The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) is a thorn in the side of the Conservative party because it draws away traditional Conservative voters who want a more forthright position on the European Union, including a threat to pull out.
In recent polls, the party has eclipsed the Liberal Democrats in popularity. UKIP threatens to deny the Conservatives victory in competitive parliamentary seats as well.
Now, thanks to overbearing social workers, UKIP has won a bumper crop of popular sympathy. In southern Yorkshire, children who had been placed with foster parents, who were gracious enough to take them in under emergency circumstances, were suddenly removed from the foster home.
The rationale was that the foster parents were members of UKIP. The bureaucratic logic ran as follows: UKIP is against the European Union, against immigration and against multiculturalism. The children in question are from migrant families. Therefore, if the foster parents are members of UKIP, they could not possibly be loving foster parents to the children.
This a priori assumption overrode the evidence that the children were happy and well cared for and that the parents in question had a sterling record in 7 years of acting as foster parents. David Miliband, leader of the opposition Labour Party, was quick to anticipate the damage that the affair could do his party, as the Rotherham Borough Council was controlled by Labour. He therefore urged an immediate investigation into the actions by the social workers.
The affair highlights once again the Labour Party's vulnerability on the issues of multiculturalism and immigration. Additionally, the heavy-handed action by the social workers can be used to tar the Labour Party with attachment to Big Brother paternalism.
Miliband therefore opted for the direct approach "Being a member of a political party like UKIP should not be a bar to fostering children".
The Conservative Party, that regards UKIP has a dangerous rival, was also forced to come to the rival party's defense and Education Secretary Michael Gove accused the social workers of making "the wrong decision in the wrong way for the wrong reasons" Gove called the decision "indefensible".
UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, also called for an investigation and blamed the affair on the bigotry of the Labour Party "“It was the Labour government that opened the doors to uncontrolled mass immigration into this country on a scale that we have never seen in the history of the island. And then anybody who tries to discuss or debate the issue is written off as being racist.”