Rotherham – the question that dare not be asked

Prof Alexis Jay

Prof Alexis Jay

The news that at least 1,400 children were sexually abused over a sixteen-year period in Rotherham and that those who should have pursued and prevented the abusers instead turned a blind eye is as baffling as it is appalling.  Or is it?

In her report, Professor Alexis Jay makes it clear that police and social care senior management turned a blind eye to regular complaints and pleas for help because of a fear that identifying the abusers as mainly Asian men and the victims as mainly white young women would have provoked accusations of racial prejudice.

The question that needs to be asked is “what would have happened in Rotherham if the abusers had been a gang of villainous white men and the victims had been young Asian girls?”  I think we all know the answer.  The police and social services would have descended on the abusers like a ton of bricks.  There would have been no place to hide and they would have been brought to justice in the twinkling of an eye and in a blaze of righteous publicity.

We have allowed political correctness to invade every strand of public service and it has been busy driving out common sense.  If you were a police inspector or a social worker, faced with a tearful, frightened and bruised young woman who spoke of brutal and inhuman treatment would not your first reaction be: this is terrible; this might have been my child or my sister?  It certainly should have been.  However, when the abused child describes her abuser as being “Asian”, it seems the authorities developed paroxysms of fear lest news should leak out and the Asian community should be offended. Thus, the result seems to have been to brush the whole thing under the carpet and to hope it would go away.  Rotherham is not unique and my own council saw a similar but, thankfully, smaller instance of abuse that was finally brought to criminal proceedings but only after an inordinately long time.

Political correctness, when embedded in a public body’s practices can be a pernicious evil because it brooks no opposition; it disallows the application of commons sense and reason.  Public servants are literally brain washed into the importance of equality, equal opportunities, gender neutrality and other, equally murky areas like climate change, sustainable energy and carbon reduction.  All are civilised and civilising tenets but not when applied blindly and so as to drive out common sense and common humanity.

The immediate issue of ignoring horrific abuse because of a fear of upsetting an ethnic community has to be embraced and dealt with.  For the longer term, the supremacy of politically correct doctrines over the application of good old fashioned common sense needs to be addressed.

About Keith R Mitchell CBE

Qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1967. Pursued a successful career in financial training and publishing until selling his interests in 1990. Elected a County Councillor for the Bloxham Division in 1989. Leader of Oxfordshire County Council 5 November 2001 to 15 May 2012. Chairman of the South East England Regional Planning Committee July 2002 to July 2005. Chairman of the South East England Regional Assembly July 2005 to July 2008. In HM the Queen’s 2007 Birthday Honours, appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in recognition of services to local government.
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