There's a stench in the air, the stench of opportunism. Rotherham Borough Council's decision to remove foster kids from a couple on the grounds they are UKIP members has caused something of a stir this morning. Farage has been dribbling his outrage over the airwaves, describing it as "typical of the bigotry you get from the Labour Party and Labour-controlled councils." Gove has now waded in and said there will be an investigation on top of one hastily announced by the Borough Council itself.
You could be forgiven for thinking there's a by-election on.
Let's get the established facts out of the way first. The children, who are from BME backgrounds, were apparently removed because the head of the council's Children and Young People's Services, Joyce Thacker, felt obligated *by the law* to ensure their cultural and "ethnic needs" were met. While not believing UKIP are a racist party, their forthright views on immigration and multiculturalism were suspect enough for her to take action.
While it would be tempting to read this through the filter of authoritarian do-gooding - a view UKIP are certainly pushing - the decision taken by Thacker and her department has to be seen in the context we find ourselves.
These last ten years there has been a drip-drip of high profile child protection scandals. Baby P. Victoria Climbie. Khyra Ishaq. Each of these appalling cases showed up frightening failings in social services departments, which prompted press attacks on the social work profession generally and changes to the law. And, in case you hadn't noticed, there is a particularly febrile atmosphere in Britain right now thanks to Jimmy Savile's exposure as a serial child sex offender and the subsequent fall out.
It was a case of Rotherham CYPS being damned if they did act. And damned if they didn't. Surely it is right and proper for the inquiries to now take their course. After all, most people pontificating on this now aren't child care professionals, least of all Gove, Farage, and the permanently outraged of Twitterland.