Welcome To Zelo Street!

This is a blog of liberal stance and independent mind

Saturday 24 November 2012

Rotherham, UKIP, And What We Don’t Know

[Update at end of post]

I have no doubt that Tony Gallagher hates his paper being characterised as the Maily Telegraph. But the fact remains that his top story today – that two foster parents allegedly had three children withdrawn from their care because they were members of UKIP – would never have appeared in the Telegraph of old. This would have been Daily Mail or Daily Express material.

I shot my mouth off? Perish the thought!

But the Mail is today hung up on gay marriage (because the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre does not approve of such things), and the Express on another of Nathan Rao’s weather shock horror splashes (because it’s free), so the Tel it is. And the first thing that comes clear from looking at what information there is about the case, and the reaction to it, is that there is a lot here we don’t know.

Moreover, despite there being a lot that we don’t know, that has not stopped some of those who should know better – most prominently Michael “Oiky” Gove – from shooting their mouths off anyway. Gove denounced the move by Rotherham council as the “wrong decision, made in the wrong way and for the wrong reasons”, following which he said his Department would “ask the necessary questions”.

Why would they do that? Well, that would enable them to find out what happened, which is all very well, but their boss has already opened his North and South and condemned the decision, so if his Department still has to find out what happened, Gove cannot have known how the decision was reached, and for what reasons, and in what way, so he should have kept schtum until he knew more.

What we also don’t know is the full story: the council has talked about the “ethnic needs” of the children, but that just leaves us with the Telegraph story, which by its very timing must raise suspicion: there is a Parliamentary by-election in Rotherham next Thursday, which Labour would have expected to win comfortably. But as the majority party on that council, they now have a problem.

That is despite the action of council officers not being based on the political leanings of the council, and party officials and MPs all the way up to Mil The Younger have expressed concern about the affair. They too want to know what is going on. One person who doesn’t seem to need any further information, of course, is Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, who is milking this for every vote he can get.

And one has to bear in mind that, despite Farage’s protests that UKIP is not a racist party, you don’t have to look far to find cases like their election agent Maggie Chapman, whose language suggests the Farage message of inclusivity has not yet reached her. Moreover, “Oiky” Gove should remember that it was his party leader who called UKIP “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”.

Before everyone jumps to conclusions, let’s find out what’s really happening here.

[UPDATE 1 December 1010 hours: as has now been revealed by the deeply subversive Guardian, there is indeed more to this case than the Telegraph article was letting on. The children were from an Eastern European Roma family, there now being a Roma population of around 3,500 in the Rotherham area. Small wonder that UKIP and the BNP have done better than might be expected in the by-election: Roma are a favourite whipping-boy for the anti-immigration brigade.

There was also the concern that foster placements would leave the children unable to speak their mother tongue, and there were safety concerns not just for the children, but also the foster parents, in case the birth parents found out where they were living. Moreover, the reason for the children being taken into care in the first place - concerns over the birth father - appear to have been resolved.

Added to all of that is ongoing tension between the Roma community and Rotherham council, partly stoked by media reports in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, which has left a deep mistrust over the motives of the authorities. There is no doubt more to come on this case.

But there has been no expression of regret from Nigel "Thirsty" Farage, nor from "Oiky" Gove. Nor, I suspect, will there be, and nor will there be any regret from the papers who pounced on Rotherham council, demanding resignations and routinely smearing its staff. What was that about the press getting its house in order?]

No comments: