Diary

ConHome Diary: Why Theresa May Was Right to Play the Ball, Not the Man

19 Aug 2017 at 12:09

Sarah Champion is one of the more impressive Labour MPs. She is that rarest of people, a Labour front bencher who can actually string a sentence together and conduct a coherent interview without experiencing a car crash. On Wednesday evening she resigned from the front bench (for the third time I think) over an article she wrote last Friday in The Sun. She is the MP for Rotherham who took over when Denis MacShane resigned his seat back in 2012. Her offence? Well, apart from having the temerity to write for The Sun, she dared to confront the fact that most of the men who make up these gangs who target vulnerable white teenagers for sex are from the British Pakistani community. 97% of the girls who are groomed and raped are white. She dared to confront and inconvenient truth. She emphatically was not saying that all child abusers have an Asian background, but those who form these gangs do. Trying to work out why this is does not mean we should ignore an inconvenient truth. Sarah Champion opened her Sun article with these words: “Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls. There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?” And for that, she’s been drummed out of the Brownies and forced to resign.
Labour candidate Amina Lone, who is a muslim told Newsnight: “I grew up in a Muslim community where these attitudes were common. “White girls are easy” “Nobody cares about them” “They are just slags” “They parents don’t look after them properly” etc were/are still said today. I hear it regularly. Sarah Champion was talking about a particular type of grooming which is carried by men because of their cultural/religious practices. Obvs not all men. She is not a racist but a brave woman speaking out about a politically awkward issue. Labour, bury your heads as much as you like in the black & white purist world you push. The chickens will come home to roost.”
Quite.
However, not everyone goes along with that. Owen Jones told me on LBC he considers that paragraph to be racist. And there, Ladies and Gentlemen, you have a prime example of what is wrong with our politics today.
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This week we marked the 70th anniversary of the partition of India. I don’t know about you, but it made me realise how little I knew about the event and how it came about. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh live with the consequences of partition today, so why don’t we know more about it? India is going to play a massive role in the world in the next twenty years. Perhaps our media might like to give it the same level of coverage it gives to China.
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Why is that on A Level results day TV news reporters only ever seem to interview very good looking girls or show pictures of them jumping up in the air when they open their envelopes? Do boys not count any longer in this weird old world we live in nowadays?
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Last week I wrote the majority of the column about Donal Trump and Kim Jong Un. Seeing as though Kim Jong Un has blinked, let’s concentrate on Trump this week. His reaction to the events in Charlottesville demonstrate why it’s impossible for him ever to unite his country. He called some Neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan “very fine people”. In an angry press conference he undid all the fine words he had uttered from an autocue the previous day. He seemed unabl to differentiate between fascists and anti-fascists. On the first day back from her holidays Theresa May rightly condemned this attitude although she was careful to play the ball, not the man. It is right she should speak out, but people have to understand the Realpolitik of the situation. America remains our closest ally and a country with whom we need a free trade agreement. It’s right for the prime Minister to make clear her position, as she’s done, but gratuitous personal insults will help no one. There are, of course, further calls for his State Visit to be cancelled. Wouldn’t it be better for it to go ahead and for people to make their views clear while he is here? The way things are going, I’d be tempted to man the barricades myself, and I count myself as a down the line Americaphile.
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Those who follow political debates on Twitter will have no doubt noticed that James Chapman’s Twitter account was deleted early on Thursday morning. When the truth comes out about what has happened, there ought to be a day of reckoning for some very irresponsible journalists (and others). And that’s all I’m saying on the subject.

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