With another by-election campaign under way following the sad death of Jim Dobbin, I’m spending the day in Rochdale with the Ukip candidate John Bickley. And I’m struck that while normally these campaigns are fought on issues such as local hospitals, housing developments, or the previous incumbent having done something daft, this one is different.
In Rochdale everyone is talking about child grooming and what went wrong in the local child safe-guarding services. This is the heart of an area where decades of abuse against minors was uncovered.
It was in Rochdale, close to this constituency (Heywood and Middleton), that a group of men who preyed on underage teenage girls were in 2012 convicted of sex trafficking. In total, 47 girls were identified as victims, and the men involved were all of Pakistani heritage (apart from one man from Afghanistan), and all from Muslim backgrounds. In contrast, the girls were all from poor, white, working-class backgrounds.
Meanwhile a senior Home Office adviser has just come forward and said that there has been a recent increase in the number of attacks by far-right groups, particularly on Islamic organisations and individuals following the Rotherham abuse scandal and the beheadings of hostages by Isis. At the same time we have also seen in this country an increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks, as people react to what they see as unfair and disproportionate conduct by Israel in Gaza.
And I think that the referendum campaign in Scotland has really highlighted the nationalistic attitudes of the SNP – dubbed the Scottish Nasty Party – whose attitude towards even Scottish people who disagree with their viewpoint, let alone someone from England who disagrees with them – is aggressive and sometimes violent.
While I don’t support anyone attacking another person, I’m not very surprised that parts of society who feel that they don’t have representation have taken it upon themselves to attack groups they see as linked with hideous crimes.
The serious case review into the situation in Rochdale showed there was a “shocking” inability to protect seven young girls from sexual exploitation, with Rochdale’s Borough Safeguarding Children Board highlighting failures by 17 different agencies, and exposing massive police failings. It was very similar with the Jay report into the Rotherham abuse scandal that came out last month, prompting a debate about whether police and other agency failings in this appalling saga was, in fact, the result of organisations’ fears that they might appear “racist”.
If people perceive that certain groups in society are treated differently to others, than resentment will be created. And when it’s discovered that these groups have indeed broken the law, should we be surprised when people try to take revenge, particularly when the police have been linked with turning a blind eye?
Instead of everyone focusing attention on a few trouble-makers, we need to look at the reason that abuse was allowed to occur under the eyes of the authorities, with no one trying to stop it. Even when victims came forward, it seems clear that their allegations were considered less important than remaining free from potential accusations of racism.
It seems that we have entered a period of segregated groups after years of forced multiculturalism. In order to bring an end to this type of behaviour, everyone in this country, regardless of colour or religion, must be treated the same as each other. That means an end to all types of discrimination – yes even the so called “positive” type.Reuse content