Whilst supporters of UKIP were yelling from their rooftops this week as an independence supporting foster family had their three children removed because of their political allegiance, others were left unsure what to think.
The argument from Rotherham councils point of view, was that fostering multi-ethnic children was askance to their views on British independence; a point of view which is almost sensible enough to sound plausible, unless subjected to further scrutiny. Imagine the outrage for example if a council saw fit to remove three children who were being brought up by atheist parents, because their spiritual allegiance leaned towards the secular rather than the ethereal.
The principle remains the same, but the most frightening aspect of it is, without meaning to become too dramatic, it creates a very Orwellian situation in which the state has more of a say over the relationship between a parent and their children than the parents themselves.
Again, this is almost an inarguable point, which is what adds to the complexities of this issue. A man may think that it’s perfectly acceptable to get drunk and beat his children, or to teach his children to throw stones at Indian owned newsagents, or that it’s acceptable to rape a woman if she is dressed a certain way. The state would rightly intervene at each of these points, at one stage or another, and decide that the climate in which this child is being brought up is not suitable for their development into productive and law-abiding citizens of this nation.
Both sides are equally impermeable. The social worker who attempted to step over this line may be lauded as foolish by those on one side of the argument but praised as courageous on the other. Neither side is right or wrong.
One day, the foster parents of these three children would have to explain their political views to them, and why they felt like they were actually present in the country because of lax immigration laws that UKIP seek to re-establish. Only the short-sighted would suggest that this is a racist view from a racist party, and one would assume that the vitriolic backlash that has surfaced is an overly violent reaction to the label of “racist” that the party has struggled with from day one.
This is not the English Defence League, with their violent protests in the street and their inexcusable acts of violence against those from other cultures. This is a bona fide political party with an ever increasing following. However odious you may find their views, the point of a democracy is that they have the right to express them and even campaign for them. The fact that they are not the ruling party should show the country that whilst it may be a legitimate view, it is not one shared by the majority.
The social worker in question should be asked to explain her actions, and they had better be convincing, but I don’t feel that she deserves the public lambasting that she is receiving. The media have taken this issue and run a long way with it. As have UKIP; suggesting that it is a fundamental misunderstanding of their policies. I’d be inclined to agree, but I think this is almost their fault. If they were clearer with their campaigns, and did a better job of explaining the motives behind their slogans, then the confusion would not be present and the misunderstanding would not have occurred.
Sadly, the situation does not have an easy answer. You could easily argue that a parents job is simply to educate those in their charge, so that when they’re adults they’re well-informed enough to make their own decisions. For a Roman Catholic to indoctrinate their child into that faith is equally as heinous as suggesting that a child should follow the political allegiances of their parents. Unfortunately, the council have opened up a can of worms, because whatever the eventual fate of the children, it will certainly raise questions in their minds. The foster parents could come out of it as shining examples of parenthood if when asked, “why did they take us away,” they turned and said, “we hold certain political views that they didn’t believe it, we simply argued that our political views don’t affect us as people or as parents.” This is almost the best education they can give the children, explaining to them that they are entitled to believe whatever they wish and that the United Kingdom will not discriminate against them for holding such beliefs, rather they will be encouraged to have their voice heard as part of the democratic process.
This is an excellent lesson to be learned, and whether Rotherham, or indeed UKIP intended this when the situation arose, this is the only satisfactory conclusion. Anything else will simply strengthen the resolve of those who seek to fracture the UK as well as the resolve of those who seek to silence UKIP and other political dissenters.