All posts by IRBF

24Jan/17

Should We Be Worried About…Hard Brexit?

Brexit, it’s everywhere; Brexit means Brexit, Hard Brexit, Soft Brexit, Red White and Blue Brexit. On January 17th Theresa May acknowledged that leaving the EU would involve, as she called it, “trade-offs”, and indicated some of the choices she would make. She will pursue a Hard Brexit  and her Gov’t will be taking the United Kingdom out of the Single Market and the European Courts (remember her history as Home Secretary?).

So Hard Brexit it is (or as it has been re-branded, Clean Brexit).

But should we be worried about a Hard Brexit?

No-one has much of a clue what the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with the EU might look like. For a UK negotiation to be successful, it needs willing and constructive co-operation on both sides.  But, as we have seen from the rhetoric coming out from other EU leaders; Boris Johnson and May seemingly intent on upsetting and insulting the EU, this does not seem likely.  The primary intention of the EU in the negotiation process is unlikely to be benign for the UK, as it will seek to make sure that the UK does not get a better deal outside the EU than as a full member, in order to deter other states from exiting.  The EU will accept the short term negative impact of decreased trade with Britain in exchange for the long term benefit of continuing to exist as the EU.  Another factor that clouds the negotiations are two critical elections, one in France (where the far right Front National are making gains) and in Germany. Both Merkel and Hollande have consistently offered a hardline toward the UK over Brexit. 

But one thing is certain, it will affect Sterling. As everyone who has been following the Brexit debacle knows, immediately upon the announcement of the referendum result last June, Sterling nose-dived.

And has since barely recovered.

And Sterling continued to take hits EVERY TIME May or the Brexiteers hinted at a Hard Brexit.

Opinion is divided amongst economists as to whether Sterling will experience another Flash Crash on the triggering of Article 50. Some believe that the Pound will fall further until it reaches parity with the Dollar, whilst others believe that Sterling is now undervalued and will recover (but not to pre-referendum levels). It should be noted that, after May confirmed the type of Brexit the UK would undertake, Sterling improved (aided mainly by inflation and the weak Dollar).

TIMELINE OF STERLING POST BREXIT

1. June 24: Sterling collapses more than 12 per cent to a 30-year low after Leave win confirmed.

2. August 4: Bank of England launches QE programme to prop up the economy and cuts the interest rate further.

3. October 6: “Flash crash” — pound collapses to $1.14 in the space of a few minutes.

4. November 3: High Court’s Article 50 ruling against government boosts the pound.

5. January 9: Pound fluctuates again as May confirms Hard Brexit.

British citizens have not yet felt the full impact of a devalued currency – unlike British pensioners living in other EU countries like France and Spain that felt it in their pockets the very next day after the referendum. But this is set to change. 

The first inflation statistics after the ref result, from the Office for National Statistics back in September showed the annual inflation rate rising from 0.6% to 1%, its highest for almost two years. The ONS said, at that time, that the cost of living had yet to be much affected by the drop in the value of the pound seen since the EU referendum, but the Bank of England, the International Monetary Fund and City economists believe that inflation will rise above the government’s 2% target in early 2017 and will reach at least 3% by the end of the year.

And experts are expecting more depressing news in January 2017:

“Inflation is expected to have finally reached the Reserve Bank’s 1% to 3% target band when official figures are released on Thursday.” More

The fact that inflation, so far, has not risen to the same levels as the devaluation of Sterling (inflation always follows a currency devaluation) can be attributed to a number of reasons. Businesses always try to keep short-term currency fluctuations away from the consumer, by buying in bulk, at a fixed exchange rate etc. But these measures are running out, hence the expected inflation rise. Other factors involved was the price war between the major supermarkets and the same with petrol station forecourts, but again these are coming to an end (The price of Crude has already increased, and we buy Crude in Dollars and this will, as always conflate the inflation). 

Obviously, any inflation will hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.  And this in a country that has seen the worse fall in living standards in more than a century. 

Typical working households were £345 a year worse off than before the economic crisis, according to the ONS in 2016 – the same as the previous year. Middle-income working-age households saw their incomes grow by just 1% last year. Pensioner households were £656 better off after a 3.1% rise in median incomes, from £21,114 to £21,770. More

Also, more than 2.3 million families are living in fuel poverty in England – the equivalent of 10% of households, according to government statistics. And again this situation will only get worse when the inflation really starts to kick in. And all this comes at a cost to Government finances.

And Brexit is happening at a time when the working poor and people on benefits are having to resort to using Food Banks at record levels.

One of the cruelest ironies with Brexit is that the 2 demographics that voted for it in the highest numbers, the elderly and the poorly educated, are most likely to suffer the most from it.

It is pretty much a certainty that the Pound will take another hit on the triggering of Article 50. The one thing that is certain from any type of Brexit is that inflation will increase, on a Hard Brexit even more so than a Soft. And if we have to resort to World Trade Organisation rules, that will mean tariffs, and again that will conflate an already bad situation for millions in the UK.

