by Rob Marchant
While Westminster’s attention is distracted by Scotland, it is gradually becoming abundantly clear that the grooming of young, white girls by Pakistani-heritage men goes way beyond Rotherham. Last week Uncut’s Kevin Meagher highlighted the next few likely police targets in Greater Manchester and this Left Foot Forward piece gives a first-hand account of grooming in a town in the South.
The true shock for many was not so much the crimes, horrific though they were. The true shock was the conspiracy of silence around them, both inside the Pakistani community and outside it.
And that is not, one likes to think, because we are intrinsically a nation of racists casting around for a reason to heap abuse on British Pakistanis among us, but mostly for the opposite reason: we didn’t want to believe that there could be a clear link between a particular culture and a particularly nasty crime.
There is a link, of course, but it is not a simplistic one: clearly a small number of Rotherham’s population have not become rapists because of the colour of their skin, or where they worship.
What, then, is that link and why should it be anything to do with Labour?
It’s an uncomfortable question, but it’s also one which we really need to ask.
For a long time, as we highlighted in Labour’s manifesto uncut (Chapter 2, section 2), Labour has had a cosy – too cosy – relationship with some ethnic communities around the country. Not all, but some. A few are Sikh. Most are Muslim, from Pakistan or Bangladesh.
And the deal goes like this: we will scratch your back, and you will scratch ours. We will support you and mute our criticism of the odd dodgy practice, and you will get out the vote in your communities and deliver it for our candidates. This is not particularly difficult when there often exist numerous members of a given extended family who will, either by habit or peer pressure, vote the same way.
A perfect example of this, as has been clocked before at Uncut, is the manipulation of membership lists during parliamentary selections, which has resulted in thirteen CLPs being put in “special measures”. It is admirable that something has been done in these thirteen; not so good that the approach to this ever-worsening problem is to contain it, rather than solve it.