As the Rotherham child grooming scandal deepens, the telegenic local Labour MP Sarah Champion is proud to announce that she is taking action to raise awareness of child abuse in Parliament and the national press. You might think that this is praiseworthy – if rather late in the day – until you learn more about the precise nature of her awareness-raising campaign, launched last week.
Ms Champion is – wait for it – becoming the first MP to foster a teddy bear (by the name of Mr Mistoffelees) whose bandaged limbs represent the pain suffered by victims of child abuse. She explains: “The idea is for Mistoffolees to be handed around Westminster, with each politician having pictures taken with him and writing a message in his accompanying book to show their support against child abuse.”
Wow! I bet the thousands of damaged girls in her constituency feel a whole lot better for knowing that lots of MPs will be getting themselves pictured with a cuddly toy and mouthing platitudes.
For Ms Champion this kind of feelgood schmaltzy gesture politics is presumably more comfortable than challenging her own Labour council, who, according to Louise Casey’s damning report, have been turning a blind eye to abuse for the last twelve years.
If Ms Champion has publicly disowned the council, there’s no mention of this in the press or on her own website.
Curiously, she has, however, taken the opportunity to denounce David Cameron and the Coalition government for failing to act on child abuse.
She has also joined neighbouring Labour MPs to threaten UKIP with legal action for daring to mention the Rotherham scandal at their party conference in Doncaster. As far as Ms Champion is concerned, linking her local Labour council with child abuse is “defamatory” and “party-political point-scoring.”
So will she now be suing Louise Casey for defamation too, I wonder? Or perhaps she’ll be sending Mr Mistoffelees round with an angry note in his paw?