The Economy

So far, since the referendum result, the UK economy has defied expectations and remained relatively strong – much to the delight of Brexiteers and the believers of the ‘Project Fear’ rhetoric from the Leave camp.

Indeed, official figures have shown the economy was outstripped only by the US among the large economies last year after growth in the third quarter was upgraded to 0.6%.  Another surprising result was that consumer spending actually increased after the referendum result.

But behind these figures lies a disturbing reality. Even though UK incomes have been stagnant, consumer credit grew at an annual rate of 10.8 per cent in November, according to Bank of England figures, the highest growth rate since 2005. In short, this consumer boom has been built on an unsustainable level of credit. 

Twice before, and both times under Tory governments we have seen this – the Barber Boom of the early 1970s and the Lawson Boom of the late 1980s and BOTH times the economy became overstimulated, creating a bubble which then burst.  And both times led to economic chaos. Although there are signs that this consumer boom is already slowing, sales in December 2016 were actually down from the previous year as the inflation starts to hit people’s pockets. This may prevent a credit bubble burst, but as the UK’s economic growth has been led by spending, it will impact growth further. 

Another reason put forward for the higher than expected growth after the ref has been that the collapse in the value of Sterling has helped exports. This is true, exports have increased…except the Trade Deficit has not reduced, in fact it actually increased. 

The gap between the UK’s imports and exports hit £4.7bn in August, up from £2.2bn in July, the ONS reported in its second monthly trade bulletin since the Brexit vote. The deficit with the EU grew by more than £1bn to £8.4bn. UK manufacturers have reported a rise in both domestic and overseas demand, but imports are now more expensive as sterling depreciates more. The ONS stated there was “only limited evidence so far” that the fall in the pound’s value had led to a “marked increase in UK exports”.

One of the reasons for the poor export increase is due to the fact that the UK’s economy is not diverse enough. The UK does sell more services abroad than are imported – but this is not enough to counter the bigger deficit in the value of the goods sold abroad, compared with the value of the goods imported.

 Jobs

There have already been job losses associated with Brexit. Hewden: The machinery rental business went into administration blaming the Brexit vote for poor trading. Rivington Biscuits, the maker of Pink Panther wafers, has gone into administration, blaming the fall in the value of the pound following the Brexit vote. And more, with more businesses expected to fail over the coming months and years.

By far the two industries most at risk from Brexit are the Financial/Banking industries and the UK Car Manufacturing industries. Indeed, Ford have already threatened that they may have to close plants in the UK. And Nissan, after stating that they will build the Qashqai model at their Sunderland plant even with the ref result have now decided, during the 2017 Davos meeting that they will have to reconsider the plants viability after a Hard Brexit.  The cold irony of this is that both these companies are located in towns (Sunderland, Dagenham, Bridgend) that actually voted to Leave. The car industries face a double whammy from a Hard Brexit, one with the Tariffs on completed vehicles, and another to the supply chain for the parts needed to actually make the cars. The numbers employed in these industries are in the thousands.

The UK financial industries are also set to cause unemployment. During the Davos meeting in January 2017 the UBS Chairman Axel Weber said that about 1,000 of the Swiss bank’s 5,000 employees in London could be affected by Brexit, while HSBC Chief Executive Stuart Gulliver said his bank will relocate staff responsible for generating around a fifth of its UK-based trading revenue to Paris. Germany’s Handelsblatt newspaper also reported that Goldman Sachs is considering halving its London workforce to 3,000 and moving key operations to New York and continental Europe, particularly Frankfurt, where it could move up to 1,000 staff. More.  This will be a massive hit, not only to the thousands employed by the banks, but also to the UK’s Tax receipts, 12% of the total comes from the City.

Three MILLION jobs in Britain depend on trade with the EU, with many economists reckoning that the true figure is actually higher. Obviously not all the the jobs will be lost, trade will continue after Brexit, But more job losses are inevitable, more so on a Hard Brexit.

Brexit And Rights

One of the reasons Theresa May has used for her stance on a Hard Brexit is for the UK to leave the jurisdiction of the EU Courts. For many years the UK tabloids have been filled with lurid stories of foreign criminals being allowed to remain in the UK due to ECHR judgements. Take this screaming headline from the Sun for example:

“Britain has lost more than 200 cases in the European Court of Human Rights, at
a cost of £4.4million to taxpayers. Strasbourg judges have ruled in favour of — and awarded compensation to — murderers, terrorists, paedophiles and rapists.”

But these stories, gleefully leaped upon by the gutter press are the minority, the EU Courts have actually protected UK citizens on many. many occasions. When we leave the EU Courts, no UK citizen will have recourse there. Here are 11 times the ECHR changed the UK for the better.  And most recently, May’s flagship ‘Snoopers Charter’ legislation was deemed illegal due to EU Human Rights legislation.

