Does Labour have anything to fear from UKIP in Rotherham?


5:52 pm - November 25th 2012

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by Giselle Green

Nigel Farage must think Christmas has come a month early. The extraordinary decision by Rotherham Social Services to apparently rip apart a thriving foster family because the parents were members of UKIP has delivered the PR goal of the season to Mr Farage.

Public sympathy for Farage must be at an all time high. He can also thank the car crash interviews of Rotherham’s Director of Children’s Services Joyce Thacker who explained that the “strong views” of UKIP members were incompatible with looking after kids who are “not indigenous white”.

Social workers had apparently gone further and told the foster mum that UKIP has racist policies, implying that she and her husband were also racists. Putting aside the rights and wrongs of UKIP’s stated policy of ending mass immigration, surely the very fact that these people, who had been “exemplary” foster parents for nearly 7 years, took on these children undermines the council’s own argument.

One possibility behind the curious decision is that social workers may have been guilty of confusing UKIP with the BNP. Maybe they had seen the ComRes poll last week which showed around 12% of UKIP supporters would seriously consider voting BNP at the next election. (5% of Labour supporters would do the same.) Or maybe they were too closely studying David Cameron’s now infamous description of UKIP in 2006 as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”. This statement was denied yesterday, then hastily un-denied.

The overlooked political aspect of this affair though is why are former Labour voters turning to UKIP? The foster parents apparently used to be Labour supporters but switched to UKIP a couple of years ago. Ed Miliband has called for an urgent investigation into Rotherham council’s actions.

Maybe what he needs to call for is an urgent investigation into whether this anecdotal evidence is part of a wider picture. There are endless polls on how many Tory voters might put their cross in the UKIP box. Last week’s ComRes poll showed 26% of Tory voters would “seriously consider” voting for UKIP. But I can’t recall any that look at the UKIP threat to Labour. Is this because there is no perceived threat?

Certainly the Labour candidate in the Rotherham by-election may now be feeling the heat from the UKIP scandal, given the decision to remove the foster children was made by a Labour-led council and she could find votes slipping away because of it.

Interestingly, Nigel Farage admitted on LBC yesterday that he would be prepared to deal with Labour in the event of a hung parliament. He also said he was even prepared to deal with the devil. Form the time being though, Mr Farage must be counting his blessings.


Giselle Green ran Siobhan Benita’s media campaign in the London Mayoral election

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Reader comments


Although I’m looking at this from a fair distance, I’d think a more relevant question should be “do the people of Rotherham have anything to fear from Labour?”

(with the answer being “maybe”, as the Labour policies seem actually scary.)

Compared with one UKIP MP, the voters of Rotherham probably had a great deal more to fear from Denis Macshane MP, the Euro-enthusiast, in his capacity as New Labour Minister for Europe. If Macshane could have had his way, Britain would be part of the Eurozone.

The extraordinary decision by Rotherham Social Services to apparently rip apart a thriving foster family because the parents were members of UKIP…

Another useful data point. They come thick and fast this time of year!

4. Dick the Prick

Maybe nationally but certainly not in Rotherham. This whole thing should be regarded as pure comedy – it shouldn’t even touch Labour’s local government party – maybe a blip but nothing more. Having worked quite closely with a portfolio holder for kiddy services, i’d be rather surprised if your Labour portfolio holder or the Labour leader were even informed of this. It’s a paid service officer going off reservation with spectacular timing.

That said, if UKIP takes 5-10% off Labour nationally, they’re still getting 90 – 95% of Tories and Libs and I would suspect that most Libbers would go home to Mummy Labour. After the amount of judicial reviews of kiddy care breakdowns i’ve been through – this one is lovely, nobody hurt and a proper dick in the spotlight. Give her £300k and tell her to fuck off. Me and my mum fostered for 7 years and the first 3 years involved trying to stop him pissing in his bedroom, beating up smaller kids, nicking stuff etc etc and i’m not sure UKIP comes into that. I really do think UKIP are extreme though – the weasels are talking about no university fees – insane!

Who gives a single little toss?

@OP, Giselle Green: “He can also thank the car crash interviews of Rotherham’s Director of Children’s Services Joyce Thacker who explained that the “strong views” of UKIP members were incompatible with looking after kids who are “not indigenous white”.”

Are you sure about those quotes? I listened to that dreadful interview on Radio 4 twice and heard a woman who could talk a lot without saying anything. My recollection is that she did not try to defend the decision but talked about it.

“Social workers had apparently gone further and told the foster mum that UKIP has racist policies, implying that she and her husband were also racists.”

That’s a new story to me. Do you have a source?


OP: “The overlooked political aspect of this affair though is why are former Labour voters turning to UKIP? The foster parents apparently used to be Labour supporters but switched to UKIP a couple of years ago. Ed Miliband has called for an urgent investigation into Rotherham council’s actions.”

That is an extraordinarily dumb paragraph. Read it to yourself and determine which clause has a connection with the preceding onea.


I’m a sceptic. I’m repulsed by the manipulation of the story of children and foster parents for party political gain or to push any policy.

There is more to this story, and not only the fact that many a council, perhaps all of them these days, is being run by Officers instead of by Councillors, a baleful state of affairs which goes back to the 1980s, but about which nothing was done while, for example, Hilary Armstrong was Local Government Minister and telling Councillor-laden meetings, which I attended, how much she believed in the municipal process. UKIP could not have bought publicity like this, right where and when it was fighting a parliamentary by-election. Surely no one is quite that hopeless a coincidence theorist?

UKIP is making a play for the white vote while having, it feels, conceded the Asian vote to Respect following the deeply flawed Labour selection process. But Respect won every ward at Bradford West, including the all-white ones. Bradford West, by the way, was no “Labour heartland”, having been a Conservative target seat in 2010. Respect’s candidate at Rotherham, like its candidate at Bradford West, is white. Clearly Respect-supporting, but conveniently unattributable, leaflets are accusing Labour of returning to the politics of the National Front in the 1970s. A bit strong, but I do not know whom Labour functionaries expect to be fooled by the maiden aunt act. Wasting police time, more like it.

