Friday, 29 August 2014

Lowles edges closer to admitting HnH culpability in child grooming scandal

A revealing blog post by Hope not Hate director Nick Lowles has edged closer to admitting his
organisation's culpability in driving the culture of fear over being labelled a racist which helped sexual offenders hide their crimes.

In an article posted this afternoon (Friday) entitled 'Whose side are we on?', he argues that Hope not Hate activists should not oppose a march allegedly organised by the EDL to protest against child grooming, and goes on to explain how his own organisation's approach to past grooming scandals lead to the perpetrators of such crimes escaping justice.

"There will be some who will be tempted to organise a counter-protest, which will amount to little more than standing behind a line of police chanting 'Nazi scum off our street'.
While I understand the desire to show opposition to the EDL, I believe that this approach is futile and counter-productive.
In the autumn of 2012, an EDL demo against grooming attracted a coach load of people (mainly men) from the former pit village of Maltby. These people weren't fascists and most weren't racist; in fact many were decent union men who had stood loyally with their union during the year-long miners’ strike and, more recently, had even leafleted with us against the BNP.
What they were, however, was angry.
They were angry because some of their daughters had been sexually abused and they were angry because the Labour Party - for so long their party – had, at best, ignored the problem or, at worst, connived to keep it under wraps. The EDL, on the other hand, gave them an outlet for their anger.
But as they filed through Rotherham town centre that day they were genuinely horrified to be called racists and fascists by those protesting against the march and rather than dissuade them against joining up with the EDL this name-calling only pushed them closer into the pack."

Which is all very well, but fails to address the wider issue: that there are some crimes which have a cultural or ethnic bias, and yet the motivation behind organisations such as Hope not Hate and UAF is to ignore this in the broader interests suppressing opposition to multi-cultural harmony through fear. In fact, Lowles goes on to admit that the combined actions of his organisation, their trades union financers and the Labour Party prevented an earlier investigation of similar offences in Keighley and Bradford by dismissing the claims of victims as 'BNP propaganda':

"We found this out, to our cost, in Bradford and Keighley in 2004, when there was a consensus to dismiss BNP claims of grooming in Keighley as racist propaganda. The BNP won four council seats and just missed out in several more.
Grooming was occurring in Keighley and everyone there knew it. In fact, nine Muslim men were sent to prison and as many as 65 young girls were believed to have been abused."

To 'our' cost? It didn't cost the left anything - that price was paid not by Lowles and his fellow travellers, but by 65 young girls. We already know that Hope not Hate is far from being a grass-roots organisation, and has few if any feet on the ground in terms of genuine activists. But still, we find it amazing that none of their Labour Party or trades union supporters on the ground in Keighley thought it worth mentioning if 'everyone there knew it'. It demonstrates one of two things: either the distance between their supporters and the genuine working class which Labour used to pretend to represent is so vast that they genuinely weren't aware that this was going on, or more worryingly - not to mention cynically - they were perfectly well aware of it, but after it was raised as an issue by their political opponents there was a conscious decision to conceal its existence and to use their media muscle to shovel it all under the carpet simply to prevent the BNP from using it as an issue. We tend to agree here that the latter is more likely, and there is something deeply, deeply sinister about it if that is the case.

Part of the reason for this wilful ignorance - which Lowles describes as 'a consensus' - is the entire modus operandi of HnH - it doesn't matter how obvious a problem is, if their political enemies annunciate it then it must be rubbished. This is particularly true of any issues which touch on immigration: we need only look at their denial of recent crime figures which show the scale of Romanian organised crime in the capital and elsewhere. The problem for Lowles is that if they cease doing this, then what is the point of their organisation? This is something which Lowles acknowledges without providing any solutions when he says,

"We need to have something tangible and meaningful to say about Grooming; we need to be genuine in our condemnation of this evil and, fundamentally, we need to have some answers to prevent it happening again."

Quite what those answers would be is difficult to guess. The fundamental problem with this type of grooming is that it is committed by groups of men who are immigrants and who are Muslim. It would also appear to be relatively widespread, and to affect significant numbers of victims. The nature of such offences leads inevitably to wider questions about certain types of Islam, and immigration from certain countries. While Hope not Hate have been happy to pay lip service to supporting sexual equality and gay rights, they have always shied away from tackling the difficult questions that certain strains of Islam raise and which spring from fundamental cultural differences which are diametrically opposed to the values of a secular western democracy: homophobia, misogyny, vote rigging and electoral violence spring to mind. Far from having Lowles 'answers to prevent it happening again', Hope not Hate has so far offered a mechanism to ensure it is kept out of sight by condemning all who raise any of these issues as 'racist'. Does anybody outside of Lowles closed circle really believe that all of a sudden his organisation will welcome free and open debate on issues relating to race and religion, particularly Islam?

