The Truth About Britain’s “Grooming Gangs,” with Ella Cockbain

Dr. Ella Cockbain, associate professor at University College London, exposes the dangerous rhetoric behind British Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s false claims about Britain’s so-called “grooming gangs.”

The MintPress podcast, “The Watchdog,” hosted by British-Iraqi hip hop artist Lowkey, closely examines organizations about which it is in the public interest to know – including intelligence, lobby and special interest groups influencing policies that infringe on free speech and target dissent. The Watchdog goes against the grain by casting a light on stories largely ignored by the mainstream, corporate media.

The truth can’t be racist, wrote British Home Secretary Suella Braverman in April of this year, as she peddled xenophobic and debunked tropes about South Asian men being a particular threat to British children. Braverman’s comments come after nearly a decade of national hysteria about so-called Pakistani “grooming gangs” roaming around the country, sexually abusing white children while overly woke authorities watch on, helpless, too scared to act, lest they be called racist.

Braverman, who herself is of South Asian (Indian) origin, made these comments in the far-right magazine The Spectator, an outlet that has published articles with titles such as “In Praise of the Wehrmacht” and “A fascist takeover of Greece? We should be so lucky.” Nevertheless, her screed breathed new life into the relentless push to demonize British Muslims.

Here to talk about “grooming gangs,” academic malpractice, pseudoscience, and the malfeasance of the ruling British Conservative Party is Dr. Ella Cockbain, an associate professor in the Department of Security and Crime Science at University College London. Cockbain has been at the heart of scrutinizing the dangerous media tropes presenting Muslims as a threat. She is the author of the article “Failing Victims, fuelling hate: challenging the Harms of the ‘Muslim grooming gangs’ Narrative,” published in the academic journal Race & Class.

Cockbain claims that Braverman is an “overtly racist” politician, noting her (false) comments that members of grooming gangs are “almost all British-Pakistani” and that their victims are “overwhelmingly white girls from disadvantaged or troubled backgrounds” have done much to undermine tolerance and coexistence in the United Kingdom.

“These things are not facts,” Cockbain said; “actually, they [Braverman’s claims] directly contradict the findings of her own department, the U.K. home office.” While Cockbain agrees that men of Pakistani origin have committed horrific crimes against children, so have people from all other racial, ethnic, religious and class backgrounds. Yet when other offenders – particularly white men – attack children, their race is never singled out as a causal factor. Thus, when Jimmy Saville, Rolf Harris, Prince Andrew or a host of other high-profile white abusers hit headlines, there is no campaign to demand all white men be put under high surveillance, and there are no far-right marches demanding payback for what whites have done to “our children.”

The effect of this ongoing moral panic, based on what Cockbain calls “terrible pieces of pseudoscience,” has been to harden attitudes and create racial conflicts within British society. Children of South Asian origin report being bullied and being called a “groomer.” The U.K. far-right has capitalized on this, leading hate marches against Muslim communities under the cover of supposed concern for British children. White nationalist terrorists such as Darren Osborne or the Christchurch shooter Brenton Tarrant have specifically mentioned anger over British Muslim “grooming gangs” as reasons for why they carried out their atrocities.

Unfortunately, Britain’s notorious press has played along, fanning the flames of resentment. The effect of this has been to distract from the government’s own failings. Ironically, the Conservative government has been cutting budgets for child protection, mental health, schooling and other services that directly deal with the effects of child sexual abuse, making the problem far worse. Yet refugees and other minority groups are blamed for long waiting times to see doctors or the fact that services are overused. Thus, they have skillfully managed to shift the blame onto some of Britain’s most marginalized communities, playing the game of divide and rule masterfully.

Watch or listen to the show on MintPress, or your favorite podcast provider. And if you enjoyed it, please leave us a “like” or a five-star review.

Lowkey is a British-Iraqi hip-hop artist, academic and political campaigner. As a musician, he has collaborated with the Arctic Monkeys, Wretch 32, Immortal Technique and Akala. He is a patron of Stop The War Coalition, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, the Racial Justice Network and The Peace and Justice Project, founded by Jeremy Corbyn. He has spoken and performed on platforms from the Oxford Union to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury. His latest album, Soundtrack To The Struggle 2, featured Noam Chomsky and Frankie Boyle and has been streamed millions of times.