And it is not only legal rights that have been protected, embedded in EU Legislation are rights that govern employment, health and safety, privacy, the list goes on and on. We risk losing all these protections on a Hard Brexit. Especially as the current UK chancellor of the Exchequer has threatened to turn the UK into a low rights tax haven on a Hard Brexit. 

 

Should we be worried about a Hard Brexit? Damn right we should be worried, the potential (inevitable) economic chaos will only serve to make the majority poorer. Job losses are a given, our Public Services are under threat, our Rights are threatened, our standing in the world threatened, our security threatened. Putin is lurking in the shadows, rubbing his hands in glee at Brexit. President Trump’s rhetoric is becoming more and more isolationist. The EU is hardening its stance toward the UK. Of  course, this is not an exhaustive list of the potential dangers of a Hard Brexit, and no one actually knows what will happen when Article 50 is triggered in March. It is certain that the current Govt have no mandate for a Hard Brexit, no mandate to put the UK at such a great risk.  The referendum was advisory only and if the polls are to be believed, a great many Brexit voters now regret their vote. The referendum was Cameron’s attempt at finally ending the internecine Conservative Party civil war over the EU – it blew up in his face badly.  The Leave campaign was defined by its lies and reliance on people’s emotions rather than the facts, people were sold a lie.

And remember the rise in Hate Crimes after the referendum? Imagine what could happen on a Hard Brexit and everyone suffers for it.


When Brexit does not deliver what so many Brexiteers think it will deliver, who will they turn against next?

 

 

 

 

 

23Jan/17

Resistance – An East End Girls Story

I will try to keep this post short-ish and to the point. It probably the most important post I will ever write so I hope you will indulge me.

I’m 53 years of age, from the East End, grew up with everyone around me still living WWII from living among rubble (yep it was still around in the 60s), to UXBs still being found, to older people talking constantly about the blitz and Moseley. At around 8 years of age I was sitting with my Grandfather watching All Our Yesterdays and he started to cry. He said to me ‘this is where hate leads, it must never happen again and its up to your generation to make sure it never happens again’ I took that seriously, and I often wondered what I would have done had I lived in Germany faced with the rise of the Nazis, and even at that age concluded that I would have been a part of the quiet under the radar resistance. I thought later that was a romantic childhood musing and nothing more.

In the 1970s Idi Amin expelled the Asian people from his country and they came here. People were picketing Heathrow airport with signs telling the Asian refugees to go home, telling them they were not wanted. This was a time when white women who dared to walk along hand in hand with a man of a different culture/colour/religion were openly spat at, called a ‘whore’, told things like ‘your fanny must be fucking rotting’ and all done in front of children. The national front were a rabble running around causing chaos. People thought it funny to leave gollies on the desks of black or mixed race people at work, and if they didn’t laugh they were told they had a chip on their shoulder. Most did not complain and rarely were they stuck up for. Asian people had to endure being called ‘Gungadin’ or ‘wallah’ or other such names overhung from a perception of a Raj and ‘bud bud’ noises were quite normal to hear being thrown toward them. People from Chinese Asia were supposed to laugh at and join in the fun when fully grown adults slanted their own eyes to them and chanted such hilarious quips as ‘I’m a ching chong chinaman, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhshole’

In the late 80s/early 90s after the Berlin wall fell I began to notice news reports of neo nazis from those countries which has once been taken over by the nazis and then taken behind the iron curtain. It seemed that the nazi ideology, defeated in the minds of some, had been merely in some suspended animation. Again, I was taken back to my grandfather’s words and my romantic musings about being a resistance hero. We had Margaret Thatcher who shifted politics to the right. We had the unions stomping everywhere shifting opinion away from the left. I began talking to people about this rise and subtle political shift and was always met either with sniggers, or advice to ‘get a grip, life’s too short, stop living in the past’. I more or less had a decade where I forgot all about this, where thankfully laws began to tackle the kind of abuses people who were not WASP males had to endure. We had TV programmes like Roots, films like Ghandi, the apartheid regime in SA and support growing for Nelson Mandela all together showing the kind of abuses those we had been happy to taunt had had to suffer. Attititudes began to shift. Children were born into a country where they were more likely to call out and tackle racism and openly reject it.

For a while things seemed to be going forward. And then in the noughties UKIP began to grow. Farage took over. At first he was not known, only appearing now and again in small news items. There was no defining period when he was suddenly propelled forward in the media. It seemed like a gradual transition, a drip drip drip, a subtle rise. Jean-Marie Le Penn in France became a ‘thing’ in our media, dismissed as a buffoon. And suddenly, around 6/7 years ago Farage and his message of anti immigration and anti immigrants was everywhere. The country laughed at him as they did Le Penn. But they were not talking to us, they were directing their very simple message to those WASP males who felt their rights to laugh at, abuse and generally lord it over anyone who was not like them had been ripped from them unfairly, this is the ‘common sense’ they speak of. The words ‘political correctness’ began to be used as a weapon, a term which denoted a stripping away of some perceived moral rights to speak and laugh as they wished. While we were laughing at Farage those people were taking him and Le Penn seriously, they were listening. They began to feel emboldened. Again I started to talk to people and try to stop them laughing at UKIP and Farage, even those who would instinctively agree with my liberal stance laughed at me and told me it wasn’t going to happen. When the by election came in Clacton (I know the area well) I was met with ridicule when I said the predictions of 62% for Carswell was right. When he won I was told it was a one off, a cut off Hamlet which didn’t represent the rest of the country. Again my mind went back to my Grandfather’s words. I knew we would Brexit. I heard the mutterings of those people Farage had been seducing and cultivating for several decades rising, those same people who had abused white women in the street, picketed Heathrow, the ‘Enoch was Right’ brigade.