"The people of Rotherham have every right to be angry about what has happened but unless we intervene in a constructive way then we become complicit – through our actions or our silence – in pushing them into the hands of right wing groups"

The problem with Lowles self-righteous sentiments is that there are 1,400 young girls in Rotherham, 65 in Keighley and God only knows how many across the rest of the country who are already paying the price in suffering for his attempts to stifle genuine, legitimate concerns. Lowles has nothing constructive to say - if he did, he would have said it already. He is already complicit, because his organisation is largely responsible for the conspiracy of silence which has infected mainly Labour authorities and which was brought about by a fear of being labelled 'racist', something the left views as worse even than the rape of a child.

So how sorry is Lowles? Apart from his failure to openly acknowledge his own responsibility, there is also the lack of any concrete suggestions as to how to proceed. His caution against calling people who are genuinely concerned about the issue 'racists' and 'fascists' has all the hallmarks of a stopgap measure designed to last until the heat is off: after all, how will they campaign on behalf of Labour against UKIP if they can't return to the tried and trusted (if discredited) tactic of calling any mention of immigration, race, culture, ethnicity or religion as 'neo-nazism'. If he was serious in his intentions to deal with the issue, he'd forget the Labour antipathy towards Respect and sing from the rooftops the details of Imam Alyas Kharmani's 'Together Against Grooming' campaign, which is based in Bradford - precisely where Lowles let down 65 young girls in the interests of political gamesmanship. Instead, his silence about this excellent campaign demonstrates that his statement - apart from being an unintentional admission of culpability - is nothing more than cynical, self-serving temporising designed to ensure that Hope not Hate continues to be a hobby horse for his own ambitions.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Shaun Wright - Labour's gift to South Yorkshire

Shaun Wright - Labour's gift to the people of South Yorkshire
A statement issued last night by Shaun Wright declared that he had resigned: not as Police and Crime Commissioner for South Yorkshire, but as a member of the Labour Party which had selected him as somebody fit for high office. The Commissioner post is one he intends to hang onto come hell or high water, along with its £85k salary: he is Labour's gift to Rotherham, immovable for the remainder of the term to which he was elected to by about 7 in 100 of South Yorkshire's voters as none of the parties at Westminster have bothered to act on promises to enable voters to 'recall' elected officials.

The witless Wright has a habit of hanging on until the last minute. Although he did eventually resign as councillor responsible for children's services in Rotherham when, as he claims, the 'full scale of the problem came to light', this ignores the OFSTED report on his department, in which it achieved the worst possible score in December 2009 - a '1 - performs poorly'. To quote from the letter from OFSTED to Joyce Thacker, the strategic director for children and young people's services, Rotherham's serviced were "of sufficient concern that the safety of children cannot be assured". Despite have presided over this for 5 years, Wright saw no need to go then, clinging on until the full scale of what had been done to children came to light the next year. But what role did Wright play in this? The 2006 OFSTED inspection rated Rotherham's child services as 'Good', so the decline all happened under his watch.

A sign of the esteem in which Rotherham's voters hold Wright and his associates is what happened when he did finally stand down as a councillor on election as PCC. Parachuting his wife Lisa into his old ward of Rawmarsh, the Labour hierarchy expected another easy walkover. Instead, UKIP's Caven Vines took the seat with a majority of 104 despite a Hope not Hate inspired campaign to brand him 'racist' and a 'BNP supporter' on the most tenuous of evidence - he'd once sat on a local committee with a woman who subsequently became a BNP candidate. In this years local elections, UKIP held that seat, also winning the popular vote in Rotherham and taking 9 further seats from Labour, coming a close second to them in 11 others. UKIP won the popular vote with 46% vote share, compared to 43% for Labour. Readers may recall that the UKIP surge in Rotherham began after MP Denis MacShane was convicted of expenses fraud and stood down the day before he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment.

Will Wright eventually resign? It looks unlikely, despite his fingerprints being all over the failure of police and the local authority to deal with the issue. Not only was he the councillor responsible for children's services, he was also vice-president of the local police authority and a local magistrate to boot. Full details of Wright's many misdemeanours over the years can be found at the excellent 'Rotherham Politics' blog which lifts the lid on local Labour's apparent inability to effectively run a piss up in a brewery.

