Daily archives: July 4, 2010

The 4.45pm Link

Interesting piece from the curmudgeon on welfare reform.


We should not forget the extent to which every possible step was taken to discourage benefit claimants already under New Labour.

A friend of mine who works in what used to be called a Jobs Centre says it is heartbreaking to see the unemployed who have worked all their lives, sometimes in quite senior positions, now being put through the deliberately humiliating and onerous process of claiming benefit. They have to show they have applied every week for numerous often inappropriate jobs and continually provide evidence of their rejection.

She says that there really does exist a class of benefit scrounger who have no intention of working. They are precisely the ones who are not discouraged. They know how to fill the forms, happily send off a quota of hopeless online job applications every week, and don’t mind explaining themselves to a gormless eighteen year old clerk who has the power to send them and their family to starvation. It is the honest people humiliated at having to claim benefits who can’t cope and fall through the net.

That is the problem with making benefits harder to claim – you discourage the wrong people.

The interesting thing is that the staff do know broadly who are real and who are the scroungers – but they are not allowed to use discretion, but have to make decisions according to set procedures and criteria based on form filling and production of meaningless rejection letter paperwork.. Absolutely symptomatic of New Labour’s Britain.

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Westminster Foundation For Torture


This is Linda Duffield’s take on the vexed moral question on whether or not it can be justifiable to boil somebody alive to obtain information from them:

There were difficult ethical and moral issues involved and at times difficult judgements had to be made weighing one clutch of “moral issues” against another. It was not always easy for people in post (embassies) to see and appreciate the broader picture, eg piecing together intelligence material from different sources in the global fight against terrorism.


Linda is now the chief executive of the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, an all-party supported organisation, funded by the FCO, to spread democracy abroad. This is their blurb:

Established in 1992, WFD is an independent public body sponsored by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, from which it receives an annual grant. Over the years we have grown in strength and diversity, working to achieve sustainable political change in emerging democracies. Working with and through partner organisations, we seek to strengthen the institutions of democracy, principally political parties (through the work of the UK political parties), parliaments and the range of institutions that make up civil society. We believe that, for a democracy to flourish, all of these institutions must be strong and sustainable.

I don’t imagine this includes training in the reasons why it can be OK for a democracy to condone boiling people alive, but who knows? I have worked with WFD in Poland and it used to do very good work, but it was distorted by Blair to focus its work in support of places we were invading, occupying, bombing or selling arms to. See how many of the current case studies on its website fall into that category?


And what an interesting gathering this was in Prague of the proponents of “democracy” by invasion, organised by “democracyandsecurity.org”.


The conference brought together Richard Perle, Aznar, the American Enterprise Institute, the exiled Cuban opposition, numerous Israeli representatives and the neo-con funded Amir Abbas Fakhravr of the “Iranian Freedom Institute of the USA”. From Wikipedia about Fakhravr:

In late April 2006, he arrived in the United States from Dubai where he had been greeted by Richard Perle [5] who interrupted his trip to central Asia in order to meet Fakhravar in a hotel. [23] They had been in touch through a contact since 2003. [23] Their meeting in Dubai was recorded and some of it is included in a documentary titled “The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom”. [24][25]

Since his arrival he has called for a unified Iranian opposition to the Islamic government, in order to bring regime change in Iran. [23] He has had several meetings with American officials from the Pentagon to the State Department, as well as with Vice President Dick Cheney.[26]

Some very interesting other delegates included the Las Vegas Sands Corp.. From Wikipedia:

Las Vegas Sands Corp. (NYSE: LVS) is a casino resort company based in Paradise, Nevada. It is the world’s leading Casino based company with a market capitalization of $17.3 billion as of April 2010. At one point in 2007, it had a market capitalization of $43.7 billion, making its majority shareholder, Sheldon Adelson, one of the world’s richest men.

Any idea what they were doing there? Oh yes, and Linda Duffield was there too. Doubtless it was relaxing to be in the company of so many who might share her views on the efficacy of torture.

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