Wednesday 27 August 2014

How Not to Write About Rotherham

Sexual violence against women and girls comes in all skin colours, all languages, all forms of religious belief. One would hope its tacit acceptance by institutions laying claim to the protection of the most vulnerable lies in the distant past. But the report into the institutional silence, if not silencing of the victims of a Pakistani-descent paedophile gang shows this appalling abuse is not part of our uncomfortable yesterdays. It's contemporary, it's here, and lives are still being broken by sexual predators who rape children with seeming impunity.

Evidently, a lot of serious questions have to be asked in Rotherham. For instance, while our gutter press are playing up the Muslim/Pakistani connection I think more pertinent is a shared misogyny between the abusers and those tasked with enforcing the law and child protection. There's an obvious case for council officials and police officers to be investigated, for digging up the roots of this casual attitude to grooming and rape. Sackings should follow and, if the CPS deems it appropriate, prosecutions where there is evidence the law has been broken. The 1,400 girls and young women victimised by the paedophile gang deserve nothing less, as do children everywhere at risk because of lackadaisical institutions. The last thing needed is political point scoring. That is exactly how not to write about child sex crimes.

This is why I'm going to pick on Louise Mensch. From the salubrious surrounds of her upper westside apartment, last night our failed Tory MP-turned Murdoch shill proclaimed in a series of tweets everything that was wrong in Rotherham.

When a number of tweeters pointed out that by her logic the Tory party also has some very serious questions to answer about Jimmy Savile et al, the reply came:

If you're going to roll in muck, don't be shocked if you attract a few flies.

Mensch's line of argument has been picked up in the press today, and UKIP are running with it - as you might expect. After all, force a police and crime commissioner to step down and they have a reasonable chance of picking up the position and the patronage that comes with it. There are a couple of things worth noting with here. One is a shift in how social services work. As Paul from Though Cowards Flinch put it last night:

Paul is, of course, right. Social service departments across the land have been stripped of professional autonomy. The judgements of expert specialists have been trumped by a tier of local authority managers for whom their real concerns are the bottom line and career advancement. It's not just social services or councils. Teaching, nursing, social security, everywhere you look the public service ethos is being stripped out in favour of arbitrary targets, be they assessment scores, turn around times, or semi-official application caps. Against the backdrop of such a culture the needs are service users come second and perverse priorities - such as not being seen to be racist, as per Rotherham - come to the fore. As the crucible of this horrifying case things at the local authority and the police need looking at very carefully. But this is not enough: nothing less than a public inquiry and consultation into the prevailing culture of how our services are run is sufficient.

On the transparent attempt to damage Labour nationally by making out the local party in Rotherham was up to its neck in paedophiles, it is worth remembering that political parties do not run local authorities. They do not make day-to-day operational decisions or manage staff. Their job is to set the strategic priorities of a council, provide political direction, hold the officers (i.e. senior management) to account, and ensure the casework brought to their attention by residents is done. During my time scrutinising a local authority up-close, I lost count of the times senior officers circumvented elected member decision-making, and manipulated it by misrepresenting facts, telling porkies or failing to pass information on to the councillor nominally overseeing their area of work. Thankfully, none of these matters were especially serious in the grand scheme of things. Therefore what was the political culture like in Rotherham? Did senior officers inform the politicians that a sex abuse epidemic was happening in the town? I don't know, that is something to be established. If that was not passed on then appropriate action must be taken against officers who so acted.

Likewise, if any Labour councillors were aware of what happened and turned a blind eye, or took part in a cover up, then they should be prosecuted under the law. It really is that simple.


Jim Jepps said...

"When a number of tweeters pointed out that by her logic the Tory party also has some very serious questions to answer about Jimmy Savile et al"

This comment got me thinking. Lots of people *do* make the connection between Saville and the Tory Party (and Royal family), because there was one.

If it's right to do it one way then why not the other. I don't think we've seen any connection made between Saville's offenses and the Tory Party (although many assume there is one), can we show those connections between the party hierarchy and specific offenders in these cases?

In both cases I suspect it is entirely unhelpful to turn these extraordinarily serious offenses into a party political point scoring exercise when we actually need offenders brought to justice and any institutional corruption ended - that's in everyone's best interest.

