Ewan Palmer, International Business Times, October 27, 2014
Ukip have been accused of exploiting the trauma felt by victims of the Rotherham child sex abusescandal to help their campaign in winning an upcoming police commissioner election.
The party is running neck and neck with Labour in the vote to decide who will become the next South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
The election was called following the resignation of Shaun Wright, the former head of child services in Rotherham from 2005 to 2010, who finally stepped down following a damming report detailing how 1,400 children were abused in the town for years.
As part of Ukip’s campaign for its candidate Jack Clarkson to win its first police crime commissioner post, the party unveiled its new “hard hitting” ‘1400 reasons to vote’ poster campaign in Rotherham.
The posters, which will be displayed across South Yorkshire until the PCC election on 30 October, accuses Labour of failing the victims of the child sex abuse scandal in the area and suggests there are “1,400 reasons why you should not trust Labour again”.
Speaking at the unveiling of the campaign, Clarkson said: “It is a sad fact that the people have been let down by the Labour Party across South Yorkshire. Politicians, both at the town halls and in uniform for years were more worried about fashionable ideas than about protecting our young in their own towns and streets”.
However, the campaign has been criticised as “despicable” by members of the Labour party.
Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP for Rochdale, said: “Ukip are clearly more interested in trying to use victims’ suffering to win votes than in coming up with solutions. They have never contributed to discussions in terms of child sex abuse. They have decided to create a bandwagon which they are now jumping on.”
The shadow justice minister, Dan Jarvis, a South Yorkshire MP, added: “The cynical and deliberate exploitation of victims by Ukip in this poster marks a new and unacceptable low in their recentcampaign activity.”
Ukip defended the posters saying they are merely reflecting the “absolute rage” residents of Rotherham are feeling following the child sex abuse scandal.
Ukip candidate for Rotherham, Jane Collins, added: “These posters are certainly hard hitting, but they bring home a simple truth, a truth that is spoken in far harsher terms than this in the shops, bars, and clubs across the region.
“You just cannot trust Labour to do its duty. Jack Clarkson will be a force to be reckoned with in bringing the communities together and rebuilding the trust so desperately needed between our police and our citizens”.
Ukip’s leader Nigel Farage previously accused the left wing of being more outraged at former Radio1 DJ Mike Read’s Ukip Calypso than they were over the Rotherham sex scandal.