|George Bernard Shaw|
The director of children's services in Rotherham, Joyce Thacker, insisted yesterday that UKIP's policy on multiculturalism, and previous criticism from a judge that the children's "cultural and ethnic needs" were not being met, informed its decision – a claim that was met with disbelief in Whitehall. She told the BBC: "These children are from EU migrant backgrounds, and UKIP has very clear statements about ending multiculturalism ... and I have to think about how sensitive I am being to those children."
In my view, this story illustrates two uncomfortable facts of political life in 21st century Britain. The first, being the consequences of the silent politicisation of the civil service that began on the day Tony Blair took office; led by the doctrine of unrestricted multiculturalism, which until quite recently was above challenge or sensible public debate.
As a consequence of employment protection legislation and generous entitlement, introduced by the last government, it's almost impossible to remove incompetent officers from local or county councils or indeed, overpaid managers from the BBC, without eye-watering settlement terms.
The second concern, involves local government in some parts of the country, not only wanting to know where you live but in some circumstances, how you voted as well. This may be more true of the band of well-entrenched Labour-controlled councils, stretching in a wide swathe between Liverpool on the west coast and Newcastle on the east and down as far as Birmingham.
Rotherham is even more worrying, because the Council's first reaction was an attempt to defend the indefensible, before being critically rounded-upon by the leadership of all the main political parties. I was deeply unimpressed by the Cabinet Member for Children, who was a living caricature of an unreconstructed Labour local councillor. Whose idea was it to put him in front of a television camera I wonder?
One editorial today, comments: 'there is no doubt that the children removed from the foster care of a UKIP supporting couple are just the latest victims of the culture war being waged by so-called “progressives”. Marxists and Fabians have long waged war on the traditional family since the days of George Bernard Shaw when he wrote in “Socialism and the Family” that socialism…' …
"intervenes between the children and the parents, claiming to support them, protect them, and educate them for its own ampler purposes. Socialism, in fact, is the State family. The old family of the private individual must vanish before it, just as the old water works of private enterprise, or the old gas company. They are incompatible with it. Socialism assails the rampant egotism of the family today… So far as English Socialism is concerned … I must confess that the assault has displayed a quite extraordinary instinct for taking cover, but that is a question of tactics rather than of essential antagonism."
I'm certain that Polly Toynbee in the Guardian - fresh from her fact finding visit to Thanet - may see things differently and perhaps find reason to justify the apparent proscription of UKIP as an enemy of the socialist state. However, there are millions of Britains, who are attracted by their policies towards Europe and controlled immigration, without lurching to the far right as a consequence. One might sensibly think that this presents more of a challenge to David Cameron than Ed Miliband but then you have to remember the ideological gulf that frequently exists between the self-absorbed Westminster intellectuals and party members and activists in the regions.
The Rotherham by-election, instead of being a foregone conclusion for Labour, will now prove very revealing. Will UKIP benefit from a 'bounce' protest vote and will head roll at the Council? If they do, then you can bet that employment tribunals and expensive compensation will follow behind closed doors and little or nothing will change a deeply entrenched, Guardian-reading political culture, that perpetuates itself in town halls across England.