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Soft totalitarianism

The news this morning that a couple in Rotherham had their foster children removed from them because they were UKIP members almost defies belief.

It seems to me to be symptomatic of a much wider problem with soft totalitarianism. There are now an enormous number of views the holding of which will lead to immediate retribution from left-leaning bureaucrats, not the least of which is global warming scepticism.

In his book The Real Global Warming Disaster, Christopher Booker quotes Richard Lindzen on Carl Wunsch as follows:

[He] professionally calls into question virtually all alarmist claims concerning sea level, ocean temperatures and ocean modelling, but assiduously avoids association with sceptics [because] if nothing else he has several major oceanographic programs to worry about.

Get that? If you even associate with sceptics there will be consequences. You will find yourself defunded. You will be ostracised. Is it any wonder that there are, quite literally, no climatologists in the UK who will profess themselves sceptics? When NERC has activists like Bob Watson and even a representative of the Green Alliance running it?

And quite rightly so, I hear the upholders of the global warming consensus say. Sceptics are at best crazy and at worst in the pay of big oil and we should remove them from respectable scientific circles.

Which is the nub of the problem. Totalitarianism, both in its soft and its hard incarnations, is born of the very best of intentions. I read somewhere that Stalin died thinking that sending dissenters to the gulag had been an unpleasant but necessary step on the road to socialist heaven. He was doing the right thing.

So I'm sure the council workers in Rotherham did what they did for the very best reasons. That doesn't stop their actions being part of a vile and dangerous trend in public life in the UK.

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Reader Comments (104)

Brilliant Andrew.

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

If you're part of the self-declared elite, you can do anything without fear of criticism, let alone reprisal.

Why, this week, an establishment climate alarmist in Australia has likened climate skeptics to paedophiles -- on the state broadcaster, no less.

Imagine the furore and threats that would ensue if a 'right-wing' commentator (Booker, say) had made similar remarks.

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterRick Bradford

Spot on - perhaps it is time more of us joined UKIP - they certainly seem to understand the climate change issue!

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Bailey

Christopher Booker's blog often reports on the large number of children taken from their parents into local authority care on what are sometimes very thin - or simply wrong - pretexts (and how those authorities then lie and cheat to defend their actions).

We can't be very far from the time that membership of a political party is seen as a valid justification to take children into care - for their own good of course.

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered Commentergareth

Daring to campaign on fact rather than fiction, UKIP peer and leading climate change sceptic Lord Monckton this week explained how the Party is paying attention to scientific truth (...)"

Climate change sceptics are next.

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:36 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

This has to be good publicity for UKIP. UKIP would put an end to political correctness gone mad (or just political correctness, which is mad anyway).

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Given the calls made for AGW sceptics to be taken to court for their 'beliefs ' we are already there , 'for the good of the people ' are words often heard shortly before events which are in fact far from being 'good for the people '

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

The story from Feb 2012, which I think I first came across through your blog, that UK universities receive £72 million annually in grants for climate research, from (mostly) research councils, the EU or government departments, is the perfect counterpart to the point you make.

Associate with sceptics and get defunded. Toe the line and there is a huge amount of money available:

UK Universities Receive £72 Million p.a. For Climate Research>

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterHK

@ Martin A Nov 24, 2012 at 10:36 AM "Climate change sceptics are next."

Yes, best not to post on BH under your real name.

"We know where you live"

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commentersplitpin

I watched Farage this morning, talking about this disgraceful decision.
All of a sudden, he doesn't look like a swivel-eyed zealot.

But those idiots from Rotherham do.

As Farage said, "heads must roll".

Nov 24, 2012 at 10:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

£30.00 well spent, the first political party I've ever been a member of:

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterSwiss Bob

If the couple belonged to greenpeace or the WWF I could quite understand the council's position - putting the lives of animals before people but as the Bishop says this is all very worrying.

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul

There aren't many comments in favour of the Rotherham Council action on the BBC website. Labour rapidly trying to dissociate itself.

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

Reading this story today in your Telegraph (24 November) leads to me believing it is not quite as black and white as it is being portrayed here.
     Neither as black and white nor as right and wrong. There is background in the story which paints a softer picture than a first glance headline would indicate.

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:13 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

Would you be prepared to pay more for wind follies?..Would you be happy for the Guardian to claim that most people would?.....Go vote on this Guardian poll urgently...

