The past few weekends have seen Labour MPs engaged in a pretty unseemly ideological schism over child grooming scandals in (most recently) Newcastle, and before that Rotherham, Rochdale and elsewhere.
It was kicked off by Sarah Champion who wrote an irredeemably dreadful piece for the Sun that spoke in such clumsily broad-brush terms about ‘Pakistani men’ that it was perceived (rightly or wrongly) as outright racism and this cost her a frontbench role as shadow Equalities minister. Any thoughts that she’d been misrepresented or misquoted by the sleazy tabloid were dispelled a week later when she gave an interview to the Times that saw her digging deeper into the same trench.
On Saturday, the constituency MP for Newcastle upon Tyne, Chi Onwurah, responded directly with a piece in the Guardian that was uncompromising in its assertion that race has nothing to do with the grooming gangs, whose members are motivated by misogyny, not racism, she wrote.
If my Twitter feed was anything to go by, her piece was not exactly well received, even by left-leaning liberals who might have been minded to agree with her general stance. Her opening sentence in particular was unfathomably crass and ill-advised, asking: “What’s worse, rape or racism?”
The arguments around it put me in mind of a rambling chat we had in the comments section of another post here, about the meaning and definition of hate crime, and I thought it might be worth unpicking how I see all of this. [Read more…]