The Rotherham abuse scandal represents a savage indictment of the local council and police. Through their spectacular incompetence, cowardice and neglect they allowed more than 1,400 vulnerable girls, some as young as 11, to be systematically abused over a period of 16 years, even though many of these victims were known to the authorities.
It seems almost inexplicable that abuse on this scale could be allowed to happen.
Yet in some ways the appalling saga in the South Yorkshire town was all too predictable, for it was a direct consequence of the creed of multiculturalism that holds sway across the public sector, particularly the social services.
It is this enforced orthodoxy that so disastrously inhibited the Rotherham authorities from taking action against the predatory gangs of Pakistani men, and from protecting the girls, who were mainly white.
The ideologues of multiculturalism, clinging to their vision of harmonious diversity, might not like to face up to the reality, but without doubt the ethnicity of the abusers was a central factor in the reluctance of the State to tackle their vile activities. The report produced by Professor Alexis Jay, the distinguished former inspector of social work in Scotland, makes that unequivocally clear.
‘Almost all’ offenders were Pakistani, she writes, ‘yet some people in the council and the police wanted to play down the ethnic dimension.’
Meanwhile, frontline staff felt ‘unsure’ how to deal with the crime pattern ‘for fear of being thought racist’.
Shamefully, it is obvious from the report that the council and police put far greater emphasis on maintaining the image of successful diversity in Rotherham than on protecting children.
Professor Jay’s report states explicitly that gangs acted with impunity for 16 years because council staff not only feared accusations of racism but thought a tough approach ‘might damage community cohesion’.
Even Denis MacShane, the disgraced former Labour MP for Rotherham, who was jailed for fiddling his expenses, admitted yesterday that in his role as a constituency representative he failed to take the allegations seriously because ‘I didn’t want to rock the multicultural boat’.
Those words, along with Professor Jay’s report, show the terrible damage done by the ideology of multiculturalism which, in Rotherham, was elevated above the requirements of law enforcement and compassionate morality.
Its supporters proclaim multiculturalism as a vehicle for prosperity, vibrancy and harmony. But in truth, as we can see from the fragmentation of our urban areas, it has promoted division, separatism and distrust.
Thanks to this dogma, we no longer have a universal moral code or national identity, and the consequences can be seen all around us, whether in the rise of home-grown Islamic extremism or in the failure of too many migrant groups to learn even basic English.
The advance of multiculturalism across our civic life has been fuelled by the deepening official fixation with ‘anti-racism’.
I should stress that the fight against genuine racial prejudice is a noble cause, one that inspired the civil rights activists in Sixties America and the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. In Britain, too, an eagerness to root out bigotry helped to create an open, inclusive society that was welcoming to immigrants.
In the same way, the uplifting moral imperative of rejecting racism helped ultimately to achieve justice for the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence.
But since the successful outcome of the Lawrence case, I am worried that the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of hysterical, authoritarian anti-racism — a fear that any criticism of a particular racial, cultural or religious group will be seen as racist.
Indeed, Professor Jay criticised the police in Rotherham for their excessive reliance on the views of Muslim elders, an approach that undermined the protection of women and girls.
The police, accused of ‘institutional racism’ in the 1999 report of the inquiry into the death of Stephen Lawrence, now appear to be sometimes paralysed in the face of criminality by ethnic minorities, an attitude reflected in their obsession with community engagement and diversity awareness training.
Some will argue that such fears arise from well-meaning impulses. Yet our political Establishment seems to have lost the sense that a balance must be struck between the admirable battle against real discrimination and the craven fear of challenging even the worst kinds of behaviour among some ethnic minorities.
The latter is what we see all the time in modern urban Britain, where the obsession with diversity reigns supreme. The horrors of Rotherham are hardly unique. We have seen the same official reluctance to tackle abuse by predatory Muslim gangs in places such as Oxford, Telford, Derby and Rochdale.
In the same pusillanimous manner, the police and councils have been fearful of tackling the rise of jihadism on our streets, pretending that there was no real threat to Britain.
Indeed, in one notorious case, West Midlands police urged the prosecution of Channel 4 TV producers on grounds of incitement to racial hatred, for daring to make a documentary about hate preachers in Birmingham’s mosques.
This neurosis about anti-discrimination has also blighted the State’s ability to deal with gangland violence, gun crime, muggings and knife attacks perpetrated by young black men in our inner cities, a supine posture that plumbed new depths in 2011 in the riots that engulfed London after the shooting of the alleged drug dealer Mark Duggan.
It was the police’s fear of accusations of racism, bred by years of unbalanced anti-racist indoctrination, that allowed disorder to spread so rapidly across the capital. At the same time, there was a litany of excuse-making to absolve the young criminals of responsibility for their actions.
We are told that they are suffering from deprivation, marginalisation, a macho street culture and a lack of male role models, though any attempt to address these problems often leads to yet more charges of racism.
The remorseless official focus on anti-racism has been further fed by the dramatic transformation of our society through mass immigration, which over the past decade has been running at more than 500,000 new arrivals every year, with many arriving from Asia and Africa.
It is no exaggeration to describe the change as an unprecedented social revolution. White British people are in the minority across entire conurbations such as London, Luton and Slough.
For all the cheering from the multiculturalists at this demographic upheaval, we have to recognise that it has not only imposed a severe burden on our civic infrastructure, reflected in overcrowded schools and overstretched hospitals, but has led to a host of other problems including the importing of dangerous diseases such as tuberculosis and rickets, formerly thought to have been eradicated from modern Britain.
As I know from my own experience, this country has been wonderfully tolerant. Few other nations could have absorbed so many newcomers without strife or political breakdown. But that tolerance is being stretched to breaking point.
Far from promoting harmony, politically correct angst about racism by the authorities is undermining the fabric of our society. And it is innocent girls like those in Rotherham who are paying the price.