And here we are. I am still being told to ‘get a grip’. I am being told now that it is my fault that the far right across Europe is on the edge of taking over Europe again. It is my fault because I denied those people the right to abuse me, as a woman, my friends and neighbours who are not WASP, I am told now that I am a neo nazi because I am a liberal I am therefore a socialist and Hitler was a national ‘socialist’ and therefore on the liberal left of the political spectrum. I am now the enemy. We are now at a watershed. We sit on the edge. Now is the time my romantic childhood musings of being a part of a resistance against extremism have become a reality. We all have to make a choice now. We all have to decide whether to fight the monster of the far right neo nazis who not only have teeth and a voice, but have legs and agency. The neo nazis are organized, they are united (Farage wasnt joking when he said after his resignation that he was going to spend time in Europe encouraging other countries to leave, what he meant was he is going to unite other neo nazi groups). Now we have Trump. The puppetmaster of the far right. An unstable narcissist who is breathing life into the never defeated but sleeping nazis worldwide. Farage is with him now, in the bossom of right wing US media. The Lord Haw Haw of modern times. I know what I am going to do. All I ask now is that everyone here ask themselves what they are going to do. There are 2 choices. 1. Give in and appease 2. Resist.

Author Anonymous: EDIT: I AM NOT GINA MILLER, I CANNOT AFFORD 24/7 PERSONAL PROTECTION FOR MYSELF AND MY CHILDREN. I AM HAPPY FOR PEOPLE TO SHARE MY WORDS, AS LONG AS MY NAME IS TAKEN OUT AND I CAN REMAIN ANONYMOUS.

Reposted from Remain Visual

19Jan/17

Britain First’s Paul Golding Inciting Violence on Video After Prison Release?

In a speech worthy of the best TV evangelist or indeed street preacher proclaiming hell fire and damnation and the reckoning, Paul Golding steps onto his video pulpit to issue forth a rallying cry, a cry to punish all who oppose him. They (lefties, non BF Christians, Muslims and Immigrants ) shall all get what’s coming, for daring to oppose him, they will suffer his and his minions wrath.

Edited version of his epic rant:

All joking aside, surely this is incitement to violence? Or even terrorism?

Whether or not Tommy Mair, the far right terrorist who murdered Jo Cox MP had actual links to Britain First or not remains unknown. But Golding must realise, or even hope, that this is what his latest video diatribe could lead to. At the time of writing this, the video has been viewed and shared over 2000 times on Facebook.

Maybe, just maybe, if enough people report the video (which can be found on their Facebook page and Youtube channel), the authorities may do something.

The contact for the Home Office to report Paul Golding for incitement to violence/terrorism can be found here.

Home Office

Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street
London
SW1P 4DF

19Jan/17

Anti-Semitic ‘Alt Right’ Blogger Quits After Wife is Doxxed as Jewish

The far right-wing blog ‘The Right Stuff’ creator has quit over the revelation that his wife is Jewish it was reported in the Jerusalem Post.

‘Mike Enoch’, was doxxed (the leaking of personal details online) as a certain Mike Peinovich, a website developer from New York. Peinovich was also co-host on the infamous Neo-Nazi podcast  “The Daily Shoah” on which he regularly talked about killing Jews, deporting Muslims, people of African descent and other Neo-Nazi rhetoric.

Enoch (name invented in homage to Enoch Powell), has long been considered one of the three most influential figures in the “alt-right” (fascist) movement along with Daily Stormer creator Andrew Anglin and Richard Spencer – he of the infamous Nazi salute celebration of Trumps election win.

Peinovich’s personal details were released were earlier in the week by rival website 8chan, briefly working alongside antifascist activists

‘Enoch’ admitted that the information released about him was correct in a message in left on a private forum on the website The Right Stuff  (released by the Salon).

“As I am sure you all know, I was doxxed and an ill advised attempt to fool the media about my identity led me to not talk to you people and to try to simply ride it out by being silent. This was irresponsible and a disservice to all of you. Yes my wife is who they say she is, I won’t even bother denying it, I won’t bother making excuses. If this makes you want to leave the movement, or to have nothing to do with TRS, then I understand. Don’t lie for me. Don’t try to defend me to those attacking me. Don’t jeopardize your own reputation by defending things that you don’t think you can. I could try to explain my whole life for the last ten years to you but what difference at this point would it make. Life isn’t perfect.”

