THIS is a summary of the charge sheet after Parliament’s Home Affairs Select Committee found Rotherham Council and South Yorkshire Police guilty of betraying 1,400 youngsters who were sexually abused by Pakistani grooming gangs during 16 years of untold misery.
In an unprecedented move, Shaun Wright was ordered to resign immediately as South Yorkshire’s crime commissioner – MPs simply did not accept a single word of his faltering evidence when he denied knowledge about the scale of child sex exploitation when he was the Labour councillor in charge of children’s services in Rotherham from 2005 until 2010. Never before has an elected politician been asked to quit like this.
Joyce Thacker, Rotherham’s current children’s services director, was also told to step aside. If she refuses, the borough’s outgoing chief executive Martin Kimber has been ordered to take the necessary action before he quits in three months time. This remains to be seen – he has failed, thus far, to discipline any member of his council for their part in one of Britain’s worst-ever child abuse scandals.
The list of named and shamed individuals does not end here. The evidence of Meredydd Hughes, chief constable of South Yorkshire Police from 2004 until 2011, was described as being “totally unconvincing” after he said that he had “no idea” about the level of abuse taking place on his watch and there were even concerns that his successor, David Crompton, has not done enough to help those victims still coming forward.
Listening to the evidence, it’s bewildering that many of those connected with this scandal are still in post.
Bereft of credibility, their positions are untenable. And, if this is not sufficient reason to resign, perhaps Mr Wright and his cohorts will listen to the abuse victims. They are the most important people of all and their voices must be heard.
Flying the flag
Will symbolic gesture save UK?
IT is a sad reflection of the strains in current Anglo-Scottish relations that the flying of the Saltire from Yorkshire town halls is unlikely to be universally welcomed.
Although some people will welcome the symbolism of this gesture, and hope that it inspires Scottish voters to support the preservation of the United Kingdom in next week’s independence vote, others will lament the extent to which Yorkshire and the North have become marginalised by the political upheaval which is taking place north of the border.
After all, taxpayers in this region have good reason to question the validity of the uncosted promises that Gordon Brown and others are now making, when every Scottish resident receives an additional £1,300 of public funding in comparison to the rest of the UK thanks to the outdated Barnett Formula.
This continuing act of generosity – a legacy of the last independence vote in 1979 – seems to have been conveniently forgotten as pro-union parties in Westminster and Edinburgh look to counter the stridency of SNP leader Alex Salmond.
Perhaps David Cameron will offer a meaningful explanation after taking the unprecedented decision to cancel Prime Minister’s Questions today so that he can spend the day on the campaign trail in Scotland.
Such a move, frankly, smacks of desperation from a political establishment at Westminster that is distrusted by an increasing number of voters across the United Kingdom and which also appears incapable of articulating a vibrant vision for Scotland that does not involve the break-up of this great country.
A lesson for all
Teachers need to be respected
THIS should be the most academically-gifted generation in history – today’s university graduates and school-leavers are, after all, the beneficiaries of Tony Blair’s “education, education, education” mantra.
If only this was the case. Literacy rates amongst 11-year-olds are some of the worst in Europe while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has questioned the proficiency of Britain’s higher education students.
As well as making for depressing reading, it is a reminder that Britain will struggle to hold its own unless it can create a generation of world-class teachers who have the ability to make a lasting difference to the quality of the lessons taught in schools, colleges and universities. Unfortunately this is likely to be a forlorn wish until Ministers start to respect the teaching profession – and vice versa.For, without great teachers, this country will remain at the bottom of the class.