Socialist Worker

Labour MP’s remarks fuelled racism

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2597

An anti-racist protest in Rotherham in September 2015

An anti-racist protest in Rotherham in September 2015 (Pic: Socialist Worker)


A recent report has shone a light on the impact of politicians’ racism—and the deep disillusion that exists with the establishment.

The Just Yorkshire charity asked Asian people in Rotherham about comments made by their Labour MP Sarah Champion last August.

Champion wrote a piece in The Sun newspaper that claimed British Pakistani men posed a particular threat to white girls.

“For too long we have ignored the race of these abusers and, worse, tried to cover it up,” she wrote.

Attack

“These people are predators and their common denominator is their ethnic heritage.”

Her piece appeared exactly two years after 81 year old Mushin Ahmed was killed in a racist attack in Rotherham.

His murderers had called him a “groomer”.

The charity has called for a Citizen’s Jury to look at how the Rotherham child abuse scandal has affected racism and civil liberties.

Respondents to its survey said Champion’s comments had increased racism in the South Yorkshire town.

Some 79 percent said her article had an impact on them. Many said they had suffered more verbal abuse, threats, swearing and racist comments.

One woman said her sons had been called “rapist Pakis” at school the week that Champion’s article was published.

“Sarah’s article added fuel and divided the community further,” she said.

Some respondents had been called “groomers”.

Stirred

One man was “frightened to go out” as the article had “stirred racial tension”.

Another had been “spat at on the street” while another felt “stressed and vulnerable”. One simply said, “Living is a nightmare.”

Many respondents felt “disappointed”, “let down” and “angry”.

One woman said Champion had “given legitimacy” to bigots. Many said Champion’s remarks were “racist”.

Several pointed out that abusers come from all sections of society—and that it isn’t only white girls who suffer abuse.

A number denounced Champion for choosing the right wing Sun newspaper to air her views in.

The survey also found widespread disillusion with the system in general.

When asked who people felt best represents their interests politically, more than 71 percent said “no one”.

A couple of respondents said the Rotherham 12, a group of Asian men who fought charges after protesting against Nazis, spoke for them.

Mainstream politicians were held in low regard.

“I don’t trust politicians,” said one woman. “Councillors do nothing either.”

“No one listens, they have their own agendas,” added a man. Another said politicians are “never there unless it’s elections”.

One woman said of politicians, “All make promises but then don’t deliver,” while another said, “Nothing changes.”

For another, aside from Jeremy Corbyn, she had “no faith in the current system at all”.


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