This white grooming gang is awfully inconvenient. We must disregard it

By Abigail Pennson, our reasonable, plain-speaking middle-class columnist who knows full well that barges sink

THE BBC reported it with chortling glee. The slave-owning Guardian was delighted. But for Rishi’s sake, and for Britain’s, this white grooming gang must be ignored. 

The timing is very suspicious. 21 people convicted in the West Midlands and every man jack of them white as snow, just when it would hurt the Tories most.

Who’s in on this conspiracy? The corrupt police? The liberal elite judges who tried to destroy Brexit? Former prosecutor of the blameless public Sir Keir?

It cannot be coincidence. The very week the government defies the liberal consensus and tells the unvarnished truth – to quote the blessed Suella, that ‘certain ethnic groups hold cultural values totally at odds with British values’ – these foul criminals appear.

What about the real victims in all this, the white working class? Bamboozled by inflation, by house prices, by the rivers of effluent running past their homes into thinking the government doesn’t represent them.

Finally thrown a lifeline and given something their stunted, fevered brains can comprehend like ‘Asian men bad’, they were obediently lining up to vote Tory. Before this slap in the face from so-called reality.

When confronted by evidence like this, hard facts which challenge every prejudice we hold dear, we have a choice. And for me it is no choice at all.

The facts are irrelevant. Only my prejudice – and yours, and your neighbours, and every right-thinking person in the country who believes what they hear down the pub – is true.

So cast this gang from your minds and from your internet history. Why let these people from Walsall and Wolverhampton, places that barely exist let alone matter, blunt the only tool that’s drawing Labour blood?

Do we want tawdry, unpleasant truth? Or do we want a resounding Tory victory? I speak for the sensible of all sensibilities when I say: the latter.

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Let's move to… a seaside spot permanently helping the police with their enquiries! This week: Southend-on-Sea

What’s it about? 

Southend-on-Sea, pronounced locally with the traditional double-F intonation, was developed as a seaside resort in the 19th century despite being situated on an estuary.

Building the pier in 1889 let Southend-on-Estuary attract cruise steamers on their way to Kent, establishing the town as a gutter beggar for Margate’s cast-offs. It grew substantially in the 50s and 60s after all the Cockney gangsters fleeing the East End bought homes with gardens to commit crime in a slightly more exotic location until Spain became available.

Any good points? 

With a generational divide separating the youths who call it Adventure Island from the close-to-death for whom it will always be known as Peter Pan’s Playground, a £28 wristband for Southend’s premier theme park and you’ll be vomiting, terrified your heart will explode and feel like you’re flying. £25 for a wrap from a bloke called Pete in the nearby Hope pub will have the same affect.

The seafront’s Sea Life Centre offers the chance to get up close and personal with some old trout; good practice for Southend’s nightlife.

It also boasts the longest pleasure pier in the world. It would just be better if there was anything at the end of it. There’s only a lifeboat centre and the mostly disused set of a Jamie Oliver TV show, to which celebrity guests were bussed in under cover of night and then extracted as quickly as possible, minimising their exposure to the town and its residents as contracted.

You now have to pay to walk along the pier. While expending vast quantities of time trudging along to get nowhere is frustrating, it does provide a fascinating insight into the locals’ career trajectories. And it’s a mile-and-a-third long, which gets you a mile-and-a-third away from fucking Southend.

Wonderful landscape? 

The sea’s alright, though enjoying it while used wipes whip around your ankles and discarded barbecues smoulder underfoot can be difficult.

Most of Victorian Southend’s gone in favour of concrete shops, now empty. Situated by the now-demolished Foresters Arms, once known for its Operation Yewtree-busting combination of strip shows and bouncy castles, the Kursaal was in its heyday a dance hall. At various stages it’s been a casino, bumper cars, a ski jump and a wall of death, and is now mostly empty except for a Tesco Express.

Hang out at…

Not Michael Jackson’s ranch of a similar name but as much fun for children, Never Never Land is six miniature stone castles nestled in shrubberies. Seafront amusement arcades Sunspot, Fantasia and Happidrome let residents to spend their Universal Credit in 2p buckets. It keeps them occupied so they’re less likely to kick seagulls to death.

Oliver’s on the Beach, a café run by Jamie Oliver’s family, suggests that the celebrity chef will not rest until the entire town is named after him like some deranged Soviet dictator.

The pubs range from genuinely warm and welcoming establishments like the Legra Tap to The Elms, a Wetherspoon’s and warning to middle-aged men about the consequences of divorce. The Saxon King was built on the burial site of an unknown Anglo-Saxon King of Essex, discovered in 2003 surrounded by golden crosses, swords and Indian garnets, neither the first nor last time gold, smuggled jewels and weapons have been found buried around here.

For clubbing, Southend residents continue to mourn the loss of Mayhem, which drummed up business by repeatedly pretending that Rihanna had been booked only to be predictably exposed in the Southend Echo when she didn’t turn up. The Rhythm Rooms replaced former staple of the scene Dick De Vigne’s, astonishingly christened in honour of an actual person who with that name only had the career options of nightclub owner or porn star.

Where to buy? 

Yearning for the days when there was always a bobby on the beat? A property on York Road will always have a policeman in the vicinity, and frequently a police helicopter overhead.

Got money from your grandfather’s bank job? The redeveloped Shoebury Garrison, overlooking East Beach, has houses named Officers Mess after their erstwhile inhabitants. Or for gritty apartment living there’s the Queensway, the backdrop for unflinching BBC Three documentary Tower Block Dreams, JG Ballard-style high-rises within convenient walking distance of the high street, cinema and county court.

From the streets:

Wayne Hayes, aged 35: “You fucking want some, mate?”