This situation where the authority of the CMA report is disputed cannot be allowed to continue. Its authority must be asserted.
It had a chance
There was respect, aspiration, anticipation. Of affirming, and removing, positions.
No one gave it a chance
No sooner was it published than previously held positions (of all persuasions) were repeated using parts of the report, unrelated or interpretations, or writing creatively to link extracts so that they are turned from their original point, fact, or observation, leaving the report as fragments of comment supporting a particular ‘territory’ of provision, philosophy, practice, perspective.
Its chance has gone
Fragmented it has no leverage. Currently there is nothing that cannot be disputed, by force of argument, facts moved aside.
Its chance will come again
It has 6 months to return. This is too long without an assertive authoritative statement being made. The CMA must answer its critics. Without a greater authority the arguments it will face will not be changed. It cannot remain in its castle whilst there is turmoil outside of its walls. There was a reason why proclamations were read from castle walls. It was a single act that dispelled rhetoric by clarity of the evidence.
This situation cannot continue – the authority of the CMA report must be asserted.
There is a concept in Residential Child Care of ‘being in authority’, that is you know the reason for what you are doing is greater than yourself alone.
It follows that you can be ‘out of authority’, though knowing the reason you decide to act alone, and there is ‘anti-authority’, knowingly or unknowingly acting against and apart from what has been agreed.
Importantly it is possible to be ‘in authority’ and still argue for a different plan or practice. This new thinking is safely considered within the emotional and psychological containmen offered by evidenced philosophy and practice. Such reconsideration can lead to adaptation to include the new thinking, or acceptance that the original was sound and should continue.
Lack of containment allows disputation as no one holds authority.
The CMA must assert its own authority.
By doing so it will provide necessary containment.
How can the CMA assert its authority?
- The CMA must assert its independence from the Care Review.
The referral to the CMA by the Care Review was seen by observers as an action to define identity and determine direction of the funding of children’s services. The referral by the Care Review was seeking a strong position by which to affirm action.
It hasn’t turned out that way.
As much as the report is unequivocal, it is also equivocal.
This is due to evidenced findings. What is described is not what was expected. The report describes what is happening. It is complex and complicated, historical, dynamic.
This is not to be facing all ways or being all things to all people. It provides a mirror reflecting back to us what is there.
Some responses have sought to break the mirror, the report not stating that things are as they have been portrayed and not being prepared to live with the situation or then report.
Other responses seek to merge into the mirror, acknowledging the imperfections of the moment and being prepared to carry on as now and support the report without equivocation.
The CMA report provides succour to no one.
It has not placed a full stop to the struggle for the power to define the ideological: the prevailing values and beliefs, and the organisational: the way aims and values are enshrined in structures roles.
- The CMA needs to issue a further short, focussed clarification
Within the next week
- It needs to acknowledge comments being made.
- It needs to be assert what it has found.
- It needs to assert where there is the need for more evidence.
- It needs to assert it is open to receiving evidence and/or analysis. It would be helpful to describe what the CMA see as the necessary threshold by which something can be seen as evidence or analysis.
- The CMA needs a small independent expert group by which to research and check. Importantly this group will have sector specific knowledge and provide explanations and insights. There are very few experts, and most are already independent working neither for providers or purchasers or in academia or lobbying think tanks.
- Following the responses by November 11th
- It needs to share its work plan – what is it that it will be studying further.
- An update in 3 months advising what it has found concluding some aspects by having found evidence and opening others.
These actions would contribute to dispelling chance by creating the conditions for the discussions to be undertaken through containment and in authority.