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The Labour of the Negative

By Roger Scruton, Conservative Home Thinkers' Corner

The case of the children removed from foster parents by Rotherham Social Services, on the grounds that the parents are supporters of UKIP, is now notorious. I doubt that any reader of this blog will be surprised by the facts of the case, or by the conduct of the social workers involved. But there are lessons to be drawn by conservatives that are not publicly referred to, even though publicly felt. The head of Children’s Services at Rotherham, Joyce Thacker, made it quite clear that she was acting on her own principles as well as the advice of colleagues, in making all of the following judgements: UKIP is a racist party because it is opposed to multiculturalism and urges a strict policy on immigration; councils looking for foster parents for the children that are dumped on them (especially when dumped by foreigners) should look for an appropriate ‘cultural match’, which means choosing foster parents who do not belong to the majority culture; a party like UKIP, which emphasizes national independence as its central idea, is some kind of threat to the new order of things, in which all people are to be treated equally, without preference for the inherited national life-style.

Those judgements are not the arbitrary prejudices of a particular bigot. They are the norms inculcated over decades by academic sociology, by the training in social work, by the quangocracy that has been fed from our social problems, and by the Labour Party and its ideologists. Their meaning is not to be found in such positive actions as seem to flow from them – for as we know, little flows from them of a positive kind at all, as the Rotherham case amply illustrates. Here were abandoned children being offered not just a home but a way into the surrounding society, a way of being normal and protected members of a successful historical community, the very community that granted protection in our formative years to you and me. It is precisely that positive result that horrified the social workers, and caused them to fall back on their fundamental axioms, which are not positive but negative.

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