Get in touch

Rotherham and UKIP Fostering Debate

If I were so minded, I could probably write a blog every day on the subject of racism and the frequency with which accusations of racism are made by one party, only to be swiftly denied by another, if only to show the pattern of it all which constantly fascinates. For a long time now I’ve noticed what seems to be an unspoken rule among social and political commentators, whereby they’re required to deny, refute, and belittle all charges of racism unless their provenance can be sourced directly to the British National Party, in which case, all hell can break loose for all they care.

Part of the hasty rebuttal machine involves these very same people pronouncing on what is and what isn’t racism. Bear in mind that they often have no direct experience of racism bar one or two who might’ve had multi-culturalism thrust upon them by way of a daughter or son partnering up with someone of a different culture. In the minds of these people, their new-found multi-cultural credentials gives them greater rights than most to opine on the everyday racism that blights lives. More often than not however, their stance is simply to deny it exists because with no racism, there can be no blighted lives. End of. And they’re winning. People who are keen to expound the notion that racism has gone away are stifling debate all over social media. Not by spite or malice but an unwillingness to think or believe that such unwitting prejudice still exists in good all blighty in these days of enlightened times. It’s an alarming development and no good can come of it.

However, a slightly different development took place over the weekend, which was at odds with the usual form of allegation followed by denial, because in this case it involved Rotherham Council who had allegedly withdrawn three Eastern European children from the loving arms of foster parents who were believed to be members of UKIP.

UKIP is the political party that David Cameron no less has described as “fruitcakes, loonies, closet racists”. At the time he made the statement, there was much frothing from within UKIP, but little from elsewhere. But the Rotherham decision has exposed another layer to the racism debate, which seems to be a refusal to accept that the culture and traditions of children should be a significant factor in the choice of foster or adoptive parents.

UKIP loudly proclaims its objection to the ‘active promotion of multiculturalism’ and its reasonable to assume that a UKIP member would support such a stance. Why is it then not reasonable to consider just how such a person, holding such a negative view of multi-culturalism, could at the same time provide a loving environment to three Eastern European children who make up part of that objectionable multi-culturalism? If anything, we need to know more about this particular case before leaping to conclusions but that didn’t stop the floodgates opening at the weekend and senior figures from all parties weighing into the debate.

The most sensible voice came from the British Association of Social Workers, who issued the following statement:

The British Association of Social Workers (BASW) would not seek to defend this decision based on the limited amount of evidence available, as membership of UKIP should not of itself be a sufficient reason to remove a child or children from a foster placement. We would nonetheless caution against kneejerk condemnation, as so often in such cases the headlines and the realities are some distance apart.

The issue of a child’s ethnic heritage is an important consideration in any decisions made about fostering, as this factor can make a difference to the chances of securing a successful placement and supporting children in often traumatic circumstances. In turn, a willingness on the part of foster parents to respect the culture and background of a child is extremely important, which is why UKIP’s reported position on multiculturalism appears to have been a cause for concern in this case.

However, membership of UKIP should not be considered, as an isolated factor, sufficient reason to dismiss the suitability of a parent or parents, which is why, given the limited information available, this decision is difficult to fully understand.

 

The absolute priority must always be the needs of the child. Invariably though commentators, keen as they are to belittle ethnic and cultural considerations, will be outraged that the rights of this couple have been trampled over for the sake of political correctness. Political affiliations should not determine a person’s ability to provide foster care but the rights and needs of children to be brought up in loving, accepting environment, where their ethnicity is a source of pride and joy, must be paramount.