He later resigned in disgrace from both the podcast and The Right Stuff.

 

 

 

09Jan/17

Should we be worried about…Trumps Tweets?

Trump first joined Twitter back in 2009, and almost immediately people started to notice just how bizarre his Tweeting habits were. It was as if he had hooked up his internal monologue to his Twitter account and just let it loose. His Tweets range in content from the…

Deranged

:

Paranoid:

It was a pen, in case you were wondering

Conspiracies:

Personal Attacks:

 

And self aggrandisement:

For several years, none of this really mattered. Back when he was just a C List celeb it was seen by most as a bit of a joke…but this man will soon be POTUS, Leader of the Free World. Surely, many followers thought, not even Trump would do something so ‘unpresidented’ as to continue with these tirades when he became President Elect?

Of course we all now know that post election it was business as usual for Trump on Twitter. But should we be worried about Trumps Tweets?

Even before winning the US election, Trump was already a powerful figure, whose Tweets could and have affected people’s lives. Take the case of Lauren Batchelder, whose crime was to have the audacity to accuse trump of not respecting women.

Of course, the Tangerine Toddler would not just let that lie, off to Twitter he went to have a public tantrum and attack a private US citizen.

Then the backlash against Lauren Batchelder began. As the Washington Post noted:

“Her phone began ringing with callers leaving threatening messages that were often sexual in nature. Her Facebook and email inboxes filled with similar messages. As her addresses circulated on social media and her photo flashed on the news, she fled home to hide.

“I didn’t really know what anyone was going to do,” said Batchelder, now 19, who has never discussed her experience with a reporter until now. “He was only going to tweet about it and that was it, but I didn’t really know what his supporters were going to do, and that to me was the scariest part.”

Even a year later for Batchelder,  “the abuse continues. Five days before the election, she received a Facebook message that read: “Wishing I could f—ing punch you in the face. I’d then proceed to stomp your head on the curb and urinate in your bloodied mouth and i know where you live, so watch your f—ing back punk.””

Trump supporters on Twitter can be pretty terrifying: take, for example, these Tweets made during Meryl Streep’s marvelous take-down of Trump at the Golden Globe Awards:

What a nice man. Luckily for Streep she can afford protection. Others are not so lucky.

Today, Trump has more than 17 million followers on Twitter.  The fact that even when just a candidate and TV personality, he deemed it acceptable to attack a young woman who criticised him is bad enough, but what effects are Trumps’s Tweets having in the wider real world, now that he has become the President Elect?

Trump watchers will probably remember that time he Tweeted about General Motors.

This single Tweet caused Shares in General Motors Co to fall 0.7%

And he did it again with Toyota:

Once again this had an immediate effect. Shares in Toyota fell about 0.4%. All this is shows a potential conflict of interest for businessman Trump. With one Tweet he can manipulate the markets, damage rivals and harm business reputations.

Then there is the delicate world International Relations, surely even the Umpa Lumpa Elect would not be so irresponsible to harm them with a Tweet?

Trump had already caused a diplomatic firestorm by breaking protocol with a telephone call to Taiwan’s leader. This actually led to China’s foreign ministry lodging a complaint with the United States. What is even more disturbing is that, according to people close to Trump, he had been planning to make the call all along, in full knowledge of the potential for a diplomatic backlash from China.

And then, weeks later, he turned to his favorite social media platform, again:

Original Tweet actually said “Unpresidented’ much to the hilarity of the Twitterverse

The Trump decided to Tweet this, even though the US military had already announced  it had reached an understanding with China for the return of the underwater glider. But Trump had to make it seem that he had a hand in this with a follow up Tweet.

Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook confirmed that “through direct engagement with Chinese authorities, we have secured an understanding that the Chinese will return the UUV to the United States,” according to USA Today.

But the Chinese Defence Ministry lamented the “inappropriate” choice in the US to “dramatise the issue”. A situation worsened by the Tweets.

Then there are the barbs he keeps firing at Mexico about the ‘Wall’:

 

Tweets that have angered both the President and an Ex-President of Mexico.

This is pretty awful, undiplomatic stuff from a man who will soon become the most powerful in the world. But it becomes even more frightening when you consider, as with his call to Taiwan, that they may not be just random and ill-thought out, but deliberately planned to provoke a reaction. And, or course, it is just a coincidence that China and Mexico are two of the biggest exporters to the USA.

We mustn’t ignore his attacks upon any media that displeases the self-appointed God Emperor:

In today’s post truth world, where the truth is deemed fake news and fake news seen as the truth, these Tweets only serve to further muddy the waters. The influence that Trump has; the ability to shape the conscience of his followers; is truly frightening. Never forget that Control of the Media is one of the 14 Points of Fascism.

Should we be worried about Trumps Tweets? We would say a resounding yes. His influence on social media is astounding. The fact is, his Tweets have very real and lasting real world effects that will only become more enhanced when he finally is sworn in as the next President of the United States. He is surrounded by advisers, and yet still appears to post personally and without consideration. Is this how he will attempt to manage his Presidency?

