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“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for August 7th, 2010

The Most Ideological PM.

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Max Dunbar does a marvellous job of seeing behind the Cameron façade:

This is a fundamental misreading. We can judge a man by the company he keeps, and the content-free PR boss has surrounded himself with extremists and ideologues. He took the party out of the EU’s moderate conservative alliance to form an association with fringe anti-semites and SS fetishists. When the MEP Edward McMillan-Scott protested, he was expelled. Cameron’s A-list candidate for Sutton and Cheam, Philippa ‘Pray the Gay Away’ Stroud, is a Christian fundamentalist who once owned a chain of hostels dedicated to ‘curing’ alcoholics, addicts and the sexually confused; when Stroud lost what should have been a safe seat, he appointed her a special adviser at the DWP.

Stroud leads the Centre for Social Justice, a thinktank set up by Iain Duncan Smith to take the edge off the Conservatives’ public image. (IDS has said as much: he told the Guardian that the party needs to ’present a set of values which represent compassion… You need people to say, rather like they say about Labour, actually these are OK, they are decent people, their heart is in the right place.’) Abortion limit monomaniac Nadine Dorries has been backed by Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON); its director Andrea Williams believes, according to the New Statesman’s Sunny Hundal, ’that abortion should be illegal, homosexuality is sinful and the world is 4,000 years old.’ Williams also runs the Christian Legal Centre, a pressure group that plants stories in soft media about nurses having their crosses yanked from their necks by uncaring NHS managers and Christian registrars forced to perform civil partnerships at gunpoint. Incredibly, it has been linked with Blackwater, the notorious mercenary army.

Cameron’s Conservative Party has an unhealthy reliance on web-based activism. The influence of the Conservative Home site in Tory circles is undisputed. Its founder, Tim Montgomerie, set up the Conservative Christian Fellowship when he was a nineteen-year-old student at Exeter – can there be a clearer example of a misspent youth? – and its membership now numbers around thirty Tory MPs and at least one Secretary of State. And finally, Cameron’s former chief of staff also used to be the research director for the Young Britons Foundation, a Monday-Club style subgroup that advocates abolishing the NHS and sends its members to residential camps that include training in sub-machine guns and assault rifles.

In this context, the Big Society can be seen as a return to Victorian politics when social welfare was the responsibility of the churches and the occasional eccentric billionaire. David Cameron is the most ideological PM since Thatcher and shares her ambition to return to a pre welfare state society. But at least Thatcher was honest about her convictions. Under the Big Society Cameron’s brave and empowered citizens will queue at the poor-house, food vouchers in hand, while the Jesus Army looks after the kids.

Update 1: For American readers here are a few pointers to the history of the Poor House and Work Houses in Britain.

Update 2: Flesh is Grass has a rather good piece on Tory changes in the provision of schools in Britain.

Update 3: In an unrelated instance the Torygraph informs us that Church of England charity set to receive £5million from Government. Hmm.

Written by modernityblog

07/08/2010 at 17:49

Taliban Murder Medical Workers.

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Another example of the Taliban’s real attitude, which should cause their Western supporters, apologists and excuses a moment’s thought, AFP has more:

“Kintoz said they were shot by armed men in a remote area of Badakhshan province, according to the testimony of “Saifullah”, an Afghan who survived.

The group of eight ophthalmologists had been travelling with three Afghans between Badakhshan and Nuristan provinces and spent a few nights in the forest, he reported Saifullah as saying.

“On the last day they were confronted by a group of armed men who lined them up and shot them. Their money and belongings were all stolen,” said Kintoz.

He said that according to Saifullah’s testimony he had escaped death by reading verses of the Koran, prompting the men to realise he was a Muslim and release him in neighbouring Nuristan province.

The police chief said local villagers had warned the group not to enter the dangerous forested area, but they had insisted they would be safe because they were doctors, according to Saifullah’s statement.

He said the bodies had been found in Kuran wa Minjan district, an area on the border with Nuristan province, one day’s drive from the provincial capital Faizabad.”

Update 1: The BBC with sweeping naivete seems to take the Taliban at their word, when they state:

“Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, said bibles translated into Dari had been found.”

Even if they had carried copies of Playboy, they should not have been murdered.

They were doctors and aid workers trying to help ordinary Afghans, that should be enough.

Update 2: Another part of the Beeb has at least covered the human side of their murder:

“Blog posts written by Briton Dr Karen Woo, named as one of 10 medics shot dead in Afghanistan, offer a human insight into the aid mission to the war-torn country.

The BBC understands that Dr Woo gave up a well-paid job with private healthcare provider Bupa to work in Afghanistan for minimal financial reward.

She died alongside six Americans, a German and two Afghan interpreters who had been working with Christian charity the International Assistance Mission to provide eye care in remote villages.

Her blog posts reveal that she was driven by a desire to improve the lives of ordinary Afghans – and spread the word about their plight.

On the blog-hosting website Bridge Afghanistan, Dr Woo described the effect on her of a 2009 visit to Kabul, and told of her plans to make a documentary.

“The things that I saw during that visit made me, as a doctor, want to bring back the human stories both good and bad,” she wrote.

“The access that a doctor or healthcare professional has to a community is unlike that available to a journalist; the trust and conversations are different.

“The insight is through the lens of birth and death, of loss and disability, and reflects every aspect of the consequences of conflict on individuals and on their community.” “

Update 3: Dr Woo’s blog is here.

Update 4: Dr Woo followed this particular blog, Thru Afghan Eyes and it is good.

Written by modernityblog

07/08/2010 at 12:35