Archive for February, 2015

Rotherham: a case study in the laws of political mob dynamics

Saturday, February 7th, 2015

Paul Lakin and Mahroof Hussain: a combined 28 years of loyal service to the people of Rotherham and to the Labour Party

 

I recently wrote of my terror at the prospect of a mob in full flow. On Wednesday I witnessed one first hand. It wasn’t as terrifying as a gang of religious thugs stoning to death a gay man who’d had the temerity to survive being thrown from a seven-story building, but it was frightening in its own context nonetheless. Seven decent, honourable people doing righteous public service for very little reward were hounded out of office in Rotherham, by a mob whipped up by a partial government report that has condemned the very people who had finally started to get a grip on the chaos and confusion that has hurt so many in that town.

Over the last 30 years, I suppose it’s possible I’ve met a braver politician with more integrity than Paul Lakin but I can’t recall one and I’ve shaken the hand of Nelson Mandela. If you think that’s hyperbole you’ve never had a friend who suffered sexual abuse from the age of eight and seen her shake uncontrollably at its mere recall many years later, or heard her scream out in her sleep, as I have. If you believe I don’t take sexual abuse seriously enough then stop reading now, I can’t help you and you will learn nothing here.

Paul Lakin and his team rolled up their sleeves when many others headed for the hills, and they were making good progress. Lakin was the Leader of Rotherham Borough Council from 10 September 2014 until Wednesday 4 February 2015. It was the interregnum between the Jay report and this week’s Casey report, shall we say? During those 146 days he put his heart, soul and considerable personal capital into serving the people of Rotherham who are today worse off for his absence as their council leader. Among their number are many survivors and victims of child sexual abuse.

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A good man put his words into action.

Friday, February 6th, 2015

Councillor Paul Lakin, then Leader of Rotherham Council, addressed a meeting of the full Council on Wednesday 10 September 2014. Given this week’s parliamentary statement by Pickles, it is worth setting out what Paul said in full. Some people say he was in denial. Nigel Farage alleges, libellously, that he and his cabinet were complicit in sexual abuse. Let’s have a look shall we? Interestingly, when he had finished his statement the entire room applauded including the full contingent of UKIP Councillors, 10 of them I believe, and the motion which formalised it was passed without opposition. I watched them all put their hands up. Paul said:

‘The people of Rotherham have been let down badly, and for too many years, by several agencies in this town, over the sexual abuse and exploitation of many of our children and young people.

‘Those children had the right to expect better of us, and we failed them. The Council accepts its responsibility and its full share of the blame for that failure, and I want to start by placing on the record, on behalf of the whole Council, our sincere and unreserved apology, to all the victims and their families, for the suffering they have endured over the years.

‘I am – we are – deeply, deeply sorry.

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