Respect’s candidate at Croydon North is neither Asian nor Muslim. He is Lee Jasper, the veteran ruler of Operation Black Vote. He needs to be asked exactly how representative either he or it is of family-centred churchgoers who cherish the monarchy’s role in the Commonwealth, who value traditional methods and structures of education (even to the extent of sending children to live with relatives in Africa or the Caribbean in order to benefit from them), and who believe most strongly that immigrants to this country ought to use correct spoken and written English. But, and I only ask, is the Labour candidate in any position to pose this question? If not, then why is that person the Labour candidate?

If the recent proposal to use the black churches to get out the black vote really comes to anything, and it has not done so in the past, then it will make a very significant difference indeed. If your main concern is to organise against Islamisation, then you could want no voters more than Christians from West Africa and the belt across the centre of that continent. Only three other groups are as reliable in this cause. One is the Greeks in general and the Greek Cypriots in particular, of which latter one in six in the world already lives in the United Kingdom. Another is the Slavs, among whom the Poles predominate in this country. And the third is the ancient indigenous Christians of the Middle East, with their brethren in the Indian Subcontinent.

London has a higher level both of professing Christians and of regular churchgoers than the country as a whole, which in the former case is saying quite something when you consider that the national figure is 72 per cent. The huge London statistics are because of black Londoners. Up to now, though, they have been unregistered, or abstaining, or disorganised. If they were not so by the time of the next Mayoral Election in 2016, then the question would be which leading pastor would carry the torch for all three of social justice, peace, and traditional family values against the candidate of rapacious global capital, the sexually louche and pro-drugs incumbent who believes that Christianity overthrew a superior civilisation. Whichever leading pastor had not been made a Labour MP the year before.

Assuming, of course, that any leading pastor had not been made a Labour MP the year before. A lot of them, and I do mean a lot of them, have very close ties, and I do mean very close ties, to Maurice Glasman and Blue Labour. There is ample time for them to sign up their entire congregations to the locally dominant Constituency Labour Parties. As the Catholic Church more or less used to do. And as the Methodist chapels actually started the Labour Party by doing. Community organising, indeed.

And not only in London. Not only in London at all.

8. the a&e charge nurse

Did the social workers only become aware of UKIPs policies after the children were fostered?

Surely there was a selection process – it’s only fair that local authority panels should alert prospective applicants (in advance) which political parties are OK, or not OK to be affiliated to?

Anyway if a ‘christian’ or ‘muslim’ child (sic) is placed preferentially with a christian or muslim family – surely a right wing bigoted child should be afforded the same sort of cultural matching?

9. Dick the Prick

@David Lindsay – are you just whinging about losing some of the asian vote there?

@ Charlieman

I listened to that dreadful interview on Radio 4 twice and heard a woman who could talk a lot without saying anything. My recollection is that she did not try to defend the decision but talked about it.

I listened to it also and Thacker had little choice but to defend it, as it was her decision.

She said she had previously been criticised for making a placement which had not been appropriate to the “cultural and ethnic needs” of the child and that UKIP did not have a positive attitude to multiculturalism.

The problem is that social work departments up and down the country are full of people educated in, and ideologically wedded to, this sort of claptrap and they are blissfully unaware that, outside of their bubble, most people know that it’s irrelevant.

What is important in making a foster placement is the needs of the individual child but these are conveniently and repeatedly being overlooked to assuage the moral relativism of the social workers.

The situation is even worse for adoptive parents who are quizzed about whether they have friends of different ethnic origins even when trying to adopt a child of the same ethnicity.

Why is that important?

@8. the a&e charge nurse: “Did the social workers only become aware of UKIPs policies after the children were fostered?”

That is unknown. What we know is: an allegation was made that the foster parents were members of UKIP.

“Surely there was a selection process – it’s only fair that local authority panels should alert prospective applicants (in advance) which political parties are OK, or not OK to be affiliated to?”

Yes, there is a legal requirement for a selection process. The process is intended to define whether applicants are appropriate and capable to care for foster children.

Political affiliation should not need to be asked. If the selection process is rigorous enough to identify appropriateness, it is sufficient.

@7. David Lindsay: “UKIP could not have bought publicity like this, right where and when it was fighting a parliamentary by-election. Surely no one is quite that hopeless a coincidence theorist?”

Ooh, are you suggesting that this is just a by-election stunt?

Only one man knew when he would resign his parliamentary seat in Rotherham. If anyone was sitting on this story about crass foster care management in Rotherham, to blow it off at by-election time, they’d have to be a hardened cynic.

Two broad organisations knew when children were removed from the “UKIP parents”: social services and the foster parents. And somebody else knew and created the press kerfuffle.

If that “somebody else” was involved in UKIP and the connection became known, the party would become untouchable.


This is a dreadful story about families and maladministration. We should comprehend it as such.

Over the course of this weekend I’ve been chatting about this story to social workers, solicitors, care leavers – basically people who know and understand the fostering process.

In doing so, what I’ve been repeatedly hearing from them is that there’s something about the case that doesn’t ring true. Decisions simply aren’t made in this way.

Quite possibly there may be a more complex set of issues going on than it’s being presented. However,if that were the case Rotherham Council wouldn’t be able to say that because they’re bound by confidentiality rules.

There may well be a whole other side to this story, but if so, it’s an other side that we probably won’t get to hear.

There is a long history of more or less dodgy politics in Rotherham. How come MacShane, a fanatical Europhile, was parachuted into the Labour safe seat of Rotherham in 1994?

Also, try this:

“A former deputy leader of Rotherham Council spent thousands of pounds of a charity’s cash on prostitutes, lavish hotels, meals, and outings, a court heard.