These failings are not minor, by the way. Labour cleared a councillor of wrong-doing despite his admitted role in returning one pregnant 14 year old girl to council care after it was alleged she had been abducted and repeatedly raped by his own relatives and that this was known by Social Services. Neither the council nor South Yorkshire Police felt there was 'sufficient evidence', although they did not bother to formally interview the journalist to whom the admission was made. Cllr Jahangir Akhtar finally stood down as deputy leader of Rotherham Council in August last year, before losing his seat to UKIP in last May's elections. He was previously convicted of affray, and the 'Rotherham politics' blog lists a selection of his official misdemeanours. It is believed that Akhtar is one of the Pakistani councillors referred to in the report who are believed to have deliberately obstructed inquiries into the abductions of teenage girls.

So what does it all mean for Rotherham? Most positively, it looks like at long last the issue will be taken seriously, now Labour have found it impossible to brush the issue under the carpet any longer. For Labour, it could be the death knell for their control of Rotherham: with their councillors heavily implicated of at best turning a blind eye towards child sexual abuse for fear of being called racist, they are likely to feel an even heavier backlash than they did in this year's elections.

And then there is the Shaun Wright effect. If he continues to hang on as PCC, it will not be forgotten that it was Labour who put him there, or that he along with his Labour colleagues on the council were responsible for turning a blind eye to child abuse in order to avoid causing offence to minorities. Under his watch as PCC, South Yorkshire police could gather 30 officers and a police helicopter to search Cliff Richard's house while investigating a 30 year old claim of inappropriate behaviour, but failed to even detect 1,400 rapes of children carried out by a significant number of local Pakistani men, including those related to the former deputy leader of the council.

Today's announcement by Tory MP Douglas Carswell makes Wright's position look even more cynical: Carswell, on switching to UKIP, also stood down as an MP and will fight a by-election to ensure he has the support of his constituents. Wright resigned from the Labour Party to avoid suspension and appears determined to keep his nose in the public trough for as long as possible while occupying a position which will assist him in minimising further investigation into Labour's (including his) role in the wider scandal.

Those who have seen Wright perform on camera speak of his wooden demeanour, his monotone delivery
and his general air of disinterest in the proceeding that surround him. Since being handed what 2 years ago was a sinecure - a Labour nomination in South Yorkshire - he has proved more than adept at demonstrating that for him, it is self-interest over public interest every time. And yet more about Wright has changed than the quality of his suits over the past couple of years. It could just be that by failing to resign, he is about to hand the keys of Rotherham to UKIP.

PS - We forgot to add that some may think the new Labour MP, Sarah Champion, is free of the taint of Labour corruption in Rotherham. Not so, apparently. Her political adviser is Shaun Wright's mother in law.


Wednesday, 27 August 2014

The responsibility for the grooming crisis lies within the culture Hope not Hate has infected the Labour Party with

Make no mistake - Nick Lowles and Hope
not Hate are a major part of the conspiracy of
silence in the Labour Party which allowed
this to happen repeatedly.
'Shining a light on abuse' is the disgraceful apologia issued by Hope not Hate director Nick Lowles following the publication of the report on child abuse in Rotherham. As an exercise in obfuscation and blame passing it is truly New Labour in its scope, which is only to be expected from an organisation so heavily supported by the New Labour faithful, many of whom have ended up in prison for expenses fraud.

Lowles - while at least having the decency to join calls for Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright to resign - goes on to say, "HOPE not hate was vocal in its criticism of how local authorities were dealing with on-street grooming from as far back as 2005". Leaving aside the minor point that Hope not Hate as a separate entity did not exist in 2005, their interest in the issue was politically motivated and solely an attempt to counter BNP propaganda: the type involvementstawhich Hope not Hate advocated and which was deeply entrenched within the Labour Party - turning a blind eye and hoping the problem went away on its own - ensured the continued ability of these grooming gangs to operate.

The desperate attempts to play down their culpability have lead to major re-writes of sections of their blogs and websites as history is re-arranged to make their own actions seem less supportive of those who engaged in child grooming. Luckily, we still have their pages available off-line, meaning articles such as the snippet below are not entirely lost to posterity:

"New HOPE not hate leaflet - £700 needed by midnight tonight

We are producing a new leaflet to debunk the racists’ lies around grooming.... the leaflet will also debunk racist myths peddled by far right groups. We have a mother of a girl who was groomed condemning the BNP for exploiting the issue. We have people in the Muslim communities speaking out. And while racist groups try to blame all Muslims for the actions of a criminal few, this leaflet will also show that many of their own supporters have been convicted child pornography and child abuse"
Nobody was attempting to suggest that every Muslim or every Asian was a child grooming paedophile in waiting except in the deepest reaches of Lowles mind - but making out that that was what his political opponents really meant ensured that the problems could be deferred or ignored. It was a policy always destined to failure, and the price of that failure to date - 1,400 sexually abused young girls in Rotherham alone - is only the tip of the iceberg.

