This blog has something of a history of backing unlikely political figures from other parties when they get something right, and today I'm adding another surprising name to that list. As I tweeted yesterday, I read Diane Abbotts analysis of the Sharon Shoesmith case yesterday and thought 'yes, that's right'. And then had a sit down.
It seems to me to be debating whether Ed Balls followed correct due process or not in sacking Ms. Shoesmith is the wrong argument to be fighting over. It seemed fairly obvious at the time that he wasn't playing it by the book and I was surprised when he won first time round in court. But surely the debate we should be having is why did he have to sack her at all - why didn't she resign?
This isn't a case of a single mistake leading to a horrifying conclusion. It was a tale of systematic errors and in cases like that, it is the management, whose job it is to make the system work efficiently and effectively, who have to hold their hands up. You earn the big money for two reasons - to make things work better, and to take responsibility if they don't. That's as true in the public sector as it is in business. And I think that principle should apply here.
I have also read that the sacking was a mistake as it will have put talented people off applying for similar roles in case the same happens to them. I think that's nonsense as well. I doubt if you'll ever struggle to find people to take on 130 grand a year jobs - but everyone has to be clear WHY you get paid that sort of money. It's because, if it all goes pear shaped, the buck stops with you.
And if people who don't want that sort of responsibility have been put off caring for our most vulnerable members of society, that's a good thing. I want people who will put their hand up to be in charge of services like that - and who will fight tooth and nail for the children in their care, by making sure the system works.