Where’s the real debate?

Social policy is generating a louder debate between the main
parties than most subjects as general election campaigning gets
under way. Yet it is also the area of policy where there is least
difference between the parties. This is not a paradox because much
of the social policy debate is no more than a race to deliver the
same populist messages with most vehemence, beating the other side
in airtime and column inches.

Social care professionals will be dreading the inevitable crescendo
as the general election draws nearer, wearily resigned to the
inevitability of their experience being ignored once again by both
politicians and media.

The prospect of a noisy “get tough” contest with the media braying
from the corners is not merely distasteful. As our survey of youth
justice workers published today shows, it affects the lives of
young people and their families, and makes it harder to work
constructively with individuals for real change. It may also
exacerbate the disillusionment of voters who believe politicians
are more concerned with scoring points than dealing with the real
causes behind the problems they experience.

Community Care’s campaign Election 2005: Putting Social Care in the
Picture, launched this week, aims to ensure that politicians and
journalists can’t ignore the real issues – the daily experience of
social care professionals behind the headlines and

The campaign will focus on four themes over the next four weeks:
youth crime, care for older people, inclusive education, and the
public sector workforce. They have one thing in common: an
overblown populist debate which ignores the ways in which real
change could be achieved. For each theme we have commissioned an
original, expert report and will be holding a parliamentary
briefing at Westminster. We have surveyed both social care
professionals and the general public to identify their key concerns
on each theme.

You can support the campaign by ensuring that social care
experience and values are part of the debate in your local media.
It’s not as hard as it sounds – visit
www.communitycare.co.uk/election and download our free local
lobbying guide. It’s time to put social care in the picture.

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