The report by Sir Eric Pickles on electoral fraud , with his criticism of the police for failure to pursue investigations with sufficient vigour, fits into a pattern of establishment cowardice when dealing with issues that have a minority ethnic or religious dimension. The initial dilatory response to the child sex scandals in Huddersfield, Dewsbury, Rochdale and Rotherham would be another example, as would the slow response to the early warnings of the ‘Trojan horse’ Islamic takeover of schools in Birmingham.
Actually, cowardice on the part of the establishment is the wrong diagnosis. A more accurate description of the condition is ‘contempt’ on its part. It is evidence of a wider culture of low expectations. We might sum this despicable attitude up thus: It is because these minorities are not considered our equals and certainly not up to our own exacting standards, that we have to tolerate their dodgy electoral arrangements. They are not really like us, so we won’t interfere with their systematic grooming and exploitation of young and vulnerable women (whom we consider as even more worthy of our contempt). And so on, as different and lower standards are expected.
It is rarely explicit, more often subliminal, but never the less evidence of a deep seated racism.
Let me hazard another such example of this profoundly unhealthy attitude: our tolerance of Sharia tribunals; which substantially disadvantage the rights of women in cases of divorce and inheritance.
We no longer stand for such treatment for our own daughters, but we turn a blind eye on such treatment for less fortunate daughters. We hide behind the excuse –the fiction even – that these are entirely voluntary arrangements and that justice can always be had on application to our courts.
What could be considered ‘voluntary’ in the arrangements of a young woman, sometimes even unable to speak our native language, cowed by family and community, and whose only spokesman might be an entirely unelected ‘community leader’?
Earlier this year the Home Secretary, now our Prime Minister, appointed Professor Mona Siddiqui to look into the application of Sharia. I hope her report won’t be a whitewash, because tolerating different standards of justice for separate communities is a potent example of our contempt for them.