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterfenbeagle

I fear we are sleepwalking towards a totalitarian state, regardless of the results of general or local elections.

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:23 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

I am very much looking forward to Chris Booker's piece in The Telegraph tomorrow.

Childcare abuses by social workers have been up the top of his agenda for some while now. This will be grist to his will the £175 energy bill increases to pay for more windmills.

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder

I couldn't believe that story until I saw it on good old reliable BBC, shocking but not too surprising.

Yes, how people get into that way of thinking is certainly worth analysing and a valid comparison can be drawn to the climate science orthodoxy - a similar overarching inbuilt declaration and certainty of smug worthiness, with a neatly defined out-group that can be demonised and despised.

The lack of independent thought, and inculcating conformity of view, is almost the defining nature of climate science. I remember the furore over The Great Global Warming Swindle were it was quite apparent that Wunsch was only jumping to complain about his representation on the film as a result of prodding from the community concerned about PR. It really came down to a cry about the style of presentation, nothing he said in the film could be proven to be wrongly shown. It was enough to create the .legend of deceit and show how quickly the wandering scientist can be snapped back in to place. Pour encourager les autres?

Also remember the time when Ken Caldeira was hustled back into line and engineered into complaining about his involvement in SuperFreakonomics.

"I was drawn in by Romm and Al Gore’s assistant into critiquing other parts of the chapter. Rather than acting deliberately, I panicked and commented on things that I now wish I would have been silent on. It was obviously a mistake to let myself get drawn into this, and I learned a quick and hard lesson in public relations."

You also see the atmosphere of browbeating to political conformity in the CG emails too. I always find that one of the most subtle and damning aspects of that particular insight rather than any of the bigger single issues in those emails.

Climate scientists must be really proud to be working in such an overtly well policed science. I mean that sarcastically. Any climate scientist I come across has a lot to do to impress me they aren't just surfing on the back of the “kudos” allegedly associated with such a “noble” calling. ;)

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Have a look at this

The lady makes a stab at defending the indefensible and it does boil down to UKIP not supporting multiculturalism and that RBC had been criticised in the past for not paying due attention to childrens' cultural needs.

It really does make one weep.

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Barrett

I think you need to elaborate on that a bit. I've read three reports and the only things I've seen are the argument that UKIP is racist and a social worker desperately trying to justify herself by flannelling.
It is possible that there are other reasons behind this decision but if there are Rotherham Council is making no attempt to say what they are or even to say that there are and that for "operational reasons" (which is always a good get-out but is sometimes true!) they cannot be divulged.
Meanwhile if by some freak of chance the world as we know it comes to an end next Thursday and UKIP win the by-election we'll know who to blame/thank (Delete as appropriate).

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

So if they were in Switzerland would they take their kids off these people

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

So has Nigel requested a statement from Ed Milliband

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Unregistered Commenterjamspid

@Nov 24, 2012 at 11:13 AM | Roger Carr

Reading this story today in your Telegraph (24 November) leads to me believing it is not quite as black and white as it is being portrayed here.
Neither as black and white nor as right and wrong. There is background in the story which paints a softer picture than a first glance headline would indicate.

Well I went over to the Telegraph and I am not sure what aspects of the council defence I am supposed to be impressed by. We are talking of a specific case here where there is no indication that the foster parents rejected the children or adhered to whatever the worst projection of the idea of what the UKIP allegedly stand for. I.e. there is no specific reason to think the children would suffer. The only "soft" thing I see here is a new "soft" vague criteria that allows charlatans to make up any reason they want without risk of being specific.

The only implied damage the children would suffer is damaging of the criteria

"the children's cultural and ethnic needs"

That is not shown anyway. Please enlighten me on how you arrived at your soft focus view on this?

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:54 AM | Registered CommenterThe Leopard In The Basement

Might have something to do with the dear leader sharing the EUSSR EFD grouping with Italian fascists, but then typically the UKIP mushrooms don’t bother researching who they are voting for…

Nov 24, 2012 at 11:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJabba the Cat

I work in UK children's publishing and I can tell you that if I self-published a book even mildly critical of the CAGW orthodoxy (as that is the only way it would ever get into print; no publisher would dare do it), I can guarantee that I would never work in the industry again.

Another reason why I post here anonymously.