Gary Elsby said...

Just when Phil hammers me over 'common purpose', Rotherham drops by.
Don't worry Phil, the legs on this story will run all the way to Stoke.

Phil said...

I completely agree, Jim. It only becomes a party political issue if a party in question learned about abuse carried out by a member and/or grandee of some kind or another and moved to cover it up. While there are questions of judgement regarding Savile that the likes of Edwina Currie has to answer for, unless senior members acted to cover up Savile's crimes the connection is indirect and tenuous. However, we do know that Tory MPs "in difficulties with boys" were made known to the chief whip and Thatcher and nothing was done. That's a party political matter.

Phil said...

If you have knowledge about anything like this happening in Stoke Gary, you should go to the police. Otherwise you are part of the sick, rotten culture culpable for the horrifying goings on up north.

If you don't, I'll put it down as yet another fevered Elsby muttering. Albeit one trying to use abused kids to score points.

Paul said...


You suggest a 'sex abuse epidemic' has taken/is taking place in Rotherham. 'Epdemic' as a term suggests that the incidence of sex ause far outstrips norms and is much greater than in other areas of the country.

In fact Alexis Jay says: "there was no standardised reporting of child sexual exploitation that would allow reliable judgements about whether child sexual exploitation was more or less prevalent in Rotherham than in other parts of the country".

In time it will almost certainly turn out that other areas have a greater per head incidence of CSE, and it may well be that Rotherham comes to be seen by the expert elite in relatively favourable terms because at leasth the scale of the problem was acknowledged, whereas in other areas there continues to be remarkable ignorance of what's going on.

And that's even before the reporting about intra-child CSE starts up, which will in many ways be more even horrifying, because it's children committing heinous criminal acts against their peers in the genuine and well-founded believe that this is the accepted norm.

Louise Mensch. What a pillock.

Anonymous said...

so what are the chances that the social workers themselves and the union that represents them will mount a campaign against the kind of 'managerial revolution' that has so thoroughly destroyed what their work should be about? (sorry, phil, but since you've already associated me with the league of elderly trotskyists, i figure i may as well use the appropriate vocabulary) i know that calling for greater professional autonomy in the social services is tantamount in this day and age to raising the banner for worker control and self-management, but it seems to me, unless you begin to move in that direction, this same scenario will play itself out over and over again.


Chris said...

I live and work in Rotherham (for the council), in the very building where the cameras have been all day and outside it a small EDL protest was going on.

The rise in managerialism would be an interesting and pertinent point if it were not being made by a New Labour member, the very party that put that culture into the council!

But I don't think we should put all the blame on the managers actually, I think staff were in awe of these managers and those lower down should be expected to take responsibility.

I agree with an independent enquiry, but one that investigates every level of the hierarchy.

I firmly believe that the existence of the hierarchy played a part in the failures - from an institutional point of view.

The actual facts of the matter are a little more complex and the council were in a difficult position.

the point of an enquiry should be to improve procedures and make recommendations that can be applied to all councils.

I also think we should bear in kind that the vast majority of these kids were from poor and marginalised backgrounds. The sort of people who on a normal day the odious Louise Mensch would be calling welfare cheats, scroungers and good for nothings who we should go to war against. This makes her comments all the more sickening.

And of course the austerity measures she champions with such enthusiasm will drive more people into the position where the sexual predator appears to be the best available option.

Chris said...

"When we all know that in truth although the Pakistani community predominates the common factor across the UK (and in court) is Islamic culture."

This is wrong on all levels. We also have other scandals in the pipeline (Jersey care home scandal for example) which could implicate many white people. And child sex abuse is part of Western culture, not imported from outside. We should also bear in mind that though the cases are horrific they still represent a very tiny minority of people in whatever community you want to pretend they represent.

I very much doubt the public sector 'establishment' would have seen these girls as Chavs, in fact I think the lower down the hierarchy you go the more likely these girls would have been viewed as Chavs. The establishment tend to be your liberal wet types (I work with them!), who see victims everywhere, just ready to be saved!

What the attitude of the police was I cannot say.

I also think more people will be born into poverty, as the explosion of food banks show and this will only make it harder for the council, who while their budgets shrink, see the number of people requiring help explode.

