IPCC working to establish identity of some of the subjects of Rotherham complaints – which include corruption allegations.
A host of new complaints have been made about South Yorkshire Police’s handling of child sexual exploitation in Rotherham. These include allegations of corrupt relationships between officers and offenders. A report last year by Professor…
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by Kevin Meagher Tomorrow, Labour faces a massive electoral test that hasn t, so far, garnered much publicity. Forget Heywood and Middleton, if Labour loses the by-election for a new Police and Crime Commissioner in South Yorkshire, deepest red Labour territory and the political backyard of Ed Miliband and a swathe of the shadow cabinet, the fallout will be immense.
Twelve months ago, the concept of Labour faring badly here would have been unthinkable. In the 2012 Rotherham by-election, caused by the resignation of Denis MacShane for fiddling his expenses, Labour held on comfortably, with more than double1 the share of the vote of second-placed UKIP. That was then.
Now, with the Rotherham child grooming scandal still reverberating in all its three-dimensional awfulness bookies have UKIP hot on Labour s heels as we enter the last day of campaigning. As I wrote at the time2, the party s initial response to the Rotherham scandal was slow and uncertain. Not much has changed since.
Indeed, there have not been, as far as I am aware, any visits by Ed Miliband to reassure people there that this bleak episode in the party s management of the town will not be repeated. Contrition has been thin on the ground. Let s be clear: the systematic abuse of children and young girls by gangs of Pakistani-heritage men in the town was unforgivable.
Girls in care were thrown to the wolves by inept council officials who put political correctness ahead of decency and common sense. Grooming was seen as girls making informed choices . The police couldn t have cared less.
There is no other way of dressing it up. There is no missing context. This was a vile episode.
Some heads have rolled and deservedly so. Others should follow. Professor Alexis Jay s report made clear that there were at least 1,400 victims.
This is her conservative estimate, as young Pakistani girls and boys were also abused, but are less like to report it for cultural reasons. And the shame for it rests squarely at Labour s door. The wicked Tories weren t to blame.
Neither were the Lib Dems or UKIP. Between them, a Labour council and Labour-controlled police force created this mess. Meanwhile, the town s MPs were apparently blissfully unaware.
What we do know, is that fears about inflaming community tensions one of the main excuses for inaction were misplaced. For all the anger in the town, there are no reports of riots or disturbances since Professor Jay s report was published. All that is left are decent working class communities crying out for someone to do something to make sure this can never happen again.
We will have to wait and see if they are prepared to give Labour a last chance. And hope that the visceral disgust felt across Rotherham does not spill over to the rest of South Yorkshire. So back to the question: can Labour lose on Thursday?
There is little polling evidence to base a judgement on, just a pervasive sense of malaise from the electorate. It is fuelled by the reason for this by-election: the behaviour of the disgraced Shaun Wright in hanging on to his role even after it was clear he was mired in the Rotherham scandal from his time in charge of children s services in the town. (The final straw that triggered his resignation appears to have been the vigil that members of the English Defence League were keeping outside his house). Mike Smithson, the respected pollster and editor of PoliticalBetting.com, thinks an upset is possible3:
Turnout in these elections, as we ve seen, is pitifully low and might present UKIP with a huge opportunity on Thursday. The momentum is certainly with the party. Yet, despite the fact ten of UKIP s top 100 Labour target parliamentary seats are in South Yorkshire, the party only made relatively modest progress in June s local elections, winning just two seats in Sheffield, one in Doncaster and none at all in Barnsley, although, it has to be conceded, they did win ten in Rotherham before Professor Jay s report was even published. (A spike that probably reflects disgust with Denis MacShane).
Personally, I think a low turnout and modest Labour win is the likeliest outcome. Sheffield and the other South Yorkshire towns should offset any UKIP surge in Rotherham. But if Labour does lose, it will signify a collapse in the party s working class support and expose its fallibility in its once impregnable strongholds.
With so much staked on a Labour victory tomorrow, Ed Miliband really has to sort out the party s rotten boroughs to avoid ever being put in this position again. Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Labour Uncut Tags: Alexis Jay, cover up, grooming, Kevin Meagher, Rotherham, South Yorkshire PCC election456789
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- ^ more than double (www.bbc.co.uk)
- ^ As I wrote at the time (labour-uncut.co.uk)
- ^ thinks an upset is possible (www1.politicalbetting.com)
- ^ Alexis Jay (labour-uncut.co.uk)
- ^ cover up (labour-uncut.co.uk)
- ^ grooming (labour-uncut.co.uk)
- ^ Kevin Meagher (labour-uncut.co.uk)
- ^ Rotherham (labour-uncut.co.uk)
- ^ South Yorkshire PCC election (labour-uncut.co.uk)
- ^ Uncut (labour-uncut.co.uk)
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(Photo: Justin Tallis/Getty)
Before the by-election battle with Ukip in Rochester that Westminster is rather obsessed with, there s another chance for Nigel Farage s party to cause a political earthquake. Tomorrow, voters in South Yorkshire will go to the polls to elect a new police and crime commissioner to replace Shaun Wright, who eventually resigned after the Rotherham child abuse scandal.
Ukip is fighting a vigorous campaign in this PCC election, launching posters at the weekend that read there are 1,400 reasons why you should not trust Labour again , with a picture of a teenage girl on them. The party s candidate Jack Clarkson does have a good chance of winning the seat from Labour, which will cause serious jitters.
Some Labour MPs think that it will show how the party is bleeding support in its heartlands, while others dismiss it as a unique by-election fought after a terrible scandal on what is likely to be a low turnout.
That Labour would scrap the job if it entered government in 2015 makes it a little less serious, too.
Both sides accept that it is impossible to call this result: there has been no poll and neither party has sufficient data from canvassing to make them sufficiently confident that they ll win. Both have sent out mail shots to voters, realising that postal votes are particularly important in this fight.
But even if Labour does beat Ukip, which the bookies odds (see last night s Evening Blend email here1, and sign up to our free daily email briefings here2) still suggest it will, Ukip could still use the result to make trouble. The result can be broken down by borough, which means we will know how each party fared in Rotherham and Doncaster, for instance.
Ukip are fairly confident of a win at least in Rotherham, but Doncaster is their second safest area, they claim.
Even with all the above caveats about this by-election saying very little about the general election result, both sides are very keen to get their hands on the data on how different local authority areas voted. Ukip could claim that a win in Doncaster means they have their tanks parked well and truly on Ed Miliband s lawn. Sources cheerfully point out that there are only two MPs in Doncaster, so it would not be a tremendous stretch to predict a strong Ukip seat in the Labour leader s constituency next year.
Indeed, one Ukip source says:
If I were a betting man, I would bet on us getting within 5,000 of Ed Miliband in Doncaster.
Ukip needs by-election results like this to built momentum and give voters in the area the sense that it is quite normal to back Nigel Farage s party.
Even if this result tells us very little about the General Election results in the area, a win for Ukip would still create that momentum and make life just a little more uncomfortable for Labour.