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-Record

A spokeswoman for Rotherham Council tried to defend their decision by saying that the children concerned were of a European migrant background. So what? So is the Duke of Edinburgh! Ed Milliband's mother is too, and so was his father. The parents of Lembit Öpik, the former Lib Dem MP and former boyfriend of one of the Cheeky Girls were also of a "European migrant background" as was the father of the former Conservative Party leader Michael Howard.

I doubt if any of those people, not even Ed Milliband (and especially not the Duke of Edinburgh!) would say that a couple should be prevented from adopting children because they supported a party advocating stricter immigration controls. In theory that would rule out supporters of almost any party - even the Lib Dems, although whether most parties mean what they say on immigration is another matter. Perhaps opposition to the EU should be grounds for refusing to allow adoption?

The country could do with a thorough purge of everyone in the public sector who abuses their position to promote their own political views. The case of the UKIP couple in Rotherham is just the tip of the iceberg. It is not difficult to find similar examples. One that was in the news recently was the case of the Christian who had his salary slashed by 40% by Trafford Housing Trust for saying on his personal Facebook page that Facebook that he thought that gay weddings were 'an equality too far.'

Is it purely coincidence that Rotherham is one of the towns worst affected by the scandal of abuse of girls by Asian men, or did the authorities deliberately turn a blind eye because it would not be politically correct even to acknowledge the problem let alone tackle it?

The kind of people who are most enthusiastic about pushing the PC agenda are, as His Grace has noted, the same kind who want to censor "climate change deniers" - even though very few sceptics deny that climate change has occurred.

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I saw this fruit loop incompetent Thacker on BBC Breakfast this morning. She has admitted quite freely that she had recently been on the receiving end of considerable criticism for failing to do her job, so now she goes to the other extreme, Thacker.......Sackher! It is the insidious method of approach that disturbs me, whereby somebody "tipped them off" that this innocent couple were "MEMBERS OF UKIP" & that they were concerned about "UKIP's immigration policies!". The three children concerned were of East-European origin accoding to Thacker. This is redolent of good old fasioned socialism with us or against meme! If you don't join our Respect Festival, you must be racist by default, etc, etc. It is disgusting & remeniscent of the days of yore when one pieps up about "having a sensible immigration policy" drowned out to cries of "Nazi Racist" all over the place. It is shamefull & I am embarrassed to be British & English, this is not what we stand for in this country, but the sort of thing we tend to go to war to prevent, much as we did twice last century!!! Why do people judge others by their own corrupt standards, I recall 20 years or so ago an Iranian couple of good Muslim upbringing, who died young leaving two small children, they were left to be raised as good Muslims by their best friend, a Roman Catholic Nun, who proceeded to do just that, & raise them thus she did!!!!

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan the Brit

Not so "soft" this totalitarianism.

Not long ago these fascist parasites took a woman's child because she was a member of the EDL. This got little media coverage or political concern (including from UKIP) because after all it was the Jews, sorry EDL.

Pastor Neimoller's words clearly apply:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.
There are those who would imprison or section sceptics. A|lready children are being failed in exams when even the markers admit they were well informed, simply for expressing doubt that catastrophic warming is taking place

Life for children in council care is a cruel and unusual punishment as the close correlation with subsequent criminality, drink and drug abuse, illiteracy, suicide and almost every measure of human failure shows.

Yet social workers have nearly 100,000 children in "care", for which they get well over £10 billion from the taxpayer. Rochdale proves the "professional carers" not only do not care for them but allow them to be raped. Rape of children by "professional carers" is common, as described by Benjamin Zephaniah from personal experience, recently on Question Time. Despite the "professional carers" claiming this was being done "for the children" it is clear they did not ask them and virtually certain it was done against their wishes.

This is somewhere that a line in the sand must be drawn. Politicians of all parties must unite in saying that taking this children is a disgusting fascist act. The Labour party must require that their Rotherham council not only reverse the decision but that the totalitarian fascists who did this neverget opaid from the public purse again.

It is impossible that any politician who is not personally an out and out fascist could support the "professional carers" position which in turn means that any remotely honest journalistic organisation (that wouldn't include the BBC) could ever describe any such politician as being in any way anti-fascist.

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

Re UKIP The problem is that many of the people who make these decisions nowadays are seriously thick thanks to the dumbing down of the education system. I am starting to sound right wing !!

