Rotherham and the collateral damage of complacency
At the time of writing, the media are regaling us with the story of three foster siblings who were removed from their placement family by Rotherham Council because the fosterers belonged to the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP). This made the fosterers ipso facto “racists”, according to at least one social worker – and this single perception was allowed to outweigh all others in the childcare consideration. The fosterers are experienced and have always fulfilled their roles in an exemplary fashion, so the decision was clearly made on purely political grounds. This is literally a sinister development, and not just for UKIP members, or children in need of fostering. With its combination of anonymous denunciations, blatant bias, ideological sclerosis, mendacious management-speak, and petty nastiness disguised as compassion, the whole sad saga inevitably evokes Nineteen Eighty-Four.
The decision to remove the children (who have now been split up) was greeted with outrage by the rightwing media, as might have been expected, but even Ed Miliband has called for an enquiry – although it is possible that his evinced concern is merely part of his party’s strategy of recapturing the white working class vote. The children’s removal, even if it is reversed (unlikely) and even if there are apologies and resignations from the council (as there should be), encapsulates the corruptness of some on the Left, who have run large chunks of the country as a virtual one-party state for decades, and whose personnel and prejudices predominate in social services and many other parts of the body politic.
Rotherham is a prime example of a permanent Labour regime where erstwhile liberal and communitarian impulses have been overwhelmed by ideological cowardice, administrative complacency and accreted abuses. It should be remembered that the same council was recently told “to get a grip” on another racially charged scandal it has long covered up – the systematic “grooming” by some Asian males of local white girls. Rotherham is in many ways a latter-day rotten borough – the electorate may be larger than that of the 19th century rotten boroughs, but it is no less taken for granted. And the old rotten boroughs would at least occasionally throw up an MP of genius, whereas Rotherham has to date offered posterity only the outgoing Denis McShane, who long combined irrational pro-Europeanism and voluble “anti-racism” with quiet embezzlement. Sad Rotherham, with its relict medieval bridge chapel and surrounding industrial dereliction, has been abused as much by Labour ideologues as by the Thatcherite ideologues who condemned the town to hopelessness and welfare dependency.
There will be an election in Rotherham shortly, and obviously one cannot tell what will happen, but the likelihood is that UKIP (and indirectly maybe the battered BNP) will score highly as a consequence of this happily-timed story. UKIP’s exasperated views on Europe, immigration and political correctness are shared by a large proportion of the British electorate, including many who perversely vote for Labour, the party which has done all it could to give everyone more of all these things. Nevertheless, tribal habits die hard and Labour will almost certainly retain the seat.
Assuming it does, the chances are that normal ideological service will resume, after the sacrifice of one or two symbolic paper-shufflers, like Joyce Thacker, present head of children’s services. McShane’s chutzpah in blaming the BNP rather than his own behaviour for his fall from grace is characteristic of the arrogance of some on the Left. Likewise, Labour apparatchiks educated into a certain way of seeing the world will find it difficult or impossible to change their outlook, and will blame individuals’ failings rather than the system they staff or the philosophy they follow. Almost equally bad examples of incompetent klepto-complacency can be found in yet other places across the UK – other South Yorkshire locales like the notorious Doncaster, many places in West Yorkshire, Lancashire, the North East, inner-city London, inner city Glasgow – places where old industries, old traditions, old communities, old identities are being ripped up and remade, and career politicians prosper by abandoning old friends and riding each incoming wave.
Nevertheless, for the first time, political correctness is being seriously challenged in strongholds where it has long reigned supreme. It can be likened to the doctrine of some established church whose unforgiving orthodoxy is enforced by a battery of laws and all the weight of social opprobrium – yet which cannot resist the slow but steady onset of reality. Political correctness is doomed in the long term because it runs contrary to the facts. It has always been the most expensive of illusions, and it is one we can simply no longer afford. But for now it can still lash out in spite and cause collateral damage – in this case three unlucky infants who have already been through the mill and are now condemned to more. Derek Turner, 29th November 2012