Nigel Farage's party exploits the Rotherham grooming scandal for political gain. Photo: Getty
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The Independent reports on Ukip exploiting Rotherham – but it let Nigel Farage write a column doing just that

The Independent discovers Ukip exploiting the Rotherham grooming scandal for political purposes. But it allowed Nigel Farage to do just that in his column.

The Independent is reporting a story about Ukip being "accused of exploiting the misery of Rotherham sex-abuse victims" for political purposes. However, it's exactly what the paper allowed Nigel Farage to do in his column on Friday in its own pages.

Its story reports the party using "disrespectful" tactics in the area, using the Rotherham child abuse scandal in an attempt to secure its first police and crime commissioner.

The party used such messaging in its campaign in Heywood and Middleton, a strategy of dog-whistle racism Nigel Farage resurrected in his Independent column on Friday to defend the Ukip calypso. He wrote:

If you were to play the Ukip Calypso song to me now and say, "Mr Farage. . . knowing what you now know, would you still endorse the track?" I'd say yes. Because it brought a lot of people a smile, and it was released with the best of intentions.

I wonder if, given hindsight, the same people who took the decisions which led to the calamity in Rotherham could say the same thing.

Perhaps it's time for the Independent to refer more to its own pieces. Either that, or retire the Ukip leader's column... 

I'm a mole, innit.

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Tom Watson rouses Labour's conference as he comes out fighting

The party's deputy leader exhilarated delegates with his paean to the Blair and Brown years. 

Tom Watson is down but not out. After Jeremy Corbyn's second landslide victory, and weeks of threats against his position, Labour's deputy leader could have played it safe. Instead, he came out fighting. 

With Corbyn seated directly behind him, he declared: "I don't know why we've been focusing on what was wrong with the Blair and Brown governments for the last six years. But trashing our record is not the way to enhance our brand. We won't win elections like that! And we need to win elections!" As Watson won a standing ovation from the hall and the platform, the Labour leader remained motionless. When a heckler interjected, Watson riposted: "Jeremy, I don't think she got the unity memo." Labour delegates, many of whom hail from the pre-Corbyn era, lapped it up.

Though he warned against another challenge to the leader ("we can't afford to keep doing this"), he offered a starkly different account of the party's past and its future. He reaffirmed Labour's commitment to Nato ("a socialist construct"), with Corbyn left isolated as the platform applauded. The only reference to the leader came when Watson recalled his recent PMQs victory over grammar schools. There were dissenting voices (Watson was heckled as he praised Sadiq Khan for winning an election: "Just like Jeremy Corbyn!"). But one would never have guessed that this was the party which had just re-elected Corbyn. 

There was much more to Watson's speech than this: a fine comic riff on "Saturday's result" (Ed Balls on Strictly), a spirited attack on Theresa May's "ducking and diving; humming and hahing" and a cerebral account of the automation revolution. But it was his paean to Labour history that roused the conference as no other speaker has. 

The party's deputy channelled the spirit of both Hugh Gaitskell ("fight, and fight, and fight again to save the party we love") and his mentor Gordon Brown (emulating his trademark rollcall of New Labour achivements). With his voice cracking, Watson recalled when "from the sunny uplands of increasing prosperity social democratic government started to feel normal to the people of Britain". For Labour, a party that has never been further from power in recent decades, that truly was another age. But for a brief moment, Watson's tubthumper allowed Corbyn's vanquished opponents to relive it. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.