Are Trumps Tweets really as random as they seem, or could they be coldly calculated to cause as much disruption and distraction as possible, all the while feeding Trumps immense ego?

Do Trumps Tweets show a deeper, psychological problem? Who knows? But we ARE worried.

He could, of course just be trolling the world. Now that would be impressive!

¡No Pasarán!

 

28Feb/16

Rotherham Grooming: Inconvenient Facts EXPOSED

Rotherham grooming. We really should have read the Jay Report.

This week three brothers were given a 19 to 35 year imprisonment sentence for their abhorrent abuse of vulnerable young girls in Rotherham. A sensitive topic, and one that in no way detracts from the stories of the victims, is concern over the huge damage the press coverage of this case has caused the Muslim community as a whole and the Pakistani heritage community in particular. There is also a feeling of intimidation to acquiesce to demands to apologise and a fear that questioning the narrative will be portrayed as trying to reduce the significance of the crimes. Muslims stand united in condemnation of the criminals and in sympathy for the innocent victims. The only issue we have is the unbalanced furore over the Pakistani criminals and the virtual silence over the non-Muslims who have committed the same crimes.

The case began with a story in The Times in 2013 which forced authorities to take action to protect the victims of abuse who they had been aware of for some years but had failed to protect. The initial case involved a gang of Asian men who had been abusing young white girls they had picked up from the streets of Rotherham, many of them in social care and made vulnerable by a lack of adult supervision. The exposure of the initial gang led to other gangs being exposed and further victims of “on-street grooming” coming forward.
News coverage of gangs of Pakistani men abusing white girls exploded and the media constrained the story to the particular type of grooming the Pakistani men were involved in. To anyone following the story, it looked as though Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) was something unique to the Pakistani community. Just as we have seen with terrorism; repeated calls were made for the community as a whole to apologise and take responsibility. Muslim organisations such as the MCB and the Ramadan Foundation dutifully accepted collective responsibility on our behalf with press releases such as: “Child Abuse in Rotherham: We Cannot Let This Happen Again”[1] and by saying things like “Until British Pakistanis accept that this is a problem for our community we will not be able to eradicate this evil. Burying our head in the sand as the usual response is not good enough.”[2]
Rotherham Council commissioned an independent report into CSE in Rotherham which was led by Professor Alexis Jay and in August 2014 she published her “Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham 1997 – 2013”.[3]

In an epic failure for the Muslim community it seems we did not actually read the report and instead have relied on the way it has been presented by the media. To this day most people accept as fact that CSE is carried out by “gangs of predominantly Pakistani men.” Unchallenged for 2 years an article on the Telegraph website says all “1400 girls have been sexually abused by Asian men”.[4]
What the Jay Report actually said was:

“As has been stated many times before, there is no simple link between race and child sexual exploitation, and across the UK the greatest numbers of perpetrators of CSE are white men. The second largest category, according to the Children’s Commissioner’s report, are those from a minority ethnic background, particularly those recorded as ‘Asian’. In Rotherham, the majority of known perpetrators were of Pakistani heritage including the five men convicted in 2010. The file reading carried out by the Inquiry also confirmed that the ethnic origin of many perpetrators was ‘Asian’. In one major case in the mid-2000s, the convicted perpetrator was Afghan.”

It is no surprise at all that the second largest group nationally after whites is a minority, who else could it be? And ‘Asian’ is the largest minority group, twice as numerous as blacks. The key point regarding Rotherham is “In Rotherham, the majority of known perpetrators were of Pakistani heritage including the five men convicted in 2010.” She is clearly referring to the tiny number of previous convictions before the story blew up and victims started coming forward in larger numbers. This is confirmed by mentioning next that the current enquiry’s reading of the case files (rather than convictions) showed that many perpetrators were Asian. Previous convictions: “majority Asian” while other cases, presumably the new unresolved cases: “many Asians”, a very unspecific term and presumably the majority were therefore not Asian or she would have said it. It is hardly surprising when the first gang to be exposed was Asian that many of the suspects she would see first were Asians.

Then in August 2015 local Sheffield paper The Star published a story titled “Majority of Rotherham child exploitation suspects are white, claims new report”.[5] In fact the data was not that new but related to the time the Jay Report was being compiled. The story quotes offender profile data that was obtained from the South Yorkshire Police and which was in a draft report presented to the Council by Rotherham Safeguarding Children’s Board.

“The number of offenders, including suspects, were mainly White (68%); 24% were Asian; 5% were from other BME communities; and 3% of offenders were female”.[6]

Not a single national newspaper reported this very illuminating data.
The data covered a key two year period between October 2012 – October 2014, that is, from before the story went public and victims started coming forward until the end of the period within which Professor Jay was collecting data for her report. She says in the Preface that “any evidence available to me up till June 2014 would be included in the report.” She claims to have had evidence pointing to there being 1,400 potential victims and alludes to having data on the ethnicity of the suspects which must surely be the same data the South Yorkshire Police had. No one can say it is an inaccuracy for her to claim that 24% of suspects being Asian is “many”, and it means the Asian community are over-represented in that sample, but it is not “the majority” or “mostly Asian” as reported by all sections of the media. This inaccuracy has been invariably understood by the public, and, in fact, has been ever since by politicians as well, to mean this is a uniquely Pakistani problem with just a few anomalous others.