“Sheffield Crown Court was told how Garvin Reed was part of a conspiracy to defraud the National Local Government Forum Against Poverty of more than £172,000.

“A judge heard how widower Reed, 54, would pass himself off as a millionaire businessman, by living the high life between March 1996 and November 1998.”
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/2500037.stm

@10. pagar: “I listened to it also and Thacker had little choice but to defend it, as it was her decision.”

Your interpretation varies. I thought that she incompetently talked around the problem.

“The problem is that social work departments up and down the country are full of people educated in, and ideologically wedded to, this sort of claptrap and they are blissfully unaware that, outside of their bubble, most people know that it’s irrelevant.”

“Claptrap” is a brilliant word to the ear of an English speaker. It is more sparkling than the expression that “Joyce Thacker and her team were not doing the job”.

But that was what allegedly happened.

Whether Joyce Thacker daily bathes her social workers in a confetti of buzz words — something that I have just made up — does not matter. What matters are the services that they provide.

“What is important in making a foster placement is the needs of the individual child but these are conveniently and repeatedly being overlooked to assuage the moral relativism of the social workers.”

Err, no. Moral relativism is about turning a blind eye to female genital mutilation, gender oppression, caste abuse et al. It is not comparable with denying fostership or adoption when the parents are “the wrong colour”. Don’t merge two bunch of idiots; always know your idiots.

“The situation is even worse for adoptive parents who are quizzed about whether they have friends of different ethnic origins even when trying to adopt a child of the same ethnicity.”

Hmm, I know somebody who is applying to adopt. I’ll ask. (I suspect that it will be a Leicester answer, in that it is impossible to live here *without* having a friend of different ethnicity or sexual identity.)

16. Dick the Prick

Bollox to comparing Galloway with UKIP. Are we even speculating that UKIP could win? Turnout is a private psephelogical hobby but Owen Jones’ meekons did a Speccie ambush. How far does turnout rest? 10%, 18?, 7? FFS! What the papers say is on in a bit…..

All credit to Rotherham Council’s environmental health department for investigating and bringing to book this local scam to tidy up meat unfit for human consumption and sell it back into the human food chain:

The food standards agency yesterday admitted there was an “anomaly” in Britain’s regulation of contaminated poultry after three executives were found guilty of selling more than 1,000 tonnes of rotten petfood meat for human consumption.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2000/dec/22/foodanddrink

Reader discretion is advised before reading this news report in the Guardian.

18. the a&e charge nurse

[13] that thought crossed my mind, Zarathustra – but then I listened to Joyce Thacker ( Rotheram’s ‘Strategic Director of Children and Young People’s Services) – in her own words she says that the problem is the foster carer’s political affiliation.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20476654

the lessons from the neo far left labour fascists in rotherham council with there big brother thought police type attitude to adoption is simple,dont adopt children to politacal extremists who support far left ideologys like the socalist workers party,the communist party or with marxist thinkers,the rise of the extreme left in this country is worrying,rotherham council is proof of that this week.no doubt this comment wont be published because rattle the cage of the stalinists and expect a iron fist in your face.

20. RWingNeanderthal

Let’s have this anti-gay nutter government in rotheram and see how long it takes before they long for both right-wing but not ultra-right parties back.

No literate person would vote for a person who models himself on Joe McCarthy.

21. Dick the Prick

@Stuart – well done lad, first time here and we all appreciate it. I balme MacShane, his Rothko defence was countered by tippex! At no point is this a local gov politics problem – this was either a subtle baloon or a knobhead. Scrutiny should remain on sex pestery not politics. It’s a horrid shakedown.

FWIW my view is that New Labour, with Blair as PM, decided to relax immigration controls partly to alleviate scarce skill shortages – entrepreneurs, nurses, medical doctors, IT skills – and partly because immigration would benefit Labour in the polls, not least because part of the Conservative party could be relied on to make hostile comments about immigrants and ethnic minorities. Hard-headed analysis and the evidence shows that those with low skills and low incomes bear the main economic impact of immigration.

@18

She confirmed that it was an issue. What she wouldn’t have been able to do (because of confidentiality) is to confirm or deny whether it was the *only* issue.

My co-blogger Abe Laurens has written a very interesting analysis here: http://notsobigsociety.wordpress.com/2012/11/24/rotherham-truth-and-politics/

Basically what those with more experience of fostering decisions than me are saying is that either the council has behaved in a very bizarre and unusual manner, or there are simply other issues here in addition to those in the public domain.

Whatever the truth behind the story, one thing that can be said with certainty is that the various statements by Nigel Farage, Michael Gove and Ed Miliband have nothing to do with child welfare and all to do with political jockeying in a fast-approaching by-election.

Fuck’s sake. The kids were non-anglophone immigrants; of course they shouldn’t be placed with bigots. And all UKIP supporters are bigots, even the ones who are in denial about it. End of story.

25. Teddy Mcnabb

I would have thought our unfortunate children have more to fear from the likes of “PIE” Harman, “Islington” Hodge or “Porn Video” Smith to name just a few! They could ALL claim expenses too.

@john b.you have just really exposed your own stereotyping and bigotary in your ill informed comments just there.you can do better than that mate,you really could do with a nice cup of bovil with a pinch of pepper to keep yourself warm om this cold night my freind.

Ignorant analysis
The racist label was applied because of more than just the mass immigration issue which is irrelevant but views on multicultralism, burkha
Sorry you cant risk childrens future putting them in families who hate them

@27 “Sorry you can’t risk childrens future putting them in families who hate them”

Exactly. UKIP is a racist party for racists. It’s all about bigotry. To say it isn’t racist is laughable.

The shocking thing is the behaviour of labour. Why didn’t Miliband take a stand against nazism instead of supporting it?

Dick the Prick: ‘@David Lindsay – are you just whinging about losing some of the asian vote there?’

I don’t think even David Lindsay knows what he’s ‘whinging about’. Heaven help the rest of us!

Stuart: ‘…the neo far left labour fascists in rotherham council’.

