writer, podcaster, paddleboarder


Finland’s ‘Baby Box’ scheme has been running since the 1930s. It’s believed to be the reason that Finland has one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world, and is generally held up as an all round example of Scandi excellence. Yesterday, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivered Scotland’s first Baby Boxes.

The basic idea is that it’s a sort of starter kit for a baby, containing around 40 essential items, including a play mat, a changing mat, a digital thermometer, a fleece jacket, several babygrows, a hooded bath towel, a reusable nappy and liners, a baby book and an organic sponge. The box itself becomes a crib. Nicola Sturgeon said:

Scotland’s baby box is a strong signal of our determination that every child, regardless of their circumstances, should get the best start in life.

The other aspect is that it’s handed out in ante-natal clinics, which means that it may also encourage some mothers who might otherwise have slipped through the cracks to register for medical care.

All round pretty cool, right? A little help in life for parents who might be struggling, a wee welcome to our newest citizens. Not according to Twitter. Or, I should say, not according to Unionist Twitter.

Yesterday I watched, in utter astonishment, as my timeline blew up with people criticising the scheme – or to be honest, with people I follow subtweeting the critics and taking the piss out of them. Because, come on.

I don’t necessarily think that every last thing the SNP (the Scottish National Party, who are currently in government having won a landslide last May) do is flawless and perfect and brilliant. I don’t believe that a box with a few onesies will singlehandedly solve deprivation in Scotland in a click of the fingers. I certainly realise that cot death isn’t solely caused by a lack of organic cloth nappies.

But, come on.

It’s giving a GIFT to BABIES.

What is the matter with you if you can’t applaud that?

I find this trend towards ‘tribal politics’ where ‘everything MY party/politician/belief does I support regardless of what it is’ and ‘everything the other guy does is BAD and WRONG regardless of what it is’ deeply disturbing. I saw some meme or cartoon a while ago that summed it up, something to the effect of, if you want to suffocate a Republican, tell them Obama supports oxygen.

I think it’s natural to some extent (a sort of societal level ‘I can be mean to my siblings but if you do I’ll break your face’); I’m certainly guilty of it.

The party I most side with in England at the moment is the Liberal Democrats. Primarily for reasons of Brexit, and also because I’ve had it with Labour’s shenanigans and the Tories are evil, so… process of elimination. I really respect that Nick Clegg, despite the trouncing in 2015’s general election that had him resign as leader of the party, remains in public service and is passionately campaigning against Brexit. Compare that to David Cameron, who called a referendum nobody wanted, lost it, then flounced off to multi-million pound book deals and presumably putting his feet up as the country falls apart at the seams around him.

But I’ve caught myself twice trying to defend the Lib Dems for voting for the tuition raise a couple of years ago. They’re on ‘my side’, so I wrestle with this urge urge to twist everything they’ve ever done into something I agree with.

I need to stop that, and we all need to stop it. We need to hold even those we broadly agree with to account, and we need to admit when those we don’t like do something good. Despite a certain president elect claiming that “enemies” is a thing that grown ups have, the world isn’t so black and white. Black and white, good and bad, them and us: it all needs to go.

Am I chatting total nonsense? Tell me what you think!

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