nigel Farage’s Ukip has been criticised for offering words not actions for Rotherham’s abuse survivors.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion has said the Ukip leader’s “distasteful” attempt to politicise the abuse scandal showed he was more concerned with winning votes than helping victims.
The town has been at the centre of national media attention after the Communities Secretary Eric Pickles published a damning report into Rotherham Council’s response to the abuse inquiry, in which author Louse Casey made clear the authority had failed to act before or since it emerged that more than 1,400 girls had been left to be abused by mainly Asian men.
Mr Farage arrived in Rotherham with the message “if this isn’t political I don’t know what is”, and immediately faced protest at his appearance.
Ms Champion said she knew Ukip would now target her seat on an anti-abuse platform.
“I take the threat very seriously,” she said, “but I find it incredibly distasteful that the main thing they are campaigning on is child abuse without doing anything to say what they would do to tackle abuse here.”
She added: “The Ukip councillors who have been in place for a year now have done nothing to speak out on this at the council, no motion to get this dealt with.”
Ms Champion points to a key section of the Casey report which talks of a lack of action since the abuse claims were first published as part of an official inquiry.
The Government-backed report says of the opposition: “Whilst the opposition in Rotherham is small, we saw limited evidence of them raising concerns and putting pressure on the leadership. In terms of Child Sexual Exploitation, we could not find evidence that the opposition had been at all effective in scrutinising and challenging, or active in getting the matter on the agenda.”
Seizing on this as proof of Ukip’s failure to do more than shout loudly, Ms Champion said: “If Ukip were coming forward with really strong ways to tackle this I would work with them, but that is not what is happening.
“I don’t want the work that I am doing for victims or survivors to end up being a political tool. But because Ukip are making it such it is really difficult to not get drawn into this row, and that’s very distasteful, this should be bigger than politics.”
In an interview for Saturday’s Yorkshire Post, Ms Champion said her work has been made more difficult by the “old boys’ club” attitudes at Parliament.