Chris Davies wades into Ukip foster care row. Why?

chris daviesA couple of months ago you may recall a big row when it was alleged three eastern European children were removed from their foster parents by Rotherham council because the couple were members of Ukip.

Lib Dem MEP Chris Davies certainly recalls it. And on Monday he made a one-minute speech in the European Parliament about it:

Chris Davies (ALDE ). – Mr President, before Christmas there was, rightly, a furore when social workers in Rotherham took away children from foster parents because they belonged to UKIP, believing it to be racist. Yet what are they to make of the fact that the UK Independence Party’s local MEP, Godfrey Bloom, is a former president of the European Free Alliance, a body that includes the French Front National, Belgium’s Vlaams Belang and the Austrian Freedom Party, whose leader has recently been compared by a judge to a Nazi? These parties are the natural recipients of racist votes.

I have called on the UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, to expel Godfrey Bloom, but instead he has hugged him close, giving a nod and a wink to the racists. It is dog-whistle politics. Website references to some of the links between UKIP and these parties have strangely disappeared in recent weeks, but I have kept copies. Nigel Farage denies that UKIP has racist associations, but the characters of parties, just like people, are formed by those with whom they choose to associate. By your friends shall ye be known.

He followed it up with a succession of tweets. Rather confusingly numbers 1 and 4 contradicted each other:

But whether to defend or attack Rotherham’s social workers, I’m not clear what Chris Davies’s reasons for wading into this debate in this way are.

There are two separate issues here: whether the foster parents were able to provide the children in their care with a loving home; and whether any of Ukip’s leaders can be said to be guilty of racism-by-association.

It’s crude beyond belief to link the two in this way for the sake of a political point.

Here’s all Chris’s tweets on the issue in sequence:

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.

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14 Comments

  • Isaac Lawton 16th Jan '13 - 8:47pm

    Crude, but not entirely suprising. Chris Davies’ primary political affiliation does appear to be anti-Ukip above anything else.

  • Andrew Martin 16th Jan '13 - 9:38pm

    Chris is so popular with members is because he is a true liberal who is never afraid to speak his mind.

    That said, this is also unfortunately why he is no longer our leader in the European Parliament, and may be one reason for his loss in ’97.

  • I have absolutely no doubt that there are some members of UKIP who are racist, (as in all political parties), but I think the UKIP association to this Rotherham case, is a bit incidental to be honest. There seems to have been a deep, and bizarre (witch finder style) problem in Social Services thinking, for many years.
    Anyone remember this ? :
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2005/dec/11/childrensservices.childprotection
    I think the Rotherham thing, was a minor ‘echo’, of that same appalling Social Services culture. Thus, the UKIP link was secondary.
    On a broader note, I think Chris Davies’s contradictory tweets, show he is under some considerable pressure. Poor fellow. Maybe he is feverishly worried, that the longevity of the EU might not match his MEP career prospects, and final pension expectations? It’s a realistic worry.
    My advice to Chris would be, stop tweeting and have a nap.

  • It is politically conformist to say that UKIP members should be allowed to foster kids of Eastern European origin who might be expelled or have their real parents expelled should UKIP’s policies were enacted. What kind of loving home is that FFS? Chris Davies is right. No sense in placing Eastern European kids with adults who support a party that specifically tries to attract voters by stoking fears over Eastern European immigration. Its not about racism, its about core policy. UKIP believes these people shouldnt be here. I dont know anyone who can conceive of growing up with foster parents, loving or otherwise but confused enough to support a party focussed on the idea that said kids shouldnt be in this country.

  • @ Alistair

    Dam right, people who don’t share my political opinions should be banned from having children, just in case…

  • Psi – I didnt say that foster parents have to agree with me politically. UKIPpers can foster British kids til the cows come home. I only have an issue with them fostering kids from other European countries. I wouldnt place black kids with BNP members and I wouldnt place gay kids with homophobic foster parents. Fostered kids have enough to deal with without having to handle fosterers that loathe their cultural roots, colour or sexual orientation.

  • Were British kids – in another EU member state – placed with foster parents who were known to be members of a political party opposed to British & other EU citizens being there, what would the UK media & political reaction were these kids mal-treated?

    I’d suspect there be an awful lot of outrage in the UK about the other EU state’s social services failure to take immediate action…

  • Seems to me at least possible that it was UKIP who tipped off the social workers themselves, to generate a row before the by election. Successfully. The social workers may have fallen into a well-laid trap.

  • Geoffrey Payne 17th Jan '13 - 1:00pm

    Would it not be possible to ask Chris about this before posting this article?

  • David Allen 17th Jan '13 - 1:16pm

    It has to be remembered that fostering children is not a human right. It’s a job. People who lose at job interviews can be perfectly decent people who just didn’t do quite as well as those who won.

    Rotherham social workers have been vilified wrongly. It was entirely reasonable for them to say that given the choice, Eastern European children should not be fostered by people who move in circles where Eastern Europeans might be resented.

    Whether Chris Davies has campaigned on this in the best way is a different question though!

  • These kind of pan-European groups are meaningless anyway. Is it fair game to look into who the Lib Dems sit with in the European Parliament, for example, and judge the party guilty by association?

  • Tony Dawson 17th Jan '13 - 4:30pm

    Chris Davies is a brave politician who speaks his mind honestly and occasionally makes mistakes. This comes with the territory. His successes more than balance the downside. Chris also provides support to campaigners in the North West Region which Lib Dems in other regions could only dream of. He is a far more effective politician than 90 per cent of the MPs in the House of Commons representing any political party. I think he will survive the slings and arrows of outrageous Lib Dem Voice as well as Guido Fawkes and his ilk.

  • Alistair – did you not read about how the (racist/evil/hateful) UKIP foster parents treated those kids?

    They tired to learn some of their language, sing little ryhmes with them from their own cultures and they even started to call them mum and dad! – hardly a 20 year record of abuse and mistreatment of approved foster parents.

    I think its you that has the prejudice, not UKIP.

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