Now that’s a mouthful and a half.

Out of interest, did you come up with that one all by yourself, or did you have help from others?
_ _ _ _ _

Zarathustra seems to be making the most sense here: something does seem really odd about this whole controversy, which makes me want to know more before I rush to judgement.

To take the story at face value and play devil’s advocate, however, it may very well be that this whole controversy just underlines what an impossible situation child protection officers find themselves in.

That is, one could quite easily imagine a counter-scenario where a racist white family fostered a non-white child and badly mistreated them. Then, in the course of the public investigation into the case, it is revealed that said family are members of a political party that for many people straddles the so-to-speak ‘racist line’, occasionally falling foul of it.

If such a situation were to occur, one could imagine the public uproar and the clamour for political vetting of foster parents. Although in this case as well, the child protection officers would still be vilified; theirs is a lose-lose job.

PS. UKIP may not be a racist party per se – personally, I have my doubts and consider Farage to be a very dangerous man in saintly garb. However, without question, there ARE racists in UKIP’s ranks.

See this lovely collection of comments from Maggie Chapman, an election agent for a UKIP parliamentary candidate who also seems to have links to the EDL/SDL: http://twitpic.com/9n55py/full

@ 24, 27 & 28.

Indeed. UKIP is crawling with nazis. Deva Kumarasiri, Sunita Webb, Rustie Lee, Mahzar Manzoor… white supremacist bigots every one… oh… hang on…

@#30, ‘tfiyufwefg’ – is that Welsh? ;)

There’s an old joke that used to do the rounds in 1930s Berlin, it went something like this: ‘Hitler hates queers and cripples, I wonder when someone will tell him about Ernst Röhm and Joey Goebbels’.

Correlation does not imply causation: non-white people joining a political party does not necessarily mean that the party doesn’t have a racist agenda. Heck, many German Jews were members of the DNVP, but nevertheless, the DNVP was stuffed with raving anti-Semites and had anti-Semitic elements in its programme.

Issues of content are more important than those of form.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that as with the pasty tax controversy (which was senior civil servants’ idea, rather than George Osborne’s), that our ostensibly ideological neutral civil servant and council worker (particularly around senior manager levels) departments are usually anything but. I’d be wary of ascribing to them any sort of allegiance to political parties, since chances are they’ll have seen MP’s and councillors come and go over the years and will have developed the idea that they know best.

“Issues of content are more important than those of form.”

And yet your argument is apparently based on the opposite premise: there may be racists in UKIP, therefore membership may imply racism. Form over content.

To demonstrate the absurdity of this position, let’s similarly argue that any given practising Roman Catholic, self-identifying with a church containing numerous (confessed and/or convicted) child abusers, may therefore be a kiddy fiddler and unfit to foster.

RichardT: ‘And yet your argument is apparently based on the opposite premise: there may be racists in UKIP, therefore membership may imply racism. Form over content.’

I argued no such thing, Richard.

What I said is that UKIP *might* be a racist party and there *are* racists in its ranks.

There’s no if…then structure, i.e. no conclusion, just two statements; one of which expresses a possibility, the other, a fact.

If you’re going to try and be a clever clogs, Richard, at least make sure you have a basic grasp of logic and sufficient reading comprehension, else you’ll end up arguing against strawmen that exist in your imagination alone.

“What I said is that UKIP *might* be a racist party and there *are* racists in its ranks.”

In which case I was crediting you with too rational an argument.

The first assertion is wholly speculative – and denied consistently by the party in question – while the latter is a complete irrelevance, given that it could equally be directed at any other party, Labour included.

Spurious guilt by questionable association. Indefensible logically or morally.

UKIP may not be a racist party per se – personally, I have my doubts and consider Farage to be a very dangerous man in saintly garb. However, without question, there ARE racists in UKIP’s ranks.

There are racists in the membership of every British political party. There are racist members of the National Trust.

“And all UKIP supporters are bigots, even the ones who are in denial about it.”

Well, thanks John B, most kind of you.

“The overlooked political aspect of this affair though is why are former Labour voters turning to UKIP?”

Two things here. There’s a very strong strain of “Old Labour” in UKIP. Certainly many of the people who have been in the party since inception are motivated by a real hatred of Tories.

The second is that there’s a real chance that the first UKIP seat (s) in the Commons (and I do indeed think this will happen, that seats will get won in the future) will come from beating Labour in the old industrial heartlands, not from beating Tories in the South.

May or may not be Rotherham, or Hartlepool, or…..but there is indeed a good chance that it will be one of those seats where they used to weigh the Labour vote that we win in first.

37
‘The second is that there’s a real chance that the first UKIP seat(s) in the Commons ………. will come from beating Labour in the old industrial heartlands, not from beating Tories in the South’.

Yep, there’s every chance that you’ll you be right.

39. Man on Clapham Omnibus

Social workers had apparently gone further and told the foster mum that UKIP has racist policies, implying that she and her husband were also racists.

ARENT THEY? You mean I can be a NAZI and still be a socialist? Sounds a bit like Blairism to me.

Putting aside the rights and wrongs of UKIP’s stated policy of ending mass immigration, surely the very fact that these people, who had been “exemplary” foster parents for nearly 7 years, took on these children undermines the council’s own argument.

Not really it depends how/when a definition of exemplary is arrived at and whether it includes the potential of regularly goose stepping up and down the hallway biting heads off whippets etc.

Once that knowledge is acquired isn’t it incumbent upon the authorities to consider it.

“You mean I can be a NAZI and still be a socialist?”

Luckily for you, you can, being as how the NAZI party = National Sozialistische Arbeiter Partei = National Socialist Workers’ Party.

Isn’t politics wonderful!

Godwin’s Law alert!

42. Chaise Guevara

@ 39 MoCO

I am reasonably certain that no council’s definition of “exemplary parent” includes goose-stepping.

