The Rotherham child sex scandal is an appalling and a shocking indictment in the way we have, as a country, allowed local bureaucrats, the police, national politicians, the trendy-wendy media and a host of vested interests to hijack and reorientate the national moral compass. All of them now have some serious soul searching to confront. One is left with an over reaching sense of despair for the future when we ask how we can possibly dig ourselves out of this hole of our own making. Rotherham represents an abject and damming failure of society across the board to protect our young which condemns us in the face of evil that doesn’t stop at one religious, ethnic age group or another. We see examples of cruelty and abuse across the country and trafficking for example, which has only latterly been getting some airtime on a national level, but which has been going on for years, is but one manifestation of such evil.
As we might expect, emotions are running high and central government is no doubt wheeling in the focus groups to help them decide what to do. I’m going to help move along the process.
At an absolute minimum, central government must move in and take over the running of Rotherham with immediate effect. Local democracy has failed and confidence must be quickly restored by installing the best available civic administrators from wherever they currently are. Similarly, South Yorkshire police must be placed under special measures, special management, call it what you like. The institutional failure to investigate, report and prosecute is going to end careers, rather a lot of them and the quicker we get on with the deep cleansing the better. The lack of moral courage by responsible individuals to confront these crimes is in itself, a criminal act. The perpetrators of the crimes, all of them, must be clinically hunted down and brought to trial using as much local and national resource as is required. The victims must similarly, be offered every local and national resource available to allow them to rebuild as normal a life as is possible.
Sadly, this won’t be the end of it; it never is. More incidents are likely to come to light in more locations and with more examples of breathtaking incompetence and arrogance on both an individual and institutional level by those charged to protect the vulnerable.
The Muslim community in the northern towns where abuse took place also need to challenge their thinking and tolerance of those from within who have brought disgrace to their families. As my friend Ilyas Khan points out in his open letter below, such was the scale of abuse others in the community must have known but stayed silent. That must change. Read the letter, it is at the minimum a heartfelt call to reason.
For my own part, I watch the vacuum in national leadership in dismay. If 1400 damaged children can’t stir the Prime Minister and Cabinet into robust action without being told what to do by election consultants and media advisors then what hope is there? For what it’s worth, as an ex professional soldier I’ve always been against the reintroduction of national service. I’m beginning to think however, that 18 months to 2 years of mandatory service for 18-23 year olds is the only route left to begin to repair our increasingly fractured society by inculcating a common sense of values, purpose and community and bridging gaps in wealth, culture and religion. Is though, it already too late so to do?