 July 2009

I Was Wrong…

I thought the person Labour would wheel out to crush the Rebellion of the Children’s Authors would be JK Rowling.

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.

I have a certain sympathy with them — but I will not feel compelled to join them in their boycott.
Well, I’ll bet they are all broken up about that, Anthony.
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...


woman on a raft said...

On the plus side, we might be able to stop some of these MPs and prime ministers who are always popping up in schools and using other peoples' children as photo-ops without permission.

The same hypocrites then run to the one quango or other - are you listening Cherie - when their own children are used in photos.

Never mind £64. I'd raise the price to £64,000 if just one single school is protected from Gordon. A pity about the authors but werrrth it.

No, they wouldn't be allowed to put it on expenses.

Oldrightie said...

So, why did he accept the position of Children’s Laureate then…?

Increase his opportunities to support a cause dear to his great friend, Fondlebum. No doubt about it. A crep of the most awful kind.

JuliaM said...

"...we might be able to stop some of these MPs and prime ministers who are always popping up in schools and using other peoples' children as photo-ops without permission."

Every cloud, and all that... ;)

"Increase his opportunities to support a cause dear to his great friend, Fondlebum."


Sue said...

This and the ID card system is labours admission of failing to protect the innocent.

They can't keep a track of paedophiles, so they are trying to keep a record of non paedophiles.

They can't keep track of criminals or terrorists, so they want the innocent to register their DNA and get ID Cards.

Why don't they just tag or chip paedophiles, criminals and terrorists (if they have to let them free) instead of making the rest of the population suffer?

There's something seriously wrong with this government.

Wait, innocent people are the soft option...

I am livid about this.

Sue said...

Pullman was right then..."Innocent means guilty of things not yet done"

JuliaM said...

"There's something seriously wrong with this government. "

With their decision to cut compensation payments to victims of crime who have committed minor traffic offences (today's 'Telegraph') I think they have finally strayed across the line into 'evil' territory...

David Gillies said...

The rot really started way back when Larkin was shunned for the job of Laureate (which begs the question of whether he'd have taken the job, of course). This race to the bottom landed us with the execrable Andrew "Bowel" Motion, who, if there were a soupçon of justice in the world, would have been fired on his first day in a Christmas cracker factory for just being a totally hopeless spastic.