UKIP Foster Scandal: How A Worrying Precedent Might Be Set

Backbencher November 26, 2012 2
UKIP Foster Scandal: How A Worrying Precedent Might Be Set

 

Peter Taylor,

There is much more than initially meets the eye to the case of a couple who foster having their three current children taken away for voting UKIP. I believe that this is a story that will have legs for a long time yet and I will set out the reasons why the council’s decision could have far-reaching effects in this article.

The first thing to take note of is that to be a foster parent is a lengthy and arduous process. The same can equally be said of adoption in the UK but on an even more trying scale. Often prospective parents have to wait for up to year to be approved and their lives are gone through with a fine tooth comb by an agency in order to match a child to a foster parent; one of the criteria that they could be rejected on are their political views or as in this case, after they have had children in their care.

The couple at the centre of this row have been approved foster carers for seven years. Given how rigorous the approval process is, it is highly unlikely that no matter what their political views that they would have any children’s best interests at heart that came into their care. In some cases, they can have the same children for years at a time.

This is what makes this particular case even more troubling. With ‘an anonymous tip-off’ to Labour-dominated Rotherham Borough Council that the foster couple supported UKIP, their children were taken away on the grounds that the party’s views on immigration made them unsuitable carers…

It is my view that being a member of the BNP or similar fascist party or simply holding these views should not in itself preclude someone from adopting or fostering one child or more. After all, it is safe to say that lots of children still in the care of their birth family have parents or guardians that hold racist views but as of now, that doesn’t prevent them becoming parents or mean that their children will grow up with the same opinions.

Another aspect that needs scrutiny is the timing of this story, as it comes only a week before a by-election in the same constituency, which has been held by Labour since 1933. There have been some suggestions that UKIP is milking this story for all that its worth and I would agree with that. Then again, you could swap them for any of the other political parties and they would do exactly the same thing. It is unlikely that UKIP themselves had any timing over the story breaking but at least in the short term are the obvious beneficiaries from it.

Just like with the Jimmy Savile scandal, the focus should be on the victims in this case and not the party political war of words (even though on the surface, they appear as one on the council’s decision). The children were taken away not because of any sort of abuse or negligence on the foster couples’ part but because of their political views. That is a very slippery slope in a so-called democratic state and wouldn’t look out of place in a one-party dictatorship. There is always a need for people to become foster parents or to adopt and it is my belief that this will put off people with benign intentions for doing so.

Ultimately, there are several points to take from this:

  • The first is that UKIP were likely to perform well in at least two of the three by-elections taking place this week but the upshot from this is they could poll a strong second place in both Rotherham and Croydon North, both safe Labour seats.
  • The adoption and fostering process needs to be made much more simpler and less intrusive. There will always be placements where something goes badly wrong but this is no less likely than when a child is with their birth family.
  • Joyce Thacker is unlikely to keep her job and neither should she. I will always defend free speech and she is entitled to her view on UKIP but cannot be seen to discriminate on those grounds in her role.
  • There is to be an investigation into this case, but I am always skeptical when an organisation launches an inquiry into itself as to how impartial it can really be.

Whilst I don’t believe that UKIP’s immigration is racist, I do believe it is counter-productive and incompatible with libertarianism and a free market economy and is one of the reasons why I cannot vote for UKIP as things stand. Undoubtedly though, the foster couple who do vote for them should have their foster children back in their care as quickly as possible.


[1] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/9700001/Foster-parents-stigmatised-and-slandered-for-being-members-of-Ukip.html

[2] http://www.bemyparent.org.uk/info-for-families/about-fostering/assessment-and-approval,143,AR.html

[3] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/9700001/Foster-parents-stigmatised-and-slandered-for-being-members-of-Ukip.html

[4] http://www.ukip.org/content/ukip-policies/2553-what-we-stand-for

[5] http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/voting-intention-2005-2010

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotherham_(UK_Parliament_constituency)

[7] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20492254

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