The fallout from the revelations that there had been as many as 1,400 children sexually exploited in Rotherham in the recent past has brought a number of resignations, with Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Shaun Wright being the latest and most welcome addition to the list. But it has also brought unwelcome attention for the South Yorkshire town.
Much of this has been confined to the scribbling of the variously clueless punditerati, but there has been, with the inevitability of night following day, a visit from the brains trust of the far right, not, you understand, that they want to pick a fight with whoever they can find who cannot be categorised “White British”. The most prominent of these groups, has usual, has been the English Defence League (EDL).
ITV told that “South Yorkshire Police revealed today that the cost of policing protest rallies in the town is expected to rise above a million pounds. Seven people were arrested as 1,000 members of the EDL marched in response to the town's child abuse scandal”. So now we know that the EDL still has a thousand supporters who can figure out how to converge on Rotherham.
It was not a pleasant time to be nipping into town for a spot of shopping: “Police erected 10ft (3m) barricades around the town centre, while extra officers were drafted in from around the country. South Yorkshire police said officers had been ‘confronted with missiles and barriers’ but said no injuries had so far been reported” told the Guardian, confirming that Police had been attacked.
Elsewhere, the HuffPo informed readers that “Three men were held on suspicion of going equipped to commit crime shortly before hundreds of supporters of the EDL were expected to march through the South Yorkshire town ... Later, officers dealt with a small group of protesters who were ‘failing to comply with direction’”. But the larger problem was the lack of such reporting.
Most of the press ignored the EDL’s visit to Rotherham. And even those that did managed to miss the inconvenient fact that a door at one mosque had been kicked in, despite, as Tell Mama noted, “it seems that far right groups turned up and fought between themselves whilst marching through Rotherham”. Well, if they can’t fight anyone else, scrapping with each other is the only alternative.
This is what the pundits, most of whom are working out of comfortable offices in London, cannot get their heads around: rabble-rousing causes misery for those wanting to go about their business, fear for minority communities, and costs significant amounts in Police resources, which someone – like us – has to pay for. The last thing Rotherham residents need is the EDL rolling into town.
If the press is offering help, fine. If it’s just making mischief, it shouldn’t bother.