Letters: Stop blaming the Rotherham abuse scandal on race

These letters appear in the August 29 edition of The Independent

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It’s time to stop the nonsense about the excuse in Rotherham being “the fear of being accused of racism”. In the first place, Pakistani girls were also being abused. In the second place, it is racist to apply different and lower standards to a minority ethnic community than the white English community.

It was, then, not about political correctness gone mad or the failures of a multicultural society (Edward Thomas, letter, 28 August). It was about extreme sexism on the part of all those who viewed the girls as prostitutes instead of victims.

Merry Cross



Is there any evidence that the authorities would have acted differently if the perpetrators had been white? It seems that they would have had different conversations to engineer different excuses, but would that have changed their actions?

The race angle is a red herring, designed to distract us from a pervasive victim-blaming culture that runs through all communities, including white ones.

Samantha Chung



I do not seek to comment upon the individuals whose neglect allowed the shocking abuse in Rotherham, but to raise the question of how great a part the decades of domination of Rotherham by a single political party played in allowing the scandal to continue for so long.

Under one-party control, too often “Buggins’ turn” operates and more active individuals of that same party are held back or denied the opportunity to serve as councillors. It also engenders a tendency to “not rock the boat”. In contrast, a change of political control can act as a fresh breeze, invigorating both councillors and council employees. The threat of losing a seat can enliven councillors, while council staff are aware of the pressures that a strong opposition can bring. Equally the opposition, spurred on by the prospect of power, are likely to pursue a whiff of scandal – even if only for political gain.

Why were there no whistleblowers in Rotherham? With 1,400 cases of abuse? Surely one person at least ought to have raised and pursued the issue with council officers or councillors. What was (is?) wrong with the political culture in Rotherham that let the abuse continue for so long?

Brian Jones



Worst result is a close result

I believe there could be a bad public reaction to a very narrow majority in the Scottish vote.

If there is a clear majority either way it will be accepted by all. But it is likely that the majority will be vary narrow one way or the other. In this event, I foresee problems as people become resentful at “losing their birthright” or “being dragged into a foreign country against their will”. Civil disturbances and even “racist” attacks could follow.

Have the civil authorities on either side of the border taken this calamitous possibility into account and made plans to cope with the situation? Or will they just “muddle through” as usual?

Peter Milner



If England and Scotland were already separate independent countries, would people from either country be clamouring for a union between the two nations? I find it difficult to imagine such a demand arising.

Andrew Davis

Weybridge, Surrey


No one is consulting me about the Scottish referendum, nor the millions like me. We don’t have a vote and yet we care about it very much.

My mother was a proud Scot from the Highlands, and she married an Englishman. I enjoy hybrid vigour. It so happens that I live in England, but I am not English or Scottish.

This is not about who scores the best points in a TV debate. It is about who we are. I don’t want an independent Scotland or an independent England. I am British, and I want to remain a citizen of the United Kingdom, with all the pride that belonging to that union implies. 

Elizabeth Morison Proudman



A question that seems neither to have been asked of nor answered by Alistair Darling, and which may greatly influence voting intentions: if Scotland does vote for independence, would he stand for the new Scottish Parliament or would he find an English, Welsh or Northern Ireland seat and seek to continue his Westminster career?

John Hein



This is a war between Sunni and Shia

I find it difficult to agree with your editorial of 22 August, in which you conclude that “what we are dealing with is an explicit war against America and the West”. 

On the contrary, I see the Islamic State war as an escalation of the ongoing struggle between Sunni and Shia. Atrocities against Christians, Yazidis, and the odd British or American hostage are guaranteed to provoke Western governments into violent reaction, but what is the point of bombing Isis, when Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states in the Middle East appear to condone their activities? 

I have not seen any reports of these states condemning the horrors Isis is perpetrating in the name of Sunni “purity”. Perhaps a better solution would be for the West to use diplomatic channels, either direct or through the United Nations, to put pressure on Saudi Arabia to cut off military and financial aid to Isis.

John Read

Saffron Walden, Essex


Workers motivated by public spirit

I feel sorry for Ian Jones (letter, 20 August). He seems to live in a world where the only reason to perform better is competition with a rival company.

The most effective driver to improve is self-respect and a desire to do one’s best for others. When I worked at John Lewis in the 1970s, I rarely met members of the public. I moved furniture, prepared deliveries etc. However the ethos of my fellow workers ensured that I always tried to do my best, which also made the job more enjoyable.

As a teacher, I wanted to do better because I was affecting the futures of hundreds of young people, not in order to get better results than others.

Now, in retirement, I work as a volunteer for a charity, putting in many hours a week. We all try to make our project as successful as possible. If other such charities also do well, that is cause for celebration, not an inquest as to how to better them.

Is it not screamingly obvious that people will work much better if they have a stake in the enterprise? Being told that one is a “human resource”, there to maximise profits and grind rivals into the dust, leads to an uninterested workforce that is only there to get paid in order to live.

Rod Auton

Middle Handley, Derbyshire


Why hospital parking charges go up

I find it ironic that Jeremy Hunt is calling for a reduction in hospital car parking charges. 

The Government is starving NHS trusts of funding and so they are looking to make ends meet by bringing in extra income from other sources. Unfortunately many of these sources are the ones which impact on visitors and staff. 

Hunt and this government refused to honour the NHS independent pay review boards’ recommendation that NHS staff be given a  1 per cent pay rise. Instead a limited number of health-care staff are getting a small increase, but one which will be removed in 2016, taking them back down to the same level of wages as they earned in 2013.

Demoralised staff are likely to leave, many opting for agency work. The costs of agency staff are huge in comparison with properly employed NHS workers, so it means the hospital has to look for other ways to bring in vital revenue. Hence a hike in car parking fees. 

If the Government would honour the pay award with a consolidated 1 per cent, and pay a living wage for the 35,000 NHS staff who are paid under it, they might find their retention levels improved, they spent less on agency staff and didn’t need to get money in from increasing car parking charges. 

Jo Rust

King’s Lynn, Norfolk


A poor ‘victory’ for Israel

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claims the seven-week conflict in Gaza ended in “victory”. Presumably he is not taking into account the fact that thousands of people around the world will now be looking a lot closer at the country of origin on the products they buy.

Sam Semoff



Power vacuum in Brussels

From 1 September, companies will be prohibited from manufacturing or importing any vacuum cleaner with a motor above 1,600 watts. The European Commission is guilty of blowing yet another blast of hot air.

Colin Bower