Their actions in opposing child grooming amounted to pointing the finger at the BNP and saying that they too were child abusers, while attempting to minimise the cultural associations which made it particularly prevalent within sections of the Asian community. Elsewhere, serious attempts to deal with the ongoing problem of grooming have been deliberately ignored by Lowles for political reasons. We have long supported the campaign by Imam Alyas Khamani which seeks to impose a 'khutba' in mosques underlining that grooming is un-Islamic behaviour. Hope not Hate meanwhile have never mentioned Khamani's initiative because he is a Respect councillor in Bradford: in fact, in Bradford Nick Lowles was recently praising a councillor with long, established links to the British National Party for managing to hold his seat and keep UKIP (and Respect) out in last May's elections.
Lowles goes on to paint himself as a martyr in the fight against Asian grooming gangs, writing, "Unfortunately, too many people have remained silent for too long,” I wrote at the time. “Police and local authorities have been slow to protect these young girls. Leading figures in local Muslim communities have often been too slow in speaking out on this issue, and in some cases simply dismissed it as Far Right propaganda. They have been joined in this by some on the left, who have been too quick to silence any discussion.". He fails to mention that he himself is one of those on the left who have for many years been desperate to silence calls for action by dismissing them as racist and attacking the messenger rather than the crime. It is Lowles and his band who have ensured that these crimes have continued by refusing to countenance the idea that there may be a racial/cultural/ethnic basis simply because it clashed with their dogmatic, blinkered approach to racism: all differences are good, and to suggest that some are not is to be a neo-Nazi.
We should be clear about this. When the report talks about councillors of Pakistani origin who blocked and mislead the inquiry, this is a direct result of the type of culture within the Labour Party which has been encouraged by Lowles and Hope not Hate. It is a culture which is so determined to turn a blind eye to anything which may have ethnic origins that they would rather sweep it under the carpet than deal with it head on, regardless of the consequences to some of the most vulnerable members of society.
In this, Lowles is as guilty as the PCC whose resignation he calls for: Labour's Shaun Wright, who was responsible for children's services in Rotherham at the height of the scandal, and who was also a member of the police authority at the time. His compliance with the idiotic, blinkered approach advocated by Lowles and the rest of the Labour Party hierarchy allowed this to happen. While taking foster children away from a couple because they happened to be UKIP members, they also permitted over 1,400 children to be sexually abused, threatened, beaten and trafficked as they turned a blind eye because to act may have been considered racist. If clearer proof was needed of the political motivations of this bunch of clowns elevated to high office, we're not sure what form it could take.
And so Lowles finds himself now walking a tightrope. Posts by his organisation which dismissed rumours of major and organised involvement in child grooming by members of the Pakistani and Kashmiri community have been deleted, while some attacking those who suggested a link between certain immigrant communities and child sex have been deleted altogether.

Time and again, Lowles and Hope not Hate have ignored some of the most unpleasant aspects of extremist Islam as they try to persuade us that there is nothing to worry about. Misogyny and homophobia have been ignored as they take aim time and again at any who would dare to raise the fundamental incompatibility between a secular western democracy and fundamentalist Islam. By refusing to shine a light on crimes which they are supposed to expose Hope not Hate have revealed their fundamental hypocrisy: it could be argued that they are in some respects even complicit for promoting an attitude and a culture within the Labour Party which actively prevented such issues from being dealt with.

So, Mr Lowles. Spare us your self-serving crocodile tears. You are not a martyr. You are not and have never been working towards a solution, and to suggest that you are is to overlook your own complicity with the culture of secrecy and silence which permitted such crimes to flourish in Labour controlled areas. 14 months ago, we wrote of Lowles refusal to even mention Imam Kharmani's initiative:

"So I say this to Nick Lowles and his Hope not Hate comrades. Shame on you, for betraying your core principles. Shame on your silence which allows hate to grow and lies to spread unchecked. And shame on your shoddy attempts to put your own personal allegiances ahead of an initiative which will clearly aid better relations between communities. Your blinkered attitude and political partisanship makes you no better than those you claim to oppose. For many years, you attacked the BNP, and ran with the slogan 'Not in my name', only for us to find the tables are now turned, and an increasing barrier to harmonious relations between communities is not the BNP and the EDL, but Hope not Hate and your refusal to back initiatives like Karmani's. If you must continue with such wilful blindness, be aware you do so on your own and not in my name."

It is as true today as it was then. Shame on you, and shame on the cowards you represent. Your moral ambiguity has permeated the Labour Party to such an extent that it has failed in its duty towards not just children, but whole populations of a significant number of Metropolitan areas which it controls. The fault is your, so don't you dare try and wash your hands of it.