In any case, the council’s own statement seems to be that they took action because the parents were UKIP members. Apparently membership of a party that probably has some racists in it (i.e. all of them) means that you must be racist yourself despite volunteering to raise kids of a different race.

Doesn’t ring true, does it?

43. the a&e charge nurse

[24] McCarthy would have been thrilled at the logic of this argument. There are ways and means of spotting UKIP members – but don’t forget physical appearance counts for nothing
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkYl_AH-qyk&feature=related

RichardT: ‘The first assertion is wholly speculative’.

Of course it’s speculative, hence the use of may/might.

Well done though, you’ve managed to state the bleeding obvious!

RichardT: ‘…and denied consistently by the party in question’.

The BNP also denies it’s a racist party. However, that something is denied, does not make it untrue. If this weren’t the case, then the legal system would be far simpler in its operation.

And yes, UKIP is, in their own lexicon, a ‘libertarian, non-racist’ party. That is, a ‘libertarian’ party that rejects the free movement of labour and capital across Europe in favour of national protectionism, that opposes gay marriage, that favours a more draconian system of law and order, etc.

In other words, UKIP is a socially conservative party which is only ‘libertarian’ insofar as its economic policy is concerned: i.e., it supports a small state, but the socal order it favours in such a state would be far from ‘libertarian’.

Or in other words again, UKIP is in essence the extreme right-wing of British conservatism, which is hardly surprising, as this is the wing of the Conservative Party that UKIP’s founder-leader was himself on when he was in the Conservative Party.

RichardT: ‘…the latter is a complete irrelevance, given that it could equally be directed at any other party, Labour included.’

Tim J: ‘There are racists in the membership of every British political party. There are racist members of the National Trust.’

Indeed there are racists within the ranks of other political parties and various organisations. That much is obvious.

However, whether such persons are influential members who reflect institutional policies and culture, or ‘loose canons’ who don’t and are subject to institutional disciplinary procedures, even expulsion/dismissal, are important and by no means irrelevant questions, because the answers to these questions will tell us a lot about the institution itself.

Certainly, whether UKIP is a racist party or not, outside of the BNP, you’d probably struggle to find someone in as important a position as Maggie Chapman making the kind of vile public pronouncements that she did.

Moreover, Richard, it’s telling that your reaction to these comments was not condemnation, but to dismiss them as ‘a complete irrelevance’. It’s even more telling if you’re a UKIP member/supporter, because despite having the odd racist in their ranks, I doubt you’d find many Lib Dem, Labour or Conservative members/supporters who’d take such a dismissive view if one of their members said similar things.

Chaise Guevara: ‘Doesn’t ring true, does it?’

Ever heard of the white man’s burden Chaise?

There’s a long-history of racists thinking their calling is to ‘civilise’ those of the ‘lesser race’. This might not be what happened here, but I see no reason to dismiss it out of hand as a possible explanation.

What is the big deal here? We do not be introducing innocent children into a World of ‘strutting little Englander’ politics. This couple are clearly unsuited to be foster parents because they lack empathy and common decency. Not only that I am willing to lay a fiver down to suggest that they the type of people who moan all the time about ‘State handouts’. Ever seen what these people get in ‘allowances’?

You know what? The Right Wing cunts that infest this blog have the solution at hand. If they are so concerned about the role of social workers, why not b become one? Anyone can sit at keyboard and type away, but if you were really concerned, why not join up and get qualified?

No, that would take commitment and more than a little humanity.

This couple are clearly unsuited to be foster parents because they lack empathy and common decency.

They’ve been “exemplary” foster parents for 7 years.

47. Chaise Guevara

@ 44 Feodor

“There’s a long-history of racists thinking their calling is to ‘civilise’ those of the ‘lesser race’. This might not be what happened here, but I see no reason to dismiss it out of hand as a possible explanation.”

Well, ok, it doesn’t straight out disprove that they’re racist. But the reason given for claiming they are racist is laughable. People join UKIP because they get misty-eyed about the local pub, for crying out loud.

Chaise: ‘People join UKIP because they get misty-eyed about the local pub, for crying out loud.’

And they also join because they wish to see an end to immigration and the repatriation of foreign-born nationals, for crying out loud!

Indeed, if anything, your view of UKIP members is quite insulting: I’m sure the vast majority of them don’t base their political affiliations on such specious grounds.

49. the a&e charge nurse

[45] ‘What is the big deal here’ – I hear the children have been split up since being removed from the foster family.

Do we know the political background, or religious convictions of the new, new family – how can we be sure they are clean?

TIm J @ 46

They’ve been “exemplary” foster parents for 7 years.

Have they been members of a vile, racist Party in all that time?

Jim, let us know which political parties, if any, it’s safe to be a member of if one wants to foster children.

Have they been members of a vile, racist Party in all that time?

That’s the good old Salem spirit. “I saw Goody Farage with the devil!”

It is, of course, far better for the children that they be split up across three different families or remain in a care home than that they remain with a member of UKIP. And after all, we are thinking of what’s best for the children aren’t we?

To demonstrate the absurdity of this position, let’s similarly argue that any given practising Roman Catholic, self-identifying with a church containing numerous (confessed and/or convicted) child abusers, may therefore be a kiddy fiddler and unfit to foster.

I’m totally down with this, FWIW.

54. Chaise Guevara

@ 48 Feodor

“And they also join because they wish to see an end to immigration and the repatriation of foreign-born nationals, for crying out loud!”

Sure, but so what? How do you know which of the several possible reasons for joining this couple had? How do the authorities know? Where does this possibly add up to justifying the decision to split a family apart?

“Indeed, if anything, your view of UKIP members is quite insulting: I’m sure the vast majority of them don’t base their political affiliations on such specious grounds.”

For my statement to be true, a minimum of two UKIP members would have had to join for that reason. So I think your vast majority is safe.

You seem to be generalising a lot here. You appear to support an action based on the idea that “Some UKIPers are racist; these people are UKIPers; ergo these people are racist”, and you think that if I make a statement about some UKIPers, said statement must be applied to most/all members.

