Let’s start with a riddle. If South Yorkshire Police can mount a raid on Sir Cliff Richard’s home in pursuit of evidence linked to a single allegation of child sex abuse 30 years ago, why were South Yorkshire Police incapable of pursuing multiple allegations against multiple men who raped 1,400 children over 16 years?
One thousand four hundred. Consider the weight of that number, feel its tragic heft. Picture 50 junior-school classes of little girls in Rotherham, once a respectable northern town, now a byword for depravity. We have seen child-grooming cases before, but the disgusting stories revealed in the report by Professor Alexis Jay amount to evidence of abuse on an industrial scale.Men of Pakistani heritage treated white girls like toilet paper. They picked children up from schools and care homes and trafficked them across northern cities for other men to join in the fun. They doused a 15-year-old in petrol and threatened to set her alight should she dare to report them. They menaced entire families and made young girls watch as they raped other children.One 11-year-old known as Child H told police that she and another girl had been sexually assaulted by grown men. Nothing was done. When she was 12, Child H was found in the back of a taxi with a man who had indecent pictures of her on his phone. Despite the full co-operation of her father, who insisted his daughter was being abused, police failed to act. Four months later, Child H was found in a house alone with a group of Pakistani men. What did the police do? They arrested the child for being drunk and disorderly and ignored her abusers. As President Obama said about the fiends who beheaded the journalist James Foley: “No just God would stand for what they did.”
My, what the British people would give to hear such ringing moral condemnation from our own political leaders.
The Labour Party, in particular, is mired in shame over “cultural sensitivity” in Rotherham. Especially, cynics might point out, a sensitivity to the culture of Muslims whose votes they don’t want to lose. Denis MacShane, MP for Rotherham from 1994 to 2012, actually admitted to the BBC’s World At One that “there was a culture of not wanting to rock the multicultural community boat, if I may put it like that. Perhaps, yes, as a true Guardian reader and liberal Leftie, I suppose I didn’t want to raise that too hard.” Much better to hang on to your impeccable liberal credentials than save a few girls from being raped, eh, Denis?
Equally horrifying is the suggestion that certain Pakistani councillors asked social workers to reveal the addresses of the shelters where some of the abused girls were hiding. The former deputy leader of the council, Jahangir Akhtar, is accused of “ignoring a politically inconvenient truth” by insisting there was not a deep-rooted problem of Pakistani-heritage perpetrators targeting young white girls. The inquiry was told that influential Pakistani councillors acted as “barriers to communication” on grooming issues.
Front-line youth workers who submitted reports in 2002, 2003 and 2006 expressing their alarm at the scale of the child sex-offending say the town hall told them to keep quiet about the ethnicity of the perpetrators in the interests of “community cohesion”.
Fear of appearing racist trumped fears of more children being abused. Not only were negligent officials not prosecuted, they prospered. Shaun Wright, a former Labour councillor who was in charge of Rotherham children’s services during a five-year period when a blind eye was turned to the worst case of mass child abuse in British history, is now South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner. Oh, Jonathan Swift, thou shouldst be writing at this hour!
Jane Collins, the Ukip MEP for Yorkshire and Humber, has called for Mr Wright to stand down, a demand that has been echoed by Labour as it realises the full horror of what was done – or not done – by its councillors. “To cover up something of this scale, it is evil,” says Mrs Collins.
It’s impossible not to share that incredulous fury. Powerless white working-class girls were caught between a hateful, imported culture of vicious misogyny on the one hand, and on the other a culture of chauvinism among the police, who regarded them as worthless slags. Officials trained up in diversity and political correctness failed to acknowledge what was effectively white slavery on their doorstep. Much too embarrassing to concede that it wasn’t white people who were committing racist hate crimes in this instance.
The whole thing is like a real-life episode of Prime Suspect, in which councillors, the police and child-protection staff collude to give a bunch of sadistic thugs licence to pimp a town’s most vulnerable children. As they say in Yorkshire: “They want shooting, the lot of them.”
This will come as no comfort to the 1,400 brutalised girls, many of whom have self-harmed or committed suicide, but I reckon Rotherham may be the final nail in the coffin of multiculturalism. Far from discouraging racism, the Labour policy of withholding the ethnic identity of men who preyed on white girls backfired spectacularly. Criminally, it endangered hundreds of children who might otherwise have been spared. A recent poll showed that 44 per cent of young Britons believe that Muslims do not share the same values as the rest of the population, while 28 per cent said they felt Britain would be “better off” with fewer Muslims.
Attitudes are even more negative among older people. A recent Radio 4 item about how junior jihadists spending their gap year massacring people in Iraq could be “reintegrated” into British society produced hoots of derision on social media and spilt tea across the breakfast tables of England. (Hands up anyone who wants the blighters back?) The period of giving the benefit of the doubt to young Muslims who go on “camping holidays” to Syria is over. Undoubtedly, the fact that “Jihadi John”, the hooded man who was party to the beheading of James Foley, spoke with a London accent has provoked further despair about the widespread failure of Muslims to integrate. Has it really come to this? A child raised with all the freedoms and blessings of a British upbringing behaving like a natural-born barbarian.
My colleague Boris Johnson’s excellent suggestion that any Britons who travel to Syria and Iraq without informing the authorities should be presumed to be potential terrorists until proven innocent produced howls of outrage from the human rights brigade – but it struck an entire symphony of chords with Britons of all creeds and colours who are sick of being taken for mugs.
There are other hopeful signs. The Rotherham scandal seems temporarily to have silenced those who insist, every time a child-grooming case is exposed, that most paedophiles are white. Indeed they are; but the Rotherham abusers were not paedophiles. They were men of Pakistani heritage slaking their lust on young girls they regarded as white trash because they knew they could get away with it. It grieves me to say they were right. Like South Yorkshire Police, they treated 1,400 defenceless children “with contempt”.
On Channel 4 News on Tuesday, Javed Khan, the chief executive of Barnardo’s, refused to give a straight answer to a question about the part that “ethnicity” played in the abuse of girls in Rotherham. As the presenter Jackie Long persisted, Mr Khan insisted that we should not be focusing on the identity of the perpetrators because it “distracted attention” from the children who were their victims.
On the contrary. It is of the utmost importance that wider society wakes up to the fact that there is what the inquiry found to be a “deep-rooted problem of Pakistani-heritage perpetrators targeting young white girls”. Many of us who have been saying this for a long time have been shouted down as racist. Thanks to Prof Jay, it has been stated publicly for the first time that the fear of appearing racist was more pressing in official minds than enforcing the law of the land or rescuing terrified children. It is one of the great scandals of our lifetime.
The Labour council of Rotherham stands accused of ignoring child sex abuse on an unimaginable scale for 16 years. There can be no more serious charge against a public body. Former councillors who dismissed evidence or otherwise attempted to pervert the course of justice should be arrested. Officers who snubbed appeals from desperate children and their families have no place in our police force.
Thus far, a mere five men have been jailed in connection with the disgusting crimes in Rotherham. A further 30 are under investigation. We need a campaign to get other abused children to come forward and receive the appropriate help. We need them to identify the perpetrators. Shame and name, and shame again. Above all, we need those girls to know that what was done to them was criminal, and the way those crimes were ignored and suppressed by powerful men with a political agenda was despicable as well as criminal. To avoid rocking the multicultural boat, they fed 1,400 children to the sharks.