Saturday 7 February 2015

If it quacks like a duck...

Singing from the same hymn sheet
Were I to construct a policy to tackle the epidemic of sexual exploitation, I would start with addressing the public sector complaints system, and the oversight mechanisms. I would give the Local Government Ombudsman teeth, the with ability to make binding judgements. Secondly, I would break up the police authorities to match council districts in size, then break up councils at least into three parts. As they stand councils and police are simply not local entities. Whatever economies of scale they achieve by centralisation is undone by the bureaucratisation and ossification.

I would convert police commissioners into offices solely for dealing with complaints, which may already be happening - and I would also make malfeasance in public office a criminal offence with jail + fiscal liability for council CEOs, section heads and councillors. I would also end the revolving door CEOcracy and force every council to put their remuneration to local referendums, along with council budgets. I would also take a long hard look at the welfare policy that produces an unending supply of young girls whose parents evidently don't give a toss where they are at night.

The reason I'd start there is because much of what we see from the Rotherham report bears a distinct resemblance to many other well known scandals as well as some of the more persistent ones that bubble under the surface. What we saw in Rotherham was a refusal to follow up on findings, not because of political correctness, but because of face-saving. If the council on this or any issue acknowledges fault in any particular regard it must also accept responsibility for all cases leading up to the discovery. Political correctness is convenient scapegoat this time, but take it out of the equation and councils are still grubby little fiefdoms with very little interest in representing the people.

I can think of several key reforms that need to happen which would require a revolution in local governance and that's before one even begins to ponder matters of race and culture. As EUreferendum notes, underage exploitation is not something the Pakistani criminal fraternity has any monopoly on. I am of the view that even if every Pakistani were deported, as some would prefer, somebody would be still supplying the demand. If it's happening, it's because our police are failing.

But then the hyperventilation doesn't really paint an accurate picture. Some want a simple narrative that "muzzer pedo gangs" stalk South Yorkshire preying on children. But these girls in the main are not prepubescent so is not paedophilia in the true sense of the word, and while 1400 sounds a lot, over sixteen years, that's an average of three a week - which makes it just part of the fabric of a dilapidated post-industrial Northern town. It's not as open and brazen as some believe it is and also quite difficult to detect without good informants and long term surveillance work. It is for that reason alone that councils do need to show the necessary sensitivity.

I would go as far as saying very little is actually served by examining the Pakistani cultural aspect. It helps to understand the background but ultimately the failure is ours for failing to protect young girls - and that vulnerability has been exploited. What is absolutely unforgivable is the scramble to exploit the situation for political advantage. It is not because of multiculturalism that our police and social services are dysfunctional, and Farage making a pilgrimage to Rotherham to preach his message in areas where the BNP does well tells you Ukip is seeking to steal their clothes - because there might be an MP in it if he plays his cards right.

In light of this we must ask if Ukip is now the new BNP. That is certainly the direction of travel. If you monitor the sentiment in the comments of The Commentator and Breitbart, and you were paying any special attention to British politics in 2008, you could be forgiven for thinking you were dealing with the same party. Their schtick is the same.

Back in April 2014, often quoted Robert Ford and Matthew Goodwin asserted that 'Both Ukip and the BNP have drawn their strongest support from the left behind in Britain: older, white working class voters who have few or no educational qualifications." Both groups share the same concerns, are disaffected by politics and anxious about immigration, but there the similarities end.

Back then I would have broadly agreed, and thought the likes of Hope Not Hate were barking up the wrong tree. But things change. The recent ugly anti-Islam rhetoric seen on Twitter feeds and in comments from known Ukipists is very much the same song we have heard from the BNP. The suspicious and paranoid behaviour of their activists also has a ring of familiarity. The appeals to populism and the need to paint Labour as "abuse-enabling" Marxists seeking to destroy White British culture is a classic BNP riff. Ukip knows this, but instead of subordinating BNP rehtoric, Ukip has wholly embraced it.

Ukip's uber-socialist health policy and nationalistic notions about military policy (flags, gongs and medals etc) is all quasi-fascist stuff if viewed in the wider context. The UAF and anti-fascist groups certainly get a strong whiff of far-right off Ukip these days - and so do I. The rhetoric about multiculturalism is now just a smokescreen that masks what is essentially race rate. I think the average Ukipist would struggle to define it, let alone prove it exists to any great extent.

It looks like Ukip has invited a cancer to spread within its ranks and allowed it to spread unchallenged. Because of its failure to lead with a credible message, the overall vibe from the party is not one dictated by the party but by its most active and most obnoxious, who are as anti-intellectual as much as they are anti-everything. It might not actually be the BNP with a new logo, but it certainly looks like the shape of things to come.

Certainly I don't recognise any libertarian aspect in that party, nor do I see any ambitious ideas, leadership or any liberal internationalism. Rather than building a movement, it is parasiting off resentment and fanning those flames, - and those who still believe Ukip is what it once was are slowly turning into ogres as they try to deny what their party has become. You can tell a lot about a party in how it reacts to criticism.

I ought not to care since Ukip was way beyond salvation a long time ago, but Ukip was warned about this direction of travel and that a new breed of "cyber-nat" would poison the well of euroscepticism.  It looks like that is another prediction holding true. And while Ford and Goodwin cling to their settled narratives, they have failed to to understand the nature of Ukip and just how far Farage's ego will take him. What was true a year ago was falling out of synch with reality even then, and now these two celebrated intellects appear to have dropped the ball completely. It may just be a tale of two Ukips, but I really don't like the one that's presently winning.

If in the wake of Rotherham we saw Ukip seize the opportunity to launch a policy of serious local government and police reform, we would know it was a serious party with serious ideas and a comprehension that deserves our attention. Stampeding in with bluster about multiculturalism whenever Muslims are vaguely involved tells us it's an opportunistic cult, motivated by a lust for publicity. It is an ugly thing to behold and I'm deeply saddened to see so many once decent people get suckered in by it. People I thought were smart enough to know better.

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