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Something’s rotten in Rotherham.

THE SMELL OF sulphur, as the old Ruthenian saying goes, is the Devil’s welcome. There’s certainly a whiff of sulphur in the air emanating from Rotherham today. The media and the blogosphere in particular have been enjoying the fallout from the news that two Rotherham foster parents who are members of UKIP have had three immigrant children taken away from them.

UKIP are really the rump of the traditional Conservative Party and therefore old-fashioned patriots who believe immigration is fine as long as it is strictly controlled (which cannot be done since the UK is a member of the EU). Unfortunately, the dissent from the progressive dogma that mass immigration is a manifold blessing with no disadvantages and the more of it the better is enough to label anyone, and any organisation, as racist. UKIP, therefore, are racists and none of them should be fostering immigrant children. As we know, in the kangaroo courts of the politically correct, there’s no greater crime than racism.

UKIP are ecstatic at the publicity. The councillors and officials at Rotherham Borough Council will be indulging in an orgy of backstabbing while screaming at their PR people to find a way to spin themselves out of the mess. Labour HQ in London are peering at Google maps because don’t know where Rotherham is because it’s “oop north” as southerners say, so they’ll most likely just demand another enquiry and hope it all goes away.

Now there may be more to this than is appearing in the notoriously unreliable British media. At the moment, however, it still looks like a blatant case of left-wing bigotry in action. The real whiff of sulphur comes from the information (dug out by the unpaid citizen journalists of the blogosphere) that there is a connection between the director of the department involved in this case, Joyce Thacker, and an organisation called Common Purpose.

COMMON PURPOSE IS one of those organisations that magnetically attracts the word “shadowy” in certain circles. Its remit is to run courses “which give people the skills, connections and inspiration to become better leaders both at work and in society”. They also encourage what they call “leadership beyond authority”, which seems to boil down to extending your influence and network beyond your normal circles.

Accordingly, they “train” a large number of people at local and national government level, including the police – and are not cheap. Joyce Thacker was involved in a project run by Common Purpose called Developing active networks in local communities, in West Yorkshire in 2008. One of the aims of the programme was (surprise, surprise) to examine “ways of valuing diversity (in all its aspects) within communities, and enabling participants to see the world through other people’s eyes”. “Diversity”, “communities”, “enabling”: three good hits from the statist lexicon.

Again, there may be nothing at all suspicious about all this, and those people who go on about the organisation, including now The Daily Mail, who recently devoted pages to Common Purpose and associated networks in public life, are just spouting conspiracy waffle. The whiff of sulphur in my nostrils, however, arises from the whole obsession with leadership prevalent in left wing circles. At every level of society there is some group or organisation offering training in leadership skills. Why? Don’t we have too many damn “leaders” as it is? Don’t we already suffer from “leaders” such as Joyce Thacker, justifying unjustifiable political bigotry at council level? Don’t we have too many of them making decisions that go well beyond their official duties (“beyond authority”?) Why the hell do we need more leaders who are indeed beyond authority, ie, unelected and unappointed? And who decides there is such a thing as a “common purpose” in our national life anyway?

For there to be leaders there have to be the led. That must be us. There are more and more people, whether Common Purpose “graduates” or not, very keen to lead us to their utopia of sensitive, multiculturally diverse conformity. They’re ready to tell us what to eat and drink, where to stand if we want to smoke, what words we can say, what ideas we must not question, what we should be fined for, what religious symbols we may or may not wear or display, what groups of people we must show “sensitivity” towards, etc. The list goes on.

So you can add “leadership” and “common purpose” to the vocabulary of the politically correct. I don’t know about you, but I can definitely smell the sulphur. You know who is about to say hello.

Michael Blackburn.