JUST what is it about the Conservative Party and Europe?
At a time when the Tories could and should be taking advantage of their biggest majority in a quarter of a century, they are once again ripping themselves apart over the question of whether Britain would be better off in or out.
A Remain campaign once sold by Downing Street as the will of the bulk of the parliamentary party pitched against no more than 80 dissenters has now degenerated into an increasingly nasty civil war.
Relations have reached a new low with the highly personal attacks on David Cameron and George Osborne from Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Employment Minister Priti Patel.
The Prime Minister, we are told, is having a “corrosive” impact on public trust in politicians, while he and the Chancellor stand accused of being too rich to care about the concerns of ordinary people on migration.
There is no question that the still soaring numbers coming to Britain are causing considerable damage to Mr Cameron’s credibility.
Having rashly promised to reduce net migration to “tens of thousands”, the fact that figures are running at more than 330,000 is a source of acute embarrassment and, with the Leave campaign having failed to convince on the economic argument, is the logical cornerstone of their campaign with six weeks left to the referendum.
It should not be forgotten, however, that Britain retains full control over non-EU migration and yet successive governments have failed to tackle it.
Nor is it clear how the increasingly fractured Conservatives will function after June 23.
Whatever the referendum result, the issue of Europe once again looks certain to be the pre-cursor to an internal wrestle for power within the party’s ranks.
A new chapter for Rotherham
THE DESIRE of Rotherham Council to put “its past behind it” is easy to understand given its very public shaming by the Jay Report into child sexual exploitation in the town.
Nor could anyone quibble with the authority’s laudable ambition to now create a “child-centered borough” and to be seen as a benchmark for other councils when it comes to its championing of young people.
Certainly, in light of its past catastrophic failures to protect the young and vulnerable, success in this regard would constitute a spectacular turnaround.
Since the revelations concerning its breathtaking inaction to tackle the widespread grooming going on under its nose, which saw it placed under the control of Government-appointed commissioners, the council is confident that it is at last moving in the right direction.
Its child-centred ambitions are a welcome part of this wish to open a new chapter, to move forward and start to rebuild public confidence.
Yet it would be a mistake to forget the past completely – however painful that past may be – as it only increases the risk of it being repeated.
More than anything, it is a change of mindset that is needed within the council’s ranks to ensure that young people are, at the very least, given the levels of protection they should expect.
Having been stymied by complacency and clouded by misguided political correctness in the recent past, the authority should remember that any number of masterplans and initiatives are worth nothing without individuals in positions of responsibility having the courage and conviction to do the right thing.
Tigers roar back
HULL’S 2017 just keeps getting better. It will now kick off its year as UK City of Culture as a proud member of the Premier League.
The Tigers’ success in returning to the top flight at the first time of asking is akin to winning English football’s lottery.
A place in the Premier League is now estimated to be worth at least £170m, such is the money pouring in to the league’s coffers thanks to the television bidding war.
At the same time as Hull was celebrating, the blue and white half of Sheffield was suffering further heartbreak.
But yesterday brought better news for another South Yorkshire side as Barnsley earned a deserved return to the Championship by beating Millwall for the third time this season.
Predicting how both Hull and Barnsley will fare in their respective divisions next season would require a crystal ball.
For now, fans of both clubs can enjoy a summer spent dreaming of what future excitement may lie ahead of them.