The question must be: If the figures were known why were they not clearly presented in the Jay Report? And, why, when the media ran with it being a predominantly Asian phenomenon, Professor Jay made no apparent attempt to correct them?

The plot thickens

Rotherham council has been accused many times of cover-ups relating to this case.[7] In an interesting twist, the council demanded that the data showing that the majority of suspects were white be removed from the new report.[8] Not because they feared it was inaccurate, it was directly from South Yorkshire Police after all, but because “some of the data referenced could be misleading and was not telling services what they wanted to know”. Would it be misleading to have a clearer picture that the majority of perpetrators of the crime they are trying to tackle are not from the community everyone has come to expect? Surely facts are facts and the services could take them or leave them. And they said that “The data might not show enough distinction between CSE and other forms of sexual offence, for example, intra familial abuse.” Which was clearly not a very good excuse because the data specifically mentioned it was relating just to CSE.

It makes no sense whatsoever to remove from a central policy document titled “Child Sexual Exploitation – The Way Forward for Rotherham” the only reference available anywhere to the fact that 76% of perpetrators would not be as Asian as everyone would otherwise be expecting, and that 68% would in fact be white. Here’s the attendance register for the meeting http://moderngov.rotherham.gov.uk/mgMeetingAttendance.aspx?ID=13344
The chair of the Rotherham Safeguarding Children Board resigned at the meeting and his replacement said:
“Collecting accurate data about Child Sexual Exploitation is an evolving process. Partners and ourselves continue to build on our knowledge and are using available data taken at a snap shot in time, but it is anticipated the data will become over time more reflective of the needs of victims and survivors of CSE.”
Which, as the data has not resurfaced in any form whatsoever, we can take to be council speak for: “We buried it”
The South Yorkshire Police have confirmed they have 300 suspects but did not mention the racial profile data which they obviously have available and said “they would not rush into making arrests”.[9] It looks as though the world will continue to believe those 300 suspects are all Pakistani for some time to come. The police did however confirm that at least 2 suspects are serving or former Rotherham Councillors.[10]
Fear of being seen as racist?
Another key aspect of the case and one that plays into anti-Muslim propagandists’ hands is that nothing was done to protect white girls from predatory Muslim men because of a fear of being seen as racist.[11]
South Yorkshire Police have denied it had been reluctant to tackle CSE or that “ethnic origin had been a factor” in its decisions.[12] The Jay Report is used repeatedly by the media and government to back up the myth but in fact it says:
“Within the Council, we found no evidence of children’s social care staff being influenced by concerns about the ethnic origins of suspected perpetrators when dealing with individual child protection cases, including CSE.”
The only hint towards this is where the report mentions an undefined perception that some senior people wanted to “’downplay’ the ethnic dimensions of CSE”. This is nowhere near meaning people should avoid investigating or prosecuting minorities simply because they were minorities and indeed they found no evidence of that. The fact is, as mentioned above, the Jay Report emphasises that the majority of convictions in Rotherham until that date had been of Asian men and also that the council had dealt with 12 cases of forced marriage in the Asian community, an equally sensitive topic, in the first few months of 2005 alone. It seems that the idea that there was a completely hands off approach to dealing with the Asian community is not borne out by the evidence.
While it isn’t a very good excuse for not tackling a crime committed by 68% white perpetrators, it is a convenient way to shift the blame back onto the Asian community; to say fear of offending them prevented the authorities from doing their jobs. The narrative becomes: “perhaps if Asians weren’t so damn touchy these girls would have been protected”.
Are Asians over-represented nationally in child abuse?
The short answer seems to be no. The white population of the UK is 86%. The Crown Prosecution Service’s lead on child sexual abuse says that white perpetrators account for between 80 and 90% of child abuse crimes.[13] The new specific crime of “on-street grooming” is where Asians are over-represented relative to their population. This has been attributed to the night-time economy many Asians work in; takeaways and taxi driving. Asians are more often on the street so that is naturally where their crimes might occur.
No-one should try to say any child abuse crime is more or less than another because of where it takes place but that is what is being attempted. We must be more careful not to allow non-Muslims to draw a line around a specific way Muslims are committing a widely committed crime in order for them to portray us as the only ones committing that crime. If the police are tasked with tackling that form of the crime, as they have been with on-street grooming, then of course the statistics will show an over representation, Muslim organisations will start apologising again and it will all go to fuel the Islamophobic media feeding frenzy.

