Fury as mayor claims UK could learn from Taliban

DONCASTER war hero Ben Parkinson's family today slated claims by mayor of Doncaster Peter Davies that the UK could learn lessons from the Taliban.

Ben said he was upset by the claims, while his mum Diane Dernie said it was almost too painful to comment on his suggestion.

Mr Davies contrasted the Taliban's "decent" family affairs with "mayhem" he claims exists in British society in an interview in a national newspaper.

In a series of highly controversial remarks, Mayor Davies claimed the Taliban had an "ordered system of family life", although he stressed he "detests" the religious fundamentalists responsible for the deaths of more than 200 British troops in Afghanistan.

He later said he was using hyperbole to make a point.

The Mayor said: "The one thing to be said about the Taliban is that they do have an ordered society of some sort and that they don't have hundreds of cases of children under threat of abuse from violent parents, as we have in Doncaster.

"The point I was making was that even a regime as hideous as the Taliban at least appear to have sort of decent sort of family affairs. In fact probably...they have an ordered society.

"We in this country have created mayhem through lax social policies of disregard for marriage and the family and we have created mayhem in society."

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War hero Ben, from Bessacarr, who lost his legs and suffered brain damage after he was the victim of a Taliban bomb blast in Helmand province said: "If they have an ordered society it is ordered by anyone who steps out of line being threatened with death."

His mum added: "I find it almost too painful to comment on this. I don't understand how anyone could say such a thing. The Taliban are not even a defined group. The society he is talking about is farmers by day and killers of British soldiers by night.

"I don't pretend to understand the Taliban. But I do understand hyperbole and I understand how painful what he has said must be for the families of the wounded and those who have lost their sons, and to the soldiers who are out there."

The Mayor made his comments after coming under attack from Doncaster Central Labour MP Rosie Winterton following an interview he gave to The Mail on Sunday in which he was reported as saying he believes the UK could learn lessons in family values from the Taliban.

It also quoted him as saying "Who says we have the moral right to tell Afghan society how to live?"

Ms Winterton, a senior government minister, said she was "shocked" by the remarks.

"The Taliban wouldn't let women attend school, work or go out in public alone. Women breaking these laws were flogged and executed. They were also the sponsors of the terrorist perpetrators of 9/11 and the 7/7 bombers.

"I think this is not what most people would recognise as family values."

Speaking to The Star, Mayor Davies defended his comments, saying he was using an "exaggerated" and "extreme" example "to show how bad our society has become".

"Clearly Rosie Winterton doesn't understand hyperbole," he added.

But he then went on to make further remarks which are likely to stoke the political row, insisting that "even one of the worst societies in the world can teach us something about an ordered society".

He added: "They have an ordered system of family life.

"It is not one that I support but it is an ordered system of family life.

"All I am saying in this country, we have no order at all in family life - no discipline, no deterrence - and we have mayhem in the home and on the streets of our towns."

When asked what he meant by "ordered society", he added: "As far as I am aware, they don't have to have an army of social workers going around to check if children are being abused.

"We unfortunately have created this sort of society.

"I'm not flying the flag for the Taliban. I detest them probably more than Rosie Winterton does.

"I have not a lot of time for the Muslim faith anyway."

Quizzed on this last point he said that as a former religious studies teacher and "expert on the subject" he was talking on a "philosophical" level.

"I'm a great fan of Buddhism and to a lesser extent of Hinduism but I have never greatly been entertained by the Muslim faith.

"It's just a philosophical, academic argument."

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