Both Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron and Labour’s national leader Ed Miliband have criticized the decision and affirmed that UKIP is not a racist party. However, both leaders’ sudden sympathy for UKIP and their criticism of overbearing officialdom ring rather hollow. Despite their differences on many policies, both men embody a strain of condescending, progressive, and “modern” thinking that would suggest they have more sympathy with the position of Rotherham council than they’re letting on.
Miliband is the quintessential modern leftist, and came to prominence in the Labour government that under Tony Blair was largely responsible for inflicting mass immigration, multiculturalist dogma, and political correctness on Britain. But with Labour losing white working-class voters to UKIP — and in the north of England in particular — he’s been forced to adopt a very different and thoroughly unconvincing tune, suggesting that his party made mistakes on immigration in the past.
Cameron is in an even more awkward position. In 2006, shortly after becoming Conservative leader and keen to move his party to the center and to rid it of the “nasty” label it had been stuck with by its political opponents and sections of the media, he notoriously described UKIP members as “fruitcakes, loonies, and closet racists.”
But the Conservatives too have lost supporters to the party, and UKIP’s share of the vote in the 2010 general election is thought to have cost the party as many as 21 seats and thus an overall majority in the House of Commons. With the Tories now trailing Labour in the polls, many Conservative MPs have been urging Cameron to move to the right on both immigration and Europe, and the idea of an electoral pact between the parties is being floated.
Amid the political fallout from the Rotherham case, it’s important not to lose sight of who the real victims are: three vulnerable children, desperately in need of love and stability, who have been wrenched from parents who were providing both.
While the council’s decision to remove the children is a chilling assault on freedom of thought and political belief, it’s also dreadful policy in practical terms. Britain is facing an adoption crisis. In 2010, just over 3,000 children were adopted, out of more than 65,000 in the care system, with the rest shunted between foster parents or languishing in children’s homes. The head of a leading children’s charity has warned that under the draconian rules imposed by social services departments, most parents wouldn’t be allowed to adopt their own children.
The government has proposed legislation that would prevent social workers from taking ethnic and cultural factors into account when placing children for fostering or adoption. But controversies such as the one unfolding in Rotherham can only discourage prospective parents from coming forward.