Simon Danczuk says unhealthy style of politics obsessed with ‘looking after your own’ fuelled culture of cover-up in child sex abuse cases
An unhealthy brand of politics “imported” from Pakistan is partly to blame for the cover-up of mass child abuse in Rotherham and other British cities, a campaigning MP has claimed.
Simon Danczuk, who helped expose a pattern of grooming of white teenage girls by men from a Pakistani background in Rochdale, where he is the Labour MP, said a culture of intimidation and closing of ranks within parts of the Asian community had mired politics in towns and cities across northern England for years.
He said Asian councillors were under constant pressure from the community to “conform” and other politicians acquiesced for fear of being accused of racism, failing to face up to evidence of abuse as a result.
Last week a scathing inquiry report said there had been a “blatant” failure of leadership from politicians and council officials in Rotherham over the sexual abuse of at least 1,400 children over 16 years.
The Rotherham scandal and a series of cases in towns including Rochdale highlighted how evidence of Pakistani men targeting white girls for abuse was repeatedly played down for fear of accusations of racism.
Mr Danczuk said the elements of Pakistani political culture itself were partly to blame for the cover-up.
“There are cultural issues around the way politics are done in the Asian community which have to change,” he said.
He said he had personally come under pressure from Asian councillors and members of the community for speaking out as well as being warned by prominent figures in his party.
He pointed to the way in which two Muslim councillors in Rochdale had provided character references for one of the perpetrators of the Rochdale abuse.
“Politics are done differently in Pakistan, it is a cultural difference we have imported some of that into some of these northern towns and cities and I think we have to face up to the fact that we can’t carry on doing politics like that.
“It is not healthy and the direct consequence is that we end up having to tackle issues like has been faced in Rotherham.”
He described it as “a looking after your own” within the Asian community which other politicians had accepted.
“Pressure was applied, that’s what will have happened to Denis MacShane and he went along with it,” he said, referring to comments last week from the disgraced former MP for Rotherham who said he had shied away from the issue because he was a “Guardian reading liberal leftie”.
But Mr Danczuk added: “Being an Asian councillor isn’t an easy job compared to being a white councillor, the pressure on some of the Asian councillors is immense.
“They will get phone up at midnight, the amount of casework compared to white areas is completely different, the community almost owns you – you are expected to deliver or they will vote you out.”
He added: “It is a mild form of intimidation – if you don’t conform you will be voted out.”
Mr Danczuk called for his party to carry out its own inquiry into who knew what about the abuse and when.
His outspoken remarks came amid claims that prominent Labour Party figures attempted to silence the few politicians who spoke out about the issue.
Ann Cryer, the former MP for Keighley, said she had come under constant pressure from the “politically correct brigade” when she raised the issue.
Ann Cryer said that Ken Livingstone, the former Mayor of London, was among those who had challenged her for speaking about the issue.
Meanwhile support is growing among MPs for a change in the law to allow elected Police and Crime Commissioners to be removed from office by voters.
It follows the refusal of Shaun Wright, the PCC for South Yorkshire who was responsible for children’s services in Rotherham from 2005 to 2010, to stand down from his current role despite pressure from Labour and ministers including David Cameron
Keith Vaz, chairman of the influential Commons Home Affairs Committee, said there was now a strong case for a change in legislation.
He also said the committee will be reviewing its earlier inquiry into child sexual exploitation and is almost certain to summon Mr Wright to give evidence.
Meanwhile it was reported that more than 100 babies were born as a result of girls being raped in Rotherham.
Sarah Champion, the current Rotherham MP, said one of the most upsetting aspects of the scandal was that babies born to some victims were taken away from them and their mothers will never see them again – something she said “spoke volumes” about how victims were treated.
There were also claims that police are planning a wave of arrests in cities such as Manchester as child abuse inquiries reach a new phase.