My feeling on hearing Jack Straw's comments today - about Pakistani men committing sexual offences against white girls - was how remarkably unconstructive they were. Basically he seemed to be telling brown people to sort out their folk without even suggesting how they were any more able to root out criminals who happen share their skin colour than white people are with theirs:
"We need to get the Pakistani community to think much more clearly about why this is going on and to be more open about the problems that are leading to a number of Pakistani heritage men thinking it is OK to target white girls in this way.
What made Straw's comments objectionable today were his attempts to pin this on all Pakistanis. With the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election campaign in full swing, the seat vacated because of the race-baiting of a disgraced former Labour MP, it would appear the main difference between Phil Woolas and Jack Straw is that the latter doesn't need to spend money on leaflets.
Straw went on to say this in his BBC interview:
"These young men are in a western society, in any event, they act like any other young men, they're fizzing and popping with testosterone, they want some outlet for that, but Pakistani heritage girls are off-limits and they are expected to marry a Pakistani girl from Pakistan, typically.
"So they then seek other avenues and they see these young women, white girls who are vulnerable, some of them in care... who they think are easy meat."
Straw acknowledges that these crimes happen across the board in this country rather than being something unique to Pakistanis. However, the rest of his comments can be taken two ways. Firstly, his objection now can be construed that Pakistani men are not being equal opportunities in their sexual offences - that somehow it would be better if there were brown as well as white girls being targeted (by the way the researchers whose study sparked this off reject the notion that white girls are especially sought - in fact BME girls are overrepresented amongst victims).
But let's say we put that down to careless phrasing. What Straw appears to be doing is citing natural testosterone levels within Pakistani men not having an outlet because of family expectations that they will have to marry girls from Pakistan. If this is indeed what he's getting at, he would do well to explain why it is that rather than just having normal relationships with women in this country instead, some are engaging in criminality.
These are serious crimes that need to be dealt with in an evidence led manner. Jack Straw instead gives us another bumbling intervention in a subject he really should have left to the police.