55. the a&e charge nurse

[52] ‘And after all, we are thinking of what’s best for the children aren’t we?’ – some here would prefer to see damaged children scattered across three continents rather than be exposed to a poster of Nigel Farage
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2011/12/14/1323857385311/Ukip-leader-Nigel-Farage-007.jpg

UKL @ 51

Any Party that doesn’t have explicit anti immigration, anti ‘multi culturalism’ etc at the heart of ideology. UKIP have a specific policy of ending the promotion ‘multiculturalism’. Now to be blunt I have no idea how such a policy would work in practice, but the mere fact that is declared policy of the Party, I think we are perfectly within our rights to use obvious indicators for suitability for fostering ‘non English’ children. People who are members of Parties whose central ideology is based around ‘hate’ should not be allowed to foster children.

Remember, children who end up in foster care can be disturbed or damaged and or often the most vulnerable in our society. Can you imagine allowing Tories to foster a child with learning difficulties or cerebral palsy? Really? We would subject a five year old to the type of verbal abuse that we see here in order to prove our ‘political neutrality’?

No way. We need to make value judgements sometimes. Sometimes people strap a warning light onto their heads and sometimes, just sometimes we need actually take heed of that.

Tim J @ 52

And after all, we are thinking of what’s best for the children aren’t we?

And the first family that is being split up due to your Party’s benefit cap/housing benefit rules will have you pleading for forgiveness, will it? You know, given that it is all about ‘the babies’.

Why pretend, Tim? This is about Right Wing solidarity and nothing to do with the children. There is scant evidence that your people have shown any compassion regarding the plight of millions of children whose parents have been deliberately driven into poverty by the type of policies espoused UKIP.

Chaise: ‘Sure, but so what?’

So what? Really Chaise?

I’d say that if the foster parents under discussion held views similar to those of, say, Maggie Chapman, then there might be very good grounds to remove the children, on account of the psychological torment that growing up in such a family could cause.

Chaise: ‘How do you know which of the several possible reasons for joining this couple had? How do the authorities know? Where does this possibly add up to justifying the decision to split a family apart?’

I don’t know, and moreover, neither do you.

If you look at my initial comment (post 29) on this topic, you’ll see that I said: ‘something does seem really odd about this whole controversy, which makes me want to know more before I rush to judgement’. Therefore, you’re constructing a strawman when you say I support action, as I’ve clearly stated that I’d like to know more of the details before I pass judgement.

You, on the other hand, do appear to have taken the view that Rotherham council has made an egregious error. You might be right, you might be wrong, but we simply can’t say for sure until we have more evidence. In this context, then, my responses to you have simply pointed to the possibility that Rotherham council might of acted appropriately, a possibility you seem to (rather rashly) discount out of hand.

Chaise: ‘You appear to support an action based on the idea that “Some UKIPers are racist; these people are UKIPers; ergo these people are racist”’.

If you’re going to try and deconstruct the logic of my argument, Chaise, at least get it right.

In succinct form, it’s more like: some UKIP members are racists, these people are UKIP members, therefore there’s a possibility these people are also racists.

Chaise: ‘You seem to be generalising a lot here… you think that if I make a statement about some UKIPers, said statement must be applied to most/all members.’

Generalisation is an incredibly important tool in all forms of analysis, as it allows us to narrow our focus upon what is relevant and fundamental.

That you more or less admit that your view on why people join UKIP doesn’t apply to most members, i.e. that it has little to no relevance, shows that you’re not really trying to get to the heart of the issue; rather, it seems like you just want to add layers of subterfuge.

59. Chaise Guevara

@ Feodor

“So what? Really Chaise?

I’d say that if the foster parents under discussion held views similar to those of, say, Maggie Chapman, then there might be very good grounds to remove the children, on account of the psychological torment that growing up in such a family could cause.”

I don’t know who that is, but if you mean seriously racist views, then I agree. My “So what?” referred to whether the facts under discussion show us that the parents are racist, not whether non-white kids should be placed with white, racist parents.

“Therefore, you’re constructing a strawman when you say I support action, as I’ve clearly stated that I’d like to know more of the details before I pass judgement.”

Fair enough and withdrawn.

“You, on the other hand, do appear to have taken the view that Rotherham council has made an egregious error. You might be right, you might be wrong, but we simply can’t say for sure until we have more evidence. In this context, then, my responses to you have simply pointed to the possibility that Rotherham council might of acted appropriately, a possibility you seem to (rather rashly) discount out of hand.”

OK, here’s my reasoning. The case as generally reported presents the council’s logic as specious. This includes what I’ve seen of the council’s own response – they basically confirm the accusation and say they think it was the right thing to do.

This doesn’t mean I can be certain. There are at least three possibilities that I consider unlikely but possible: 1) that the council had better reasons but has a justified reason for not saying so; 2) the council has been widely quote-mined to its loss, and 3) the spokesperson for the council simply took the widely circulated version of events at face value without checking first, leading them to defend an inaccurate portrayal of the council’s actions.

All that said, we do seem to have a situation where the council is accused of doing something bad, and its response is not to deny or clarify, but to say “actually, that thing’s not bad, it’s good”.

“If you’re going to try and deconstruct the logic of my argument, Chaise, at least get it right.

In succinct form, it’s more like: some UKIP members are racists, these people are UKIP members, therefore there’s a possibility these people are also racists.”

As you don’t necessarily support the council’s actions I’d change my statement a bit. But I would still say that there’s a possibility that anyone is racist. (Some people are racist, these are people, therefore they may be racist.) That doesn’t need proving and it’s not a justification for what happened. The evidence that they ARE racist so far presented is circumstantial, if it exists at all.

“Generalisation is an incredibly important tool in all forms of analysis, as it allows us to narrow our focus upon what is relevant and fundamental.”

