It’s almost beyond parody, but the motto of Rotherham Council emblazoned on all its communications to the outside world that it is a metropolitan borough ‘where everyone matters’.
The grubby, right-on fingerprints of NewLabour’s approach to ‘public relations’ are all over the phrase.
Let’s put the abuse figure into context. According to the local Children’s Safeguarding Board 2012-3 annual report there are 62,000 children in the area. 49% of the total are girls, so that means almost one in 20 of local girls was subject to abuse. Actually the percentage is slightly higher because the figures also cover the 16-18 age bracket.
Alexis Jay – a prominent social worker in Scotland at the highest levels – minces no words in her totally shocking report. What was being wickedly perpetrated on these vulnerable girls should have been glaringly obvious to all the relevant public-purse agencies from police to social services. But individually and collectively, they did nothing.- other than frequently to pour scorn on those who tried to report their torment.
And the reason? Obviously in such complex cause and effect, there were many, but, to me, one paragraph leaps out beyond all others in the Jay report. It’s this:
‘By far the majority of perpetrators were described as ‘Asian’ by victims, yet throughout the entire period, councillors did not engage directly with the Pakistani-heritage community to discuss how best they could jointly address the issue. Some councillors seemed to think it was a one-off problem, which they hoped would go away. Several staff described their nervousness about identifying the ethnic origins of perpetrators for fear of being thought racist; others remembered clear direction from their managers not to do so.’
In other words – untold, incalculable human misery has been caused because the authorities that should have cared about human welfare and bringing to justice these Asian gangs thought it was far more important not be seen as racist.
As I write these words, I am incandescent with rage that this is happening in Britain. How can it be that those alleged public servants paid vast sums and provided with lavish pensions to protect the vulnerable could so blatantly prioritise issues of race above dealing with the unspeakable crimes detailed in the report?
Already the sound of wriggling off the multiple hooks in the report can be heard. True, the leader of Rotherham Council has resigned, and true Ms Jay says there have been recent improvements in children’s safeguarding.
But elsewhere, the signs are that former children’s minister Tim Loughton’s demand that everyone involved in this horrendous scandal should resign are being ignored. With total brass neck effrontery, the police commissioner involved has apologised it happened on his watch, but says he will carry on.
And on past form he will. It was Rotherham Council, let us not forget, which in 2012 became embroiled in another major scandal centred on racism, when its social services department decided that two perfectly loving and qualified adults could not continue to provide foster care for Eastern European children because they were members of UKIP.
The woman at the centre of that scandal was Joyce Thacker, Rotherham’s strategic director of children’s and young people’s services. Back then, she defended the decision. Her position was that anyone opposed to uncontrolled Eastern European immigration could not be a loving parent.
Two years on, she is still in post, and now there is irrefutable evidence from the Jay report that the decision was not taken in isolation – those responsible for children’s services and protection in Rotherham (they are listed on p38-9 of the Safeguarding Board’s annual report) – seemingly put fears about being branded racist ahead of the wellbeing of children.
Multiculturalism was the mantra of New Labour when it was elected in 1997, the year when this catalogue of abuse began. What’s massively clear from its pages – and the lesson we must all now digest – is that this creed of political correctness has introduced a vicious cancer into our public institutions and into the mindset of our public servants.
Yes, racism is a poison. But the pursuit of multiculturalism leads to consequences that are far, far worse.