Tag Archives: Rochdale

Who is accountable in Rotherham?

Speaking to Andrew Neil on the BBC’s Daily Politics, Mark Reckless discusses the appalling case of child sexual abuse in Rotherham.

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A Cosy Cartel Closing Ranks?

In Parliament today I asked the following question:

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (UKIP):
When the Home Affairs Committee investigated child sexual abuse in Rochdale and in Rotherham, we did see a difference: there was at least some action in Rochdale, but we found complete denial in Rotherham, so I support the thrust of the intervention.

Even if single-party Labour control may not have caused what happened, it did allow it. Until UKIP broke through there in the local elections last year, there was virtually no party political competition in Rotherham. Pending the 2016 all-out elections, will the May 2015 elections go ahead to allow us to continue to hold the Labour councillors responsible to account at the ballot box?

I fought hard to ensure that the Home Affairs Select Committee condemned Rotherham Council in the strongest possible terms for allowing industrial scale child sexual abuse. I also argued that we should contrast how badly it behaved with other councils, such as Rochdale, which at least tired to learn where they had gone wrong so they could improve.

Our report was published twenty months ago http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201314/cmselect/cmhaff/68/6802.htm

Why did Labour not clean out its stables then? Why did Conservative ministers allow a further year and a half plus to elapse before today’s statement? Should we not have been hearing those questions and answers to them today? Instead we had these apparently mutually congratulatory exchanges between the minister and MPs including three Labour MPs who represent Rotherham Borough http://www.parliament.uk/business/publications/hansard/commons/todays-commons-debates/read/unknown/283/

However, now that his Department has finally caught up, this is how Eric Pickles responded when I asked my question:

Mr Pickles:
The hon. Gentleman makes a very reasonable point about the way Rochdale approached this. The May 2015 elections will take place. However, let me say to him that this is about people’s lives. This is about protecting children; it is not about whether some grubby politician is elected or not. If we seek to turn this into some kind of political football, we will be as bad as the failing councillors of Rotherham, and I am determined that that should not be the case.

Because I referred to our holding Labour Councillors to account at the ballot box, is Eric Pickles saying I am “as bad as the failing councillors of Rotherham”? Can it really be that a cosy cartel of Labour and Conservative politicians has so lost its moral compass as to think that?

I wish I had been able to ask Mr Pickles at the time, except I couldn’t as I wasn’t allowed to hear his response, and instead had to wait three hours to read it in Hansard. The best I could do at the time was to put on record the behaviour of some of the Labour MPs who shouted down my effort to call their party to account:

Mark Reckless (Rochester and Strood) (UKIP):
On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The hon. Member for Bassetlaw (John Mann) was shouting in my ear, so I did not hear the Secretary of State’s answer to my question—will councillors elected in Rotherham in 2011 be held to account at the ballot box in May, or is the Secretary of State extending their term by a year?

Mr Speaker:
I appreciate that. I think the Secretary of State did give a clear answer, although I understand the hon. Gentleman’s point. It is a perfectly reasonable question and I am sure the Secretary of State is happy to repeat his answer.

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (Mr Eric Pickles):
The 2015 elections continue as normal.