I think people like speedy are reckless and dangerous people. Maybe his culture is to blame?

Gary Elsby said...

Hello, why is Phil hammering me?

I mentioned 'common purpose' in Rotherham because that is the story not being told.
They are all 'common purpose', but hey, us scare story pundits get it all wrong all the time and all connections are just 'coincidence'.

As for Stoke-on-Trent and the (forthcoming) National sex-scandal, perhaps Phil should google Peter Righton.

or for a bit of fun, Mr&Mrs Dromey and Mrs Hewitt, Labour, Labour and yes, we've all guessed it, Labour.

Speedy said...

"I think people like speedy are reckless and dangerous people."

Chris, I'm not the one working at a council that condemned AT LEAST 1400 underage girls to violent rape and still, if your opinion is anything to go by, is in utter denial about it.

The interesting thing is your attitude is a perfect illustration why folk didn't speak up or were ignored. Imagine coming to someone like you with concerns - you'd send them on a racial sensitivity course, if they were lucky.

You and your ilk are the very definition of recklessness, and vulnerable people pay for it with their lives. Your immovable ideological blinkers help explain why terrible things have happened throughout history in the name of politics or religion.

Gary Elsby said...

Dousing girls in petrol for refusing a gang bang under the threat of Mum being raped instead.

I fear for what is about to happen.

Phil said...

Chris, I know this will come as a shock to you but New Labour is dead. I suggest you move on.

But on your point, no, "the left" is not responsible for what happened in Rotherham. If employees at the council but "political correctness" before taking abuse claims seriously, then the fault lies entirely with them and their skewed priorities. As the report shows, however, the biggest factor was misogyny - misogyny among the abusers, for whom white girls were little better than trash to be used and abused, among the police who turned a blind eye to it, and among those social care professionals for whom the girls' claims fell on their deaf ears.

Race is one element, as the report states. But it's hatred of women that's the main culprit.

Speedy said...

Of course it is easy saying the "left" is not to "blame" for his incident - technically, that is correct. It is not to blame alone.

As a sociologist first, and ideologue second Phil, I'm sure you can see that this is the result of complex interactions including:

- Pakistani culture (an extension of Islamic culture, albeit with its own peculiarities)
- Relative "permissiveness" within white British culture.
- Opportunity.
- A reluctance to confront abuse by the powers that be, subject to an abiding public sector ethos that placed community cohesion first and were over-sensitive (at the very least) to racism and "Islamophobia", this a dogma very much the product of the Left's "revolution through the organs" which has been taking place ever since the days of Thatch, probably in response to all those years in the wilderness.

Take out any one of these elements and there would not be a problem.

The one element I have not mentioned is Rotherham - because it does not exist as a determining factor.

As you know very well this has happened/ is happening throughout the UK and the true extent is many times greater.

Even if it is "reckless" and "dangerous" to say so, ho ho.

Chris said...

New Labour is very much alive actually. It is now that ingrained that you can't actually see it under your own nose.

But other than that I don't disagree with the other parts of your comment. I just hope that the report doesn't simply blame higher management decisions but actually looks to see what went wrong at all levels. And it goes without saying that the problems go well beyond council failings.

It is racist to claim this is a problem with Islamic culture for a number of reasons, 2 being:

1) No one actually knows the religious beliefs of the individuals involved.

2) If white people engage in sexual abuse this is seen as a failure of the individual, as being the problem with 'evil' people. I never see secular Western society being brought into question when white people abuse kids or when Westerners go to the far East to have sex with under age girls. And the stats show 80% of pedophiles are white! But when a Muslim steps out of line then that equates to a whole failure of the entire cultural history of Muslims and Islam.

speedy is nothing but a far right opportunist.

I have had such such far right opportunists camping outside the place I work for the past week now. Not a pretty sight!

To end I couldn't resist this from the Fuller interview:

"Defeating religiously inspired terrorism"

Note here how he doesn't want to defeat terrorism just religiously inspired terrorism! How convenient!

Speedy said...

Chris, is Anne Cryer a far right opportunist too?

You plainly take a page out of KL's rule book. However it is disingenuous to say this is about paedophlia. This is about attitudes to women in general and non-Muslim women in particular.