Generalisation is indeed useful, but generalising from the specific and then assuming the result is literally true (“I have seen one Frenchman, he is blond, ergo all Frenchmen are blond”) is not a good idea.

“That you more or less admit that your view on why people join UKIP doesn’t apply to most members, i.e. that it has little to no relevance, shows that you’re not really trying to get to the heart of the issue; rather, it seems like you just want to add layers of subterfuge.”

Not at all, because my point is that there isn’t any good evidence, AFAIK, that these people are racist. At no point was I saying “these specific people probably joined UKIP because they like their local pub”. I was saying “people join UKIP for reasons having nothing to do with racism”.

Said reasons are not limited to liking pubs. I imagine (yes, I have no data, and nor do you, and if the council do then I haven’t heard about it) that a lot of people join UKIP because they make the right noises about Britishness and Tradition and Our Liz and Remember When You’d Wave Hello To The Local Bobbie On His Bike Every Morning. Labour and the Tories both try to invoke this too, but not as much, and are in any case hampered by sometimes being in government and having to deal with reality, not rose-tinted memories of a non-existent golden age.

And that’s just joining racism on the social side. Others might support it because they genuinely think immigration is bad for the local/national economy, or because they’re libertarians and UKIP is the least-worst option.

All of which is to say that, in trying to determine whether someone is racist, UKIP membership is not a smoking gun, or even that massive a bit of evidence. In trying to determine whether someone is so racist that they should have their foster kids taken away, this is even more true..

Chaise: ‘I don’t know who that is, but if you mean seriously racist views, then I agree.’

Judge for yourself: http://twitpic.com/9n55py/full

If one were to be pedantic about it, Ms/Mrs Chapman is likely more a bigot than a racist, in the strict, technical sense of the word – I haven’t forgot our other debate on such linguistic matters! Nevertheless, when one says such things in public, I wonder about what they say in private.

Chaise: ‘OK, here’s my reasoning…’

Read or re-read Zarathustra’s post @#13: as I’ve said previously, he or she seems to be making the most sense on this issue, and no matter how Rotherham council has justified its action publicly, I think it better to wait for more evidence to come out before we pass judgement.

An inquiry is most definitely needed, and moreover, I suspect there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye. I just can’t believe UKIP membership was the only relevant fact, there has to be something more to the issue.

Chaise: ‘Generalisation is indeed useful, but generalising from the specific and then assuming the result is literally true (“I have seen one Frenchman, he is blond, ergo all Frenchmen are blond”) is not a good idea.’

Yes, but if I expand on the previous summary of my argument then I think it’s nowhere near as specious as you make out. To wit:

1) UKIP is a political party that disproportionately attracts people who take a very hard line on immigration and related subjects.

2) Such positions typically and very closely straddle the line of what is and isn’t considered racist.

3) The foster parents in question were UKIP members.

4) Therefore, there is a greater than average chance that they hold views which make them unsuitable foster parents.

As you say, in itself this doesn’t prove anything and nor does it justify Rotherham council’s actions. But, nevertheless, it makes me inclined to think that there’s something more to this case, though we may well never know what this is.

Presumably, the foster parents will take legal action and a court will decide whether the council’s actions were justified or not, though the case details may well be kept secret. I would like to see the evidence, but if that’s not possible, I’ll accept the court’s judgement, whatever that may be.

Alternately, if the foster parents don’t take legal action, in itself that could be rather telling.

Chaise: ‘I was saying “people join UKIP for reasons having nothing to do with racism”.’

I think you’re downplaying how much the ‘Little Englander’ mentality straddles the line: when one talks to an ‘old-timer’ of this type, one realises just how often ideas of a ‘golden age’ act as a synonym/metaphor for the view that they’d like to return to a time when Britain was white and Christian.

To paraphrase David Starkey, they wish to return to a time when there was far less immigration and before ‘whites became black’. And if you can’t see how that’s a potentially very dangerous argument, then perhaps you should re-think describing yourself as a liberal-socialist.

Chaise: ‘And that’s just joining racism on the social side. Others might support it… because they’re libertarians and UKIP is the least-worst option.’

Yes, there is a strange marriage between social and economic libertarians and those who hold extremely socially conservative views.

In my opinion, realising that – for good reason – they’ll never win much popular support for their pro-rich economic policies, the libertarians drop their social liberalism in favour of a economically libertarian socially authoritarian programme, one which can win some popular support.

The modern Republican Party is the most notable example of this phenomenon, and to some extent, UKIP wants to become a replica of the most extreme Republican expression of it – i.e., the Tea Party cranks. (See also my comments on UKIP policy @#44.)

So, while the libertarians may not be racists per se, I still find their approach contemptible: at least among the higher-ups who are more than conscious of what the strategy is, they act as enablers who put achieving power over principle, in the process polluting the public consciousness with decidedly reactionary views.

The unconscious followers of this libertarian programme, however, the one’s who don’t understand the nature of the strategy and are too daft to see the logical incoherence of the economically liberal socially conservative position, act as little more than useful idiots. Not as great a ‘crime’, so to speak, but still one that draws my contempt.

Feodor: “Alternately, if the foster parents don’t take legal action, in itself that could be rather telling.”

The potential cost to the foster parents of taking legal action against Rotherham Council could be a powerful inhibiting factor.

OTOH Rotherham ratepayers will inevitably pick up the legal costs falling to Rotherham council and social services department.

It would be interesting and relevant to know whether the social services department consulted the chair of the relevant council committee or the council leader on such a politically sensitive issue before deciding to remove the children from their foster parents.

Bob: ‘The potential cost to the foster parents of taking legal action against Rotherham Council could be a powerful inhibiting factor.’

Does legal aid not cover these sorts of cases?

