Was Labour right to 'sack' Sarah Champion for saying Pakistani men ‘rape, exploit white girls’?
The MP for Rotherham apologized for “the extremely poor choice of words” and quit as shadow equalities minister on Wednesday.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn showed no opposition to Champion’s resignation, saying his party would not “blame or demonize any particular group.”
In fact, according to PoliticsHome, it was Corbyn himself who removed Champion from her Shadow Cabinet-level post.
Champion’s article followed news last week of 17 men being jailed for abusing women and girls as young as 14 in Newcastle. Most of the men were born in Britain but had Iraqi, Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian, Iranian, and Turkish origins.
Following the conviction, the long-time child protection campaigner said gang-related abuses are “predominantly” carried out by Pakistani men, and that cases of sexual abuse are not being reported and investigated effectively because authorities fear they will be called racists.
Champion reiterated her remarks in the Sun column.
“Britain has a problem with British-Pakistani men raping and exploiting white girls,” said Champion
“There. I said it. Does that make me a racist? Or am I just prepared to call out this horrifying problem for what it is?”
She went on to say: “These people are predators and the common denominator is their ethnic heritage.”
Champion’s resignation has divided opinion.
Some commentators criticized the former secretary for women and equalities over her remarks.
Sarah Champion's mistake was writing for the Sun and not focussing on, largely, white men's responses to the abuse of young women and girls https://t.co/2kXZ3NjLM0— @arabdame (@arabdame) August 17, 2017
sarah Champion is being made a hero for speaking out about child rape in Rotherham, she has been their MP for 5 years? why only now?— sue robinson (@wenchintrench) August 17, 2017
Another contested Champion's claim that it is Asian men mainly carrying out gang-related abuse.
'Nearly 90 per cent of those convicted and on the sex offenders register are white men'https://t.co/51IALuw7Fz— Adam Jezard (@jezardscribe1) August 17, 2017
We need to dispel the dangerous myth that it's only Asian men who sexually assault young women https://t.co/Pli4pseRSO— Hannah Stoate (@HannahStoate) August 17, 2017
Others, however, have rallied to her defense.
Amina Lone, a Muslim Labour candidate who was born to Pakistani parents, praised Champion’s comments, saying she is “brave, not racist.”
of their cultural/religious practices. Obvs not all men. She is not a racist but a brave woman speaking out about a politically awkward (12— Amina Lone (@Amina_Lone) August 16, 2017
“She is not a racist but a brave woman speaking out about a politically awkward issue. Labour, bury your heads as much as you like in the black & white purist world you push.
“The chickens will come home to roost,” she tweeted.
Lone told BBC Newsnight: “She has been punished and used as a scapegoat because as a politician she’s an easy target.”
Her view was echoed by Conservative minister Sajid Javid, who is also of Pakistani descent, who hit out at Corbyn for condoning the former shadow minister’s resignation.
“Corbyn wrong to sack Sarah Champion. We need an honest open debate on child sexual exploitation, including racial motivation,” he tweeted.
Corbyn wrong to sack Sarah Champion. We need an honest open debate on child sexual exploitation, including racial motivation— Sajid Javid (@sajidjavid) August 17, 2017
Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage also branded the Labour leader’s response “pathetic.”
“Telling the truth about tough issues is now impossible in the modern Labour Party. Pathetic.”
Telling the truth about tough issues is now impossible in the modern day Labour Party. Patheitc. https://t.co/AcwOZUfcKS— Nigel Farage (@Nigel_Farage) August 16, 2017
Social media users also flocked to Twitter to speak out against Champion’s resignation.
Good thread on Sarah Champion, and Labour missing the point. https://t.co/J9m8tgodnz— Samuel Coates (@samuelcoates) August 17, 2017
Labour's reaction to Sarah Champion shows just how out of touch with the public they have become.— Peter Lamb (@happydog666) August 17, 2017