Labour accused of turning blind eye to abuse: Three senior figures say ‘politically correct brigade’ ignored warnings for fear of inflaming community tensions
Ann Cryer, Simon Danczuk and Denis MacShane launch attack on Tony Blair
They claim his administration turned a blind eye to abuse by Asian gangs
Committee will ask whether ‘social cohesion’ [what does this mean?] was put before investigations
By DANIEL MARTIN
1 September 2014
Three Labour figures have accused Tony Blair’s government of turning a blind eye to child abuse and terrorism in the Muslim community – for fear of inflaming community tensions.
Former MP Ann Cryer said the ‘politically correct brigade’ predominant on the left dismissed her warnings after she exposed a sex-abuse scandal involving Asian men in her constituency.
Rochdale MP Simon Danczuk said far too many on the left had been guilty of ‘obsessing about multiculturalism’ rather than more important issues such as child rape.
And Denis MacShane, a former Foreign Office minister and MP for Rotherham, said he was threatened with the sack by Jack Straw for urging Muslims to turn away from terrorism.
The sustained criticism of the Blair government’s record came as it emerged that MPs will launch an investigation into whether the Home Office knew about allegations of abuse in Rotherham as far back as 2001.
At least 1,400 girls as young as 11 were assaulted and raped by gangs of Asian men over a period of 16 years. Some had guns pointed at them or were doused in petrol and threatened with being set alight.
The Commons home affairs committee will question Home Secretary Theresa May over what her department knew about what had gone on in Rotherham.
13 years ago a man was accused of abusing 18 girls in Rotherham. Only now are police acting on the claims
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It is now known that in 2002, a Home Office researcher was conducting an investigation into trafficking and underage prostitution by mainly Muslim gangs in Rotherham, but it was never published.
Home Secretary at the time was Labour’s David Blunkett, and there is no suggestion that he knew of the report’s existence. But the committee of MPs will ask whether there was an overriding culture in the Blair government aimed at avoiding any harm to community ‘cohesion’.
Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, said: ‘We would be very keen to get from the Home Office a full and frank response to the research that was commissioned in 2002.
‘This is an essential part of the jigsaw to determine why the council failed to act, and whether the Home Office could have done more to ensure that it did act.
‘We want to see every piece of information the Home Office holds on this, and I will be writing to the Home Secretary to ask that the databases are searched to see what files it holds on this horrific behaviour in Rotherham.’
Former Labour MP Ms Cryer said that when she raised similar issues in her constituency of Keighley between 2002 and 2004, her views were dismissed.
‘A politically correct left just saw it as racism,’ she said. The MP was shunned by elements of her party and a panic button was installed in her house.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World This Weekend programme, she said: ‘The politically correct brigade will always have anxieties about this sort of thing.
‘You don’t want to give the BNP and the EDL ammunition, but I had to think if these were my daughters I’d be very upset about this, so what can I do to alleviate the situation.’
Ms Cryer revealed that former London mayor Ken Livingstone suggested she had ‘misunderstood’ the situation in Keighley. ‘Frustrated is an understatement. I was very cross.’
The former MP called for mandatory reporting so that doctors, teachers and social workers are obliged to flag up suspected abuse. ‘Schools and hospitals have to play a more active part in these things,’ she said.
Mr Danczuk, who has done much to expose abuse carried out by Asian men in his constituency of Rochdale, said that some of his Labour colleagues disapproved of his efforts.
‘Last week I received a text message from a current Labour MP saying she was disappointed by my views on this issue,’ he wrote. ‘I was only elected in 2010 and already I’ve found that politicians are sometimes discouraged from exploring and investigating complex issues because they’re expected to stay tethered to a dominant ideology and not stray far from the stock replies to difficult questions.
‘I’m in no doubt that Rotherham is not an isolated case, and the same kind of abuse is happening right now in towns and cities across the country.
‘If we’re going to save a lost generation from having childhood innocence ripped from them, then we need to stop obsessing about multiculturalism and reform children’s services now.’
Mr Danczuk said that in too many councils, ‘management exists in a bubble’ and espouse views ‘where political correctness and cultural sensitivity are more important than child rape’.
‘Managers become more interested in ticking boxes in diversity training than protecting children,’ he said. ‘This is dogma for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Common sense is not on the menu.’
Last week former Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane admitted he did not do enough to speak up about child abuse in his Rotherham seat because he was ‘a Guardian-reading liberal Leftie’ who did not want to ‘rock the multicultural community boat’.
But yesterday the MP, who stepped down two years ago after being found guilty of expenses fraud, revealed he had criticised Muslims who supported terrorism – and was threatened with the sack by the then Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw.
He had called on Muslims in the UK to choose between the ‘British way or the way of the terrorists’ after a 24-year-old from South Yorkshire tried to bomb Israelis in a Tel Aviv bar in 2003.
The former minister said he was forced to agree to a ‘grovelling climb-down’ because he was warned his remarks could upset community relations.
Mr MacShane had planned to say it was ‘time for the elected and community leaders of British Muslims to make a choice: the British way, based on political dialogue and non-violent protests, or the way of the terrorists against which the whole democratic world is uniting.’
‘Jack Straw spent an inordinate amount of time cossetting his Muslim constituents in Blackburn,’ he said. ‘He had brought in an official from the Muslim Council of Britain to advise the FCO on outreach to Islamist outfits like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
‘To attack their values was heresy. I was told I was close to being fired as a minister unless I signed some grovelling climb-down which, as a coward, I did.’