Rotherham Borough Council, a Labour-controlled local authority in South Yorkshire (inthe north of England), has been attacked for controversially removing three children from their foster parents on the grounds that the couple are members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP). The move, which was made after council staff received an anonymous tip off after the placement was made, on the grounds that UKIP is a supposedly racist organisation, has attracted near-universal condemnation, including from the Conservative Education Secretary, Michael Gove, and the leader of the Labour Party at national level, Ed Miliband. Even the Prime Minister, whose party’s electoral prospects are being severely damages by the splitting of the right-wing vote that UKIP is causing, conceded that he “no longer believes” that UKIP is a group of “closet racists” as he claimed in 2006.
Social workers are alleged to have claimed that because UKIP advocates (and this can be easily found on their website) “end[ing] the active promotion of the doctrine of multiculturalism by local and national government and all publicly funded bodies” which was deemed to be inappropriate for carers of children who are of “European” ethnicity. The major error that Rotherham has made is to mistake the rejection of multiculturalism for outright racism. The United States has an immigration system which is not racist but expects immigrants to identify as Americans, and Americans only. Whatever one thinks about this form of monoculturism, it cannot be construed as racist.
That said, it seems puzzling that supporters of an organisation that rejects multiculturalism would want to be part of a multicultural family. When placing vulnerable children in the care of adults, it is essential to ensure that the children will be provided with an environment which allows them to develop their own identity without ideological interference- so adults who support racism on the grounds of gender, race or sexuality are not appropriate foster parents. It should be emphasised at this point that few continue to deem UKIP to be a racist political movement, and so Rotherham were wholly unjustified in taking the action that it did.
However, concerns were raised when, under intense national pressure, the leader of Rotherham Council said “We are going to investigate – we always would if somebody complains. We are looking to make sure all the correct procedures were carried out before the decision was made. There is no policy, as has been implied, that if you are a British National Party member you can’t foster children.” The British National Party (BNP) is a racist and indeed a fascist organisation, and allowing members to act as foster parents would be a questionable action, to say the least.
The BNP policy platform includes “reaching an accord with the Muslim world whereby they will agree to take back their excess population which is currently colonising this country”. Should children in care be surrounded by adults who are advocating the mandatory expulsion of people from the country on religious grounds? A policy blocking racists from adopting children of any ethnicity would be a wise policy, not an act of political discrimination.
So yes, Rotherham Borough Council’s actions were unacceptable. It is nevertheless crucial that councils err on the side of caution when they are dealing with children in care, and they must therefore not allow this case to frighten them off from protecting children from bigots. UKIP is undoubtedly viewing this as a publicity boon, and will use it to present Labour as ruthless in its persecution of a legitimate stratum of British political opinion. Genuine bigots would not be able to benefit from such public support.
BY: Jack Darrant