Reblogged from Islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] http://www.mcb.org.uk/child-abuse-in-rotherham-we-cannot-let-this-happen-again/

[2] http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/crime/pakistanis-must-face-up-to-this-grooming-evil-says-community-leader-1-7746484

[3]http://www.rotherham.gov.uk/download/downloads/id/1407/independent_inquiry_cse_in_rotherham.pdf

[4] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11059138/Rotherham-In-the-face-of-such-evil-who-is-the-racist-now.html

[5] http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/majority-of-rotherham-child-exploitation-suspects-are-white-claims-new-report-1-7392637

[6]http://moderngov.rotherham.gov.uk/documents/s100912/CSE_The_Way_Forward_2015_18%20Consultation%20Draft.pdf

[7] http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/how-rotherham-council-tried-to-cover-up-child-abuse-scandal-1-7088847

[8] http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/crime/misleading-claim-on-most-rotherham-cse-abusers-being-white-wrongly-included-in-report-1-7587779

[9] http://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/586677/Rotherham-child-abuse-scandal-300-more-suspects-identified-by-police-so-why-no-arrests

[10] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11695826/Rotherham-child-sex-abuse-300-new-suspects.html

[11] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11059138/Rotherham-In-the-face-of-such-evil-who-is-the-racist-now.html

[12] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-south-yorkshire-28934963

[13] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/03/nazir-afzal-there-is-no-religious-basis-for-the-abuse-in-rotherham

28Jan/16

Britain First is corrupting the message of the cross, and we need to claim it back

It might seem obvious that extreme right-wing party Britain First is not a Christian group. Its scaremongering policies, widely considered to be racist, are hopefully not the first thing that spring to mind when you think of Christianity.

However, Britain First seems to think otherwise. The group recently held a “Christian Patrol” in Luton, during which members brandished wooden crosses and claimed to be defending “Christian values” while handing out anti-Islam newspapers to Muslims.

Although this “Christian Patrol” and others like it have only attracted marchers in their tens, a video of the Luton march has been viewed 21 million times on Facebook. Britain First is disrupting communities, harrassing Muslim neighbours and doing so in the name of a “Christian Britain”. It’s time we said: “not in my name.”

It may seem superfluous to defend the Christian faith from such a group, but its online popularity (the Britain First Facebook page has 1,280,406 likes – more than the Labour and Conservative Party pages combined), and a quick look at historical cases of the appropriation of Christianity by far-right groups (think the Nazis and the KKK) suggest otherwise.

Britain First is a far-right and British nationalist party that was formed in 2011, as a splinter group from the BNP. It fights against immigration, multiculturalism and what it describes as the “Islamisation” of the UK. On its Wikipedia page, the group is also described as having a “Christian” ideology.

Deputy leader Jayda Fransen has declared that the UK is heading for a “civil war” between those who hold “British values” and Islamists.

In the nine-minute clip of the Luton march, Fransen argues ferociously with a Muslim man, shouting “our country, not your country. It’s a Christian country.”

When challenged, she continues, saying: “You think you can take over a town and say ‘It’s your country, you’re taking over’… not for long, see this cross? It will prevail.”

Britain First has “corrupted the message of the cross, which for us is a symbol of reconciliation, forgiveness and selfless love,” Peter Adams, a member of Luton’s St Mary’s Church, told Luton Today.

He was among a group of local Christians and Muslims who stood together to hand out flowers in a show of unity following the march.

Britain First’s “method, their provocative actions, their carrying of white crosses, very angry [and] abusive words were not the message that the church in Luton had towards our Muslim neighbours”, Adams said.

It is difficult to equate the Jesus of the Bible with the message of Britain First. Scripture calls us to welcome the orphan and the alien, and that needs to be central to Christianity, particularly in this current climate.

Speaking to Christian Today in 2014, Paul Golding, leader of Britain First, said: “Jesus Christ did use physical violence according to the Gospels in the temple in Jerusalem, and he met a very violent end. He preached love and forgiveness etc, but he also said he didn’t come to bring peace; he came to bring division and a sword, he came to bring fire upon the world to sort the world out.”

But though Jesus did clear the Temple, to take this story out of context, manipulate it and use it to justify prejudice is not OK.

Although only a few people are showing up for these “Christian patrols” at the moment, Fransen claims that membership of Britain First is “swelling by the thousands”.

The group has planned another Christian Patrol, this time through Dewsbury, which Fransen described as having “Islamic extremists coming out of the woodwork”.

The deputy leader, who is of foreign descent herself, said that, “the indigenous people in Britain don’t want their own towns turned into Muslim ghettos. It doesn’t look like Britain any more.”

Tell Mama, a charity that monitors Islamophobia in the UK, shared the concern that “these inflammatory actions continue with Britain First trying to pain themselves as ‘defenders of Christian values’, something that they are far from”.

The fear is that people who are on the receiving end of this violent action, into whose communities Britain First storm brandishing white crosses, will begin to equate this hate-filled action with Christianity.

We need to stand against their appropriation and distortion of the cross.

Follow Florence Taylor on Twitter: @Flo_Taylor