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Another way of telling this story is that three children have had their foster parents removed. Council officials entered the children's life and forcibly took away the parents for holding the 'wrong' political views. The council stated its action 'met the needs' of the children.

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter S

re totalitarianism

What Orwell got wrong is that the totalitarianism turned out to be corporate. The most crucial part of the global economy is basically the US Federal reserve, and the US Treasury. There is a rapid revolving door access between those so called public bodies and the banking system. Goldman Sachs own the Treasury and they were Barack Obama's highest donors in 2008.

If you think Goldman Sachs are left wing, you are on the wrong planet.

The Federal Reserve and Freddie Mac/Fannie May (mortgage companies) are typically American private / public organisations designed to funnel huge quantities of tax payers' money to the rich.

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

Re: Jabba the Troll Cat

Some of the political beliefs of the parties belonging to EUSSR EFD

Human rights, religious freedom, democracy, economic liberalism, defense of workers' wages and pensions, environmentalism, against the Gulf War, and has humanitarian missions in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan and Côte d'Ivoire.

That is just the 2 Italian Parties

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Roy says

"even though very few sceptics deny that climate change has occurred."

I don't know of any sceptic that thinks we have had a constant climate for the last 4 billion years.

Your point about the Rotherham grooming case is well made.

Apparently the social workers there were aware of the paedophile activity but thought it insensitive to cultural diversity to intervene.

Given the amount of such paedophile activity in children's homes by the staff the question arises if social workers are make fit and proper adopters .

It would be too harsh for a complete ban but a thorough background check is essential.

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:40 PM | Unregistered CommenterBryan

Not all government action is left wing.

Blair didn't even try and disguise he was using Mussolini style third way politics with the evil PPI schemes being the spearhead (PPI was started by the Tories). The Scottish Socialists objected to two new local schools !! They knew it was a PPI scam.

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

     Not simple to expand on my caution that this is not really a monster show. The foster parents knew the children were not there on a long term basis. They knew it was for a limited period and accepted the children would move on; albeit with longer notice.
     I have a great deal of sympathy for Joyce Thacker, the council's Director of Children and Young People's Services, who reportedly said: "...The children have been in care proceedings before and the judge had previously criticised us for not looking after the children's cultural and ethnic needs, and we have had to really take that into consideration with the placement that they were in."
     I can see and understand the political points and concerns being expressed here on the Hill, yet still am reluctant to try and sit in judgement on the situation; and remain uneasy.
     Midnight in the colony. Perhaps a night's sleep will modify my unease.

Nov 24, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoger Carr

This is simply the next stage. It has long been practically impossible to get a job in Social Work or related professions if you do not hold the "correct" i.e. extreme left views. Such departments therefore exist in a bubble where alternative views do not exist and are regarded as deviant.

Nov 24, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterNW

Stuck Record:

"I work in UK children's publishing and I can tell you that if I self-published a book even mildly critical of the CAGW orthodoxy (as that is the only way it would ever get into print; no publisher would dare do it), I can guarantee that I would never work in the industry again".

I was reminded of Nigel Lawson's introduction to his Appeal to Reason, where he says that despite having had earlier books published, this one putting forward a mildly sceptical point of view (it is more about the economic folly than the science) was rejected by several publishers. Not because of its quality but because of the pressures to conform. Frightening, isn't it.

Nov 24, 2012 at 1:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Fowle

Well said.
Christopher Booker campaigns almost weekly about cases of children being removed from their parents by unaccountable social workers with the support of courts whose proceedings cannot, by law, be reported. He does this at some risk to himself, since he is always navigating close the contempt of court laws.
One wonders if other journalists are afraid to associate themselves wth his lonely, courageous campaign for fear of being tainted by his climate scepticism.

Nov 24, 2012 at 1:17 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

The common good is currently no moral high ground at all but it is a swamp of bigoted malevolence where stridency trumps logic and the unscrupulous prosper while being carried aloft by useful idiots.

Nov 24, 2012 at 1:19 PM | Unregistered Commenterssat


<blockquote cite="I have a great deal of sympathy for Joyce Thacker, the council's Director of Children and Young People's Services, who reportedly said: '...The children have been in care proceedings before and the judge had previously criticised us for not looking after the children's cultural and ethnic needs, and we have had to really take that into consideration with the placement that they were in.'"

