It’s difficult to know how individuals or organisations with ‘extreme’ views should be treated in different contexts. Those who value free speech highly may prefer to counter, rather than ban, even the most hateful preachers or politicians. Yesterday I invoked the example of a UKIP speaker being prevented from speaking at a university to demonstrate what a slippery slope the whole banning business is.
One might reasonably set the bar lower when deciding who should be allowed, not to give a one off talk, but to have the responsibility for looking after vulnerable children. However, on the face of it, the recent decision made by Rotherham social workers to take children away from their foster family just because they were members of UKIP seems quite wrong.
UKIP does have very tough policies on immigration, and it seems likely that such policies might appeal to racists more than very liberal policies. BUT the policies are not in themselves racist, and UKIP supporters should not be assumed to be racist without evidence.
A spokesman for Rotherham metropolitan borough council said last night: “After a group of sibling children were placed with agency foster carers, issues were raised regarding the long-term suitability of the carers for these particular children.
“With careful consideration, a decision was taken to move the children to alternative care. We continue to keep the situation under review.”
David Goosey, the chairman of the trustees at Community Foster care, an independent fostering charity, said: “If this is accurate and there are no other extraneous matters that have concerned the authorities, then it is completely ridiculous and no self-respecting authority should be stopping people fostering on the grounds of their membership of Ukip.”
Nushra Mansuri, of the British Association of Social Workers, said: “My first question would be, does the local council have a clear equality policy so you can understand a bit more about the decision-making?
“Otherwise it’s very difficult to fathom.”
It should be pointed out that it seems the parents have not been barred from fostering completely, only deemed not to be a good match for these particular children.