Nevertheless, even if they can’t get legal aid, given how the ‘political correctness has gone made’ crowd see this case, there must be a few wealthy benefactors out there willing to cover the legal costs. Indeed, Farage is not short of a few bob…

63. Chaise Guevara

@ Feodor

“Judge for yourself: http://twitpic.com/9n55py/full

Thanks. Judged, weighed in the balance and found wanting. I wouldn’t pussy-foot around on this one. She’s a card-carrying racist.

“Read or re-read Zarathustra’s post @#13 [...] I think it better to wait for more evidence to come out before we pass judgement.”

I do agree with this, but it’s possible to spend so much time waiting for evidence to come in that you never actually assess the situation. It’s one of those Bayesian controversies. I don’t want for this to fade away and for us all to be standing around saying “Welp, we don’t know for sure.”

“An inquiry is most definitely needed, and moreover, I suspect there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye. I just can’t believe UKIP membership was the only relevant fact, there has to be something more to the issue.”

That’s a distinct possibility. I imagine that people find themselves thinking “They’re just not good parents, and I can tell that, but I need a solid reason for saying so.” But I have no idea whether that was the case here.

“Yes, but if I expand on the previous summary of my argument… [brevity!]…Therefore, there is a greater than average chance that they hold views which make them unsuitable foster parents.”

True. TBH, I was rather dishonestly not mentioning this fact earlier because I was in Argument Mode, but it’s evidently true. An anti-immigration party will attract more than its share of racists. However, that’s not serious evidence against these specific people.

“As you say, in itself this doesn’t prove anything and nor does it justify Rotherham council’s actions. But, nevertheless, it makes me inclined to think that there’s something more to this case, though we may well never know what this is.”

Agreed.

“Alternately, if the foster parents don’t take legal action, in itself that could be rather telling.”

Of what? The law scares people, because it’s incomprehensible and intimidating to the layman. I agree that an innocent person would more likely demand a hearing than a guilty person, but if someone doesn’t sue that might mean they’re just scared, or that they’ve lost hope.

“I think you’re downplaying how much the ‘Little Englander’ mentality straddles the line: when one talks to an ‘old-timer’ of this type, one realises just how often ideas of a ‘golden age’ act as a synonym/metaphor for the view that they’d like to return to a time when Britain was white and Christian.”

Another thing I admit to consciously gliding over earlier. I’m well aware that it’s not a simple case of people voting for reason A or reason B, just as there is no easy dichotomy of racist/not-racist. Belief isn’t that simple.

“To paraphrase David Starkey, they wish to return to a time when there was far less immigration and before ‘whites became black’. And if you can’t see how that’s a potentially very dangerous argument, then perhaps you should re-think describing yourself as a liberal-socialist.”

Are you fucking kidding me? The only thing scarier than Starkey’s opinion was the fact that he evidently thought he could voice it out loud and find support as a reasonable person talking “common sense”, whatever the hell that means. It’s not just a dangerous argument, it’s morally disgusting, and it shows how people wear bigotry on their sleeve without knowing it. My liberal-socialist credentials are up for debate, if you like, although that debate would probably be annoying semantic. My opinion on Starkey’s bullshit is not.

“Yes, there is a strange marriage between social and economic libertarians and those who hold extremely socially conservative views…”

Cut for brevity, because I agree with everything in your post from this point down. As a general thing, I think that it’s politics making strange bedfellows. The enemies of libertarians and small-c conservatives alike are “liberals” in the American sense, i.e. people with liberal and socialist sensibilities. So they have to endure each other. Good luck to ‘em.

The major determinant of voting in Rotherham is habit. There is a habit of voting Lalour. Simple really.

In 2010 the Labour vote was in meltdown here. Labour heartland. Votes should be weighed rather than counted.

The UKIP thing is of little consequence. It is true Labour voters have their fascist wing,always have but this is diversion. Todays vote is a referendum on Labour.

Rotherham is a rotten borough and has been for years. What has changed is the widespread belief the thirteen years of Labour government was a waste of time.

Expect a good result for Respect and Milliband please note.

65. the a&e charge nurse

[61] “Alternately, if the foster parents don’t take legal action, in itself that could be rather telling.” – yes, they could be thinking, fuck it, a no-win job, like fostering unwanted children, is just not worth the consequences.

The adults have been traumatised.
The children have been split up.
And Social services have decided to back peddle on the UKIP version of the story, despite previous media announcements by their very own head honcho – what a shambles?

Perhaps Rotherham should use the case for their next advertising campaign when lamenting the fact so many children remain trapped in residential care while would-be fosters are in two minds about how they might be perceived when found wanting in the court of perfection?

62 Feodor: “Does legal aid not cover these sorts of cases?”

No. The presumption is that the local authority is the competent authority to decide whether foster carers are “suitable” because of their local knowledge. I suspect the fostering family in this case are not well-off – which could be among the family motives for fostering – and would find the potential cost of legal bills frightening.

I think we ought to know whether the Rotherham director of social services briefed the chair of the relevant council committee or the council leader before removing the children from their carers on what were obviously political grounds.

My hunch is that this was a misguided attempt to “get” at UKIP in a high-profile way before today’s byelection in Rotherham. If so, it was pathetic and I’ve no regard for UKIP.

67. the a&e charge nurse

Who gives a toss about the Rotherham result – there are far more important issues at stake here
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/28/adoption-too-many-obstacles-matching

For those sceptical of the ‘evil social workers rip apart foster family because political correctness gawn MAAADDD!’ line, it appears that that scepticism might well be borne out – http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/nov/30/ukip-row-many-reasons-children-removed

69. the a&e charge nurse

[68] the problem is placements decisions are driven by ideology rather than evidence.

Professors Julie Selwyn and David Quinton from the University of Bristol’s Hadley centre for adoption and foster care studies have concluded:
“Given the effort that goes into matching, it might be thought that there is good evidence that we know how often matching is achieved and that a good match makes a difference. Such research evidence is lacking: not just sparse, but virtually absent.”
see link @67

And Joyce Thacker cited UKIP rather than saying it was a complex case that could not be fully discussed due to reasons of confidentiality.


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