The stunning decision by Rotherham Council to remove three children from a foster home (where they were happy) because the foster parents support UKIP shows that the “culture war” here in Britain is being waged not by the Right, but by the Left.
Joyce Thacker (above), the council’s director of children, who said her decision was influenced by UKIP’s sceptical take on multiculturalism, is the mirror image of those mad American right-wingers who want to outlaw abortion clinics and homosexuals. Unlike them, though, she is in a position of power. Hers is the latest in a series of increasingly chilling actions of this nature taken by bien-pensant officials.
Last week, Adrian Smith, a Christian, won a High Court appeal against his demotion by Trafford Housing Trust for expressing opposition on his private Facebook page to gay marriage in church. (Even most liberals do not believe that churches should be forced to conduct gay marriages on their premises!) Somebody else was convicted of racially abusing her neighbour by calling her a “stupid fat Australian.” The week before, a bus driver won a court case against his sacking for being a member of the BNP – even though he had never acted in a racist way at work, no-one had ever complained and he was considered a “first-class employee.”
The special interest of the Rotherham case – and no doubt why Ed Miliband was so quick to condemn it – is that in five days’ time the town has a parliamentary by-election. Labour is already in a bit of trouble here – about 80 of the 114 members present at the meeting to select its candidate walked out in protest after the favourite, local man Mahroof Hussain, was excluded from the shortlist. Many of them said they wouldn’t campaign for the woman Labour chose, Sarah Champion.
UKIP only got 6 per cent of the vote in Rotherham at the general election – but they came second in another byelection in next-door Barnsley last year. Like many working-class Labour areas, Rotherham showed an undercurrent of disaffection with the party, even before its MP was forced to resign for fraud. In the general election, the total broadly “Right-wing” vote in Rotherham (Tories, UKIP, BNP and an anti-Labour independent) added up to 39.3 per cent, only 5.3 per cent behind the Labour vote.
In a low-turnout by-election with big protest vote potential, the fostering decision by a Labour council could just be the kind of issue UKIP might use to pull off an upset. It’s still much more likely that Labour will win, of course. UKIP is notoriously crap at the ground game of fighting elections. But if I was them, I’d pile everything I have, and more, into Rotherham.