Anyway, you can lead a horse to water...

You remind me of that character in Milan Kundera's debut novel The Joke. The one that reports her boyfriend for making a joke about Stalin. Cut from the same cloth.

God help all those vulnerable girls with a council packed with hive minds like yours. If anyone wants to know how this could happen, and will continue to happen regardless of this scandal, one need look no further.

Chris said...

No, but I am not judging you simply on the back of this story speedy. I actually came to the conclusion your were on the far right before this story broke.

For far rightists like speedy, every time a Muslim steps out of line this is to be blamed on the entire culture, every member of that culture is to be put under the spotlight. can they be trusted, look at their culture, look what it makes them do. We need to fear these people.

On the other hand if a white person steps out of line, this is a failure of the evil individual and in no way a reflection on the culture from which this person sprang. We can all sleep easy in our beds knowing we are not tainted with the failings of our culture. No need to fear us, we can be trusted, rest assured.

You remind me of one of those camp guards in the 1940's.

I guess all those young girls and boys raped by white people have you to thank.

But I think your far right mentality is even more poisonous than that. It revels in spreading ignorance and stupidity, with all the negative affects that has on society.

Personally I suspect those in the council who were worried about racism, if any were, were probably worried about giving ammunition to fascists such as yourself. So in a roundabout way your far right idiocy wcould have been a reason for suppressing any information (if that did happen). And given the history of people on the far right like you, can you blame them.

I mean on one the flags by the EDL who are camped outside our building, it says Muslims are child abusers. Such spectacular levels of idiocy are probably saying it like it is in your mad little far right world.

Speedy said...

Thanks for the insight Chris. I think other readers (of which there must only be Phil at this point) can draw their own opinions about my politics, but it helps explain the psychology that led to this cover up.

It is not about the facts it is about who states them. Fear of the right wing bogeyman (in this case a dozen cretins outside the town hall) outweighs the reality of multiple rape. And so the working class is sacrificed on the altar of discredited libreralism.


Chris said...

“This is about attitudes to women in general and non-Muslim women in particular. “

I would also like to point out that the word chav sprang from ‘British’ culture as speedy would understand British culture. The word chav shows a derogatory attitude to women, but notice how speedy never makes the culture connection between white British people and abhorrent acts, even though he gives us an example of a popular derogatory term used to describe women that sprung from ‘British’ culture.

But Muslims have a culture problem, Muslims should be feared. Every Muslim needs monitoring as they could all be potential deviants, deviants created by their bad culture. Not monitoring them makes us complicit when they act bad.

White people are never lumped into a culture; we are all individuals, not a mass that can be lumped together.

ergo speedy = racist.

Speedy said...

I think you're going off on a bit of a fantasy here Chris, as anyone can see. I don;t think you understand that when you call me "racist" based on this nonsense you continue to illustrate the source of the problem.

I was only kidding about racial sensitivity courses earlier, but reading the paper this morning turns out it is beyond parody...

The Home Office researcher, who was not named by Panorama, also said she had been accused of being insensitive when she told one official that most of the perpetrators were from Rotherham's Pakistani community.

A female colleague talked to her about the incident. "She said you must never refer to that again – you must never refer to Asian men.

"And her other response was to book me on a two-day ethnicity and diversity course to raise my awareness of ethnic issues."

Chris said...

I support a full inquiry and a proper criminal investigation, this will help determine what happened. I am not a fan of the investigative standards of Panorama personally.

I did notice that one of the victims mothers said,

"This is not about race it is about individual adults abusing individual children'

I guess until someone provides the number of perpetrators of these crimes along with that figure as a % of the total Pakistani population then we can't draw the conclusion that the problem is cultural? If, say, less than 1% of the Pakistani male population of Rotherham were involved in these crimes how can 1% translate into a problem of culture?

And would this ever be applied to white people? Absolutely not.

ergo racism.

But if you think there is a problem with Muslim culture which leads to child abuse, as you have claimed and you believe those that don't recognise this are to blame for the abuse (which you said of me) then you should provide stats to back up your claim and we should draw the conclusion that you want to deal with the cultural problem.

And we already have some unpleasant historical precedents of far right racists dealing with cultural problems.

Who next, the Gypsies?