That would be Thacker appealing to what a judge said in a secret Family Court. If you or I did that we would be done for contempt of court before you could say 'global warming'. I have no sympathy for Thacker, she is an agent for this foul system through her in choice.

Nov 24, 2012 at 2:17 PM | Unregistered Commenteradamskirving

Its just one more step towards a police state isnt it? Not that I condone smoking but councils are already declining adoptions by prospective parents who smoke so its no surprise that councils are now taking in to account peoples political party membership as well.

Its just one more step towards total control isnt it.


Nov 24, 2012 at 2:40 PM | Unregistered Commentermailman

Chesterton's mad official strikes again.

These are peoples that have lost the power of astonishment at their own actions. When they give birth to a fantastic fashion or a foolish law, they do not start or stare at the monster they have brought forth. They have grown used to their own unreason; chaos is their cosmos; and the whirlwind is the breath of their nostrils.

Nov 24, 2012 at 3:00 PM | Registered CommenterDreadnought

This is the latest manifestation of a mindset that has always been there in local councils - where the public servants have been binge drinking from the brimming glass of petty power, in the knowledge that pretty much whatever they do wrong will actually have trivial or zero real negative consequences for them personally.

This is a clear case for naming the perps in the first sentence of any coverage. Stand up Joyce Thacker

The non-virtuous circle of public apathy (think UK police commissioner elections) and null accountability of those officials already in place is not going to end well.

The first reports I saw about this on the BBC web site seemed to have a hint of righteousness about them - perhaps they should have a seminar to discuss the coverage of UK politics and invite all sorts of experts?

Nov 24, 2012 at 3:09 PM | Registered Commentertomo

By way of possibly ironic complement, the story to which you link is by our renowned national treasure, already not looking too great itself on matters of censorship-enforced propaganda in support of politico-tribal ideals.

So I can't help but notice that of the UK's 25,000,000 uniquely-compelled licence fee payers, who may have had some thoughts to share, only 1,000+ managed within the 3 hr window before it was pulled.

I'd ask why, but the BBC has FoI-exclusion lawyers to avoid asking such questions OF them.

Assuming a banning, referral or expedited complaint doesn't plug the gap first.

The new DG must be just thrilled at the way this is all going.

Nov 24, 2012 at 3:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterJunkkMale

eSmiff @ 12:46

I assume you mean PFI and not PPI. If not, what does PPI mean in this context?

Nov 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMikeA

What are these "cultural and ethnic needs" that these children were apparently lacking? Maybe Roger Carr could elaborate as he seems to know more about this case than the rest of us. Maybe the fact that this couple were told by bigoted social workers that UKIP has "racist policies" has nothing to do with the events that followed. Well, Roger? Please back up your previous comments with some evidence; we'd love to see it.

Nov 24, 2012 at 3:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid, UK

If the couple had strongly held anti-migrant views they would never have been approved as foster carers, let alone have accepted into their care children representative of everything they hate.

Nov 24, 2012 at 3:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Dunford

My first thoughts on this were that it may not be quite as bad as it looks and even after this Thacker woman trying to defend her actions it still might not be as bad as we think.

I think it was swissbob who just joined UKIP and said it was the first political party he ever joined, I have been a member for over 2 years and like him I have never joined a political party before. However to know what UKIP stands for you have to find out for your self because UKIP do not have the money to project themselves like the other parties, they send begging letters at every by election ^.^
It is just possible that Thacker was not someone who had any great interest in politics and who therefore easily mixed up UKIP and the BNP (who would IMHO be unsuitable foster parents).
OK so why didnt she just say so? Well it seems to me that a very large percentage of the population are genetically programmed to deny any action, fact or point of view of their own which subsequently becomes embarrassing, in which case she needed an excuse/cover story. I would not personally have used the one she did but then she does indeed seem to have very little brain.

Nov 24, 2012 at 3:56 PM | Registered CommenterDung


Yes, sorry, PFI. I was also thinking of the closely related PPP, Public-private partnership,

Nov 24, 2012 at 4:00 PM | Unregistered CommentereSmiff

The Leopard In The Basement

I couldn't believe that story until I saw it on good old reliable BBC, shocking but not too surprising. [...]

A bit worrying that. I mean the idea that, with a story such as this one, it must be so indefensible that even the BBC felt compelled to report it.

How far we have fallen.

Nov 24, 2012 at 4:25 PM | Unregistered Commenter3x2

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