I mentioned about my pal’s stocking filler book about red tape which gives some insight into the way that unnecessary and futile government/corporate procedures can adversely affect peoples’ lives, sometimes in the most dramatic and serious way. Red tape in fact is very much like political correctness. Both stem from need to protect the citizen from the more undesirable traits of human modus operandi but very soon become the opposite. What starts out as a sensible measure to safeguard the citizen’s right to go about their daily business can end up as quite the opposite.
We are all familiar I think with the kind of golf/bowling club mentality where the rules of the clubhouse become so important that they almost overshadow the fact that people are there to enjoy some relaxation away from the stresses and strains of working life.
It can be quite amusing to observe the implementation of dress code rules, particularly over recent years where casual clothing has become the norm. There can be heated discussions at the door as protagonists discuss whether a pair of shoes are in fact leisure shoes or trainers. It’s even crept in to football. At one pre-match hospitality lunch I attended at Dumbarton last season (a defeat for the local side) the after match concern was as much about two guests who had not worn the required tie rather than the result.
My point is that the country (Scotland/UK) and indeed the continent has turned into a giant golf club. The courts seem besieged by absolutely trivial ‘human rights’ cases, yet at the same time our (UK) government can jointly invade a foreign country on a false premise, remove the government, bomb and kill over half a million people and spark an uncontrollable civil war without so much as a by-your-leave. So whilst the European Convention on ‘Human Rights’ concerns itself with some violent scumbag prisoner’s right to vote in an election, no one it seems is prepared to look at the bigger picture. If any Prime Minister were to have pulled such a stunt when I was growing up he would quite rightly been hounded from office. A prisoner lodging such a petition would have quite rightly been ridiculed.
I’ll be returning to the theme of red tape over the coming weeks and to begin with give you an insight in to my fairly recent personal experience. Because my daughter suffers from a medical condition which can see her take unwell unpredictably, we are understandably cautious to allow her on school trips etc. We decided the best way would be for us both to apply for Disclosure Scotland to allow either one of us to accompany her on such trips. Disclosure Scotland is a sensible measure which requires anyone working or volunteering in activities involving children to apply for a certificate. To get this you must complete a form declaring your details including much personal info including criminal convictions. No problems there and my wife and I got the certificates quickly and easily. However it turns out that if I now wated to volunteer in another activity for example helping with a football team or suchlike, I would have to get ANOTHER Disclosure Scotland Certificate and another for each separate activity! (why oh why! etc.)
On one school trip it had been arranged for the children to go on the Waverley paddle steamer for a two hour cruise.
Unfortunately on the day it was raining heavily and by the time we had accompanied the kids on the one and a half mile walk to the pier they were soaked through. The rain didn’t let up all day and when we returned, the poor kids (and me!) being faced with another 30 minute walk in the pouring rain didn’t fill me with enthusiasm. I suggested that we should take the walk only as far as the train station and catch the service bus which passes the school door. “But we don’t have permission for that” one of the other parents pointed out. I protested that surely each and every parent of these kids would, if they were there, vote for the sensible course of action I was suggesting in loco parentis. The other adults were resolute and firm however that the box hadn’t been ticked. I then suggested phoning the headmaster but it seemed that individual parental permission was required. Instead therefore returning to school relatively dry, the kids walked back in torrential rain and had their second soaking of the day. Many were absent from school over the next week with a cold.
This is a perfect example where there should be an overriding law of common sense. I propose that such an act of parliament be introduced forthwith, It will be called the “Away and Don’t Be Daft” Bill, where the rule of common sense is superior in law to all others. I’m going to suggest it to my MP today!