I was shocked to read Sarah Champion’s comments yesterday. Writing for The Sun, the MP claimed that 'Britain has a problem with British Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls'.
It was the sort of rhetoric I’d expect from a reckless Tory, or dare I say it, a UKIP-er. It was certainly not something I’d ever expect to hear from the lips of a Labour MP, let alone a Shadow Cabinet minister for that matter. If she’s not spending her weekend drafting a sincere and grovelling apology, it ought to be a letter of resignation.
Child abuse is a serous issue not only in the U.K. at large, but in particular in Champion’s constituency of Rotherham. Consequently, it is completely understandable that she’d wish to take a strong line on this issue. However, what is not even within the realms of understandable is her decision to direct that strong line squarely at those of Pakistani ethnicity.
While there have been several incidences of child abuse committed by gang rings of Pakistani origin, her assertion that child abuse is ‘predominately’ carried out by that cultural group not only smacks of – let’s just call it what it is shall we – racism, but it is also glaringly inaccurate.
Obviously, the primary offenders of child abuse in Britain are white males. Even when you crunch the numbers and judge the figures of white offenders as a proportion of the ethnic makeup of Britain, white males remain the largest group of offenders.
Did Sarah Champion make such an ignorant comment without all the facts? If so, why would she make such bold and offensive comments without full confidence in her assertions? More alarming still is the possibility that she knew what she was spurting was untrue and did so regardless. If the latter is the case, she is not only unfit for Shadow Cabinet responsibility, but for public office altogether.
Champion called out the 'fear of being called racist' as being responsible for a lack of appropriate action taking place. In my experience, those who fear being called racist generally have reason to fear. In addition, those who call out ‘political correctness’ are generally those who feel their politically incorrect opinions are stifled.
What truly baffles me about Champion’s statement is that she’s left little to no room for backtracking or apology. While recklessly calling out a single ethnic group for a widespread issue, she suggested the right would attack her for being too tame, and the ‘floppy left’ would brandish her racist. I personally have never been labelled ‘floppy left’, and am not going as far as calling the MP in question racist, but I am certainly calling her out on a racist statement.
It is possible for non-racists to make racist comments. People make mistakes and choose their wording poorly. It happens. If this occurs without swiftly being followed up with a comprehensive apology and clarification, the perpetrators are rightly condemned. There should be no special treatment for a Labour shadow minister.
Sarah Champion, you must either offer a whole-hearted and genuine apology before the weekend draws to a close, or you should resign in shame. If neither occurs, Corbyn’s office should do what is necessary and show her the door.