Category Archives: Tory Scum

They Are Coming For The Internet – New Porn and Copyright Laws Could Criminalise Millions

facepalmIf you ever needed confirmation that the UK is not run by a shadowy cabal of sinister plotters but a bunch of chinless fucking idiots then the upcoming Digital Economy Bill is a good place to start.

As well as massively increasing personal information sharing amongst government departments, the proposed new laws will seek to ensure that all pornographic content available on the internet in the UK carries an age verification system.   The bill will also introduce new copyright legislation which could mean that simply sharing or retweeting an internet meme, such as the one that accompanies this post, could mean prosecution with a maximum penalty of ten years imprisonment.  Really.

According to the government age-verification is necessary to protect children from the danger of online porn.  And wouldn’t it be nice if it were that easy.  The reality is that this bill will do nothing to stop teenagers accessing porn but will create a potentially chilling effect on all creators of online material which could be said to be adult in nature.  If this legislation is successfully implemented then it is unlikely to end there.  If seeing sex on the internet is banned for under 18s then why not violence, or swearing, or anything else that government censors decide is unfit for young minds?

Of course this legislation will not be successful because it was drafted by a bunch of dickheads who don’t appear to have ever used the internet.  They can’t even decide what internet pornography is, insisting that anything which would normally carry an 18 certificate, and which is designed to sexually stimulate, should be covered by the law.  So content creators will not even know that they need to provide age verification until some state-appointed literal wanker decides that they are pornographers.  The new laws will also apply to content which is sound only, ominously bringing the written word under censorship laws.  Sites hosting ebooks with erotic content may find themselves falling foul of the legislation.  We could be heading back to the days when someone faces legal sanctions for publishing Lady Chatterley’s Lover in an audio format.

At a protest this week outside parliament, feminist and queer porn producers warned this law will shut them down leaving only the big mainstream porn companies able to afford the age verification software that will be necessary to comply with the law.  And astonishingly this software does not yet exist – the government has decided that the market will somehow invent a solution.  Anti-privacy campaigners have warned this will lead to the creation of giant databases detailing the UK’s porn watching habits, with all the risk that entails of that information being released to the public.  Of equal concern is that there is a shitload of adult content on sites like twitter, tumblr and wordpress, potentially meaning that social media and blogs may also be required to implement age verification.

None of this will have any impact on the availability of online porn, most of which is not produced in the UK.  These sites will only face the possibility of the government asking credit card companies to refuse to process payments from the UK.  They may well tell the government to fuck off.  And it is unlikely that the large number of youtube style porn sites, who are largely funded by advertising, will give a shit either.  All this legislation is likely to achieve is the annihilation of an industry catering to sexual minorities and massive insecurity for anyone making edgy or erotic content who could face sanctions if they accidentally give a government censor a hard-on.

The new copyright laws are equally draconian. The Open Rights Group, who campaign to protect free speech and privacy online, warn that simply sharing a well known image online could lead to prosecution, using the archetypal image of the Vietnamese child suffering napalm burns as an example.  Millions of social media users may soon find that many of their posts are technically illegal.  The group also caution that these new laws could affect teenage file sharers, with a new threat of prosecution for anyone uploading to torrent sites.  The same government that wants to protect young people from seeing sex is quite happy to terrify them with the threat of prosecution and jail if they impact even in the slightest way on the profits of the giant entertainment corporations.

What these laws are attempting to do is change the culture of the internet in the UK.  Most of the internet is not in the UK though and will carry on as normal.  Meanwhile those of us here will face complex censorships rules and petty legal action – such as the recent attempt by police to prosecute a man for having a video of someone dressed up in a tiger suit having sex.  A government which introduces laws which will affect millions of its citizens is a dangerous thing.  That they seem to be doing it by accident is even more chilling.  Much like the police, don’t assume that just because they are stupid it means they aren’t dangerous.

You can sign a petition aimed at stopping this bill at: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/ensuring-personal-privacy-and-sexual-freedom

I’m back by the way, but will be some time before I’m up to full speed.  DWP/benefits stuff is coming up.

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Shocking Transphobia From Evangelical Group Linked To Stephen Crabb

crabb-brentIt is not just gay and lesbian people that are sinners in need of a cure according to the Evangelical Alliance – the extremist Christian group who boast Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb as one of the council members of their voluntary sector offshoot in Wales.  Those who are transsexual are also targetted by the organisation.

In a report published in 2000 the group say they oppose the use of surgery as treatment for gender dysphoria and insist that an ‘authentic’ sex change is both impossible and incompatible with God’s will.  Mirroring their attitude towards lesbian and gay people, the Alliance say transsexuals should be welcomed into the church, but that they ‘hope and anticipate’ that transsexual Christians will accept the need to ‘re-orientate their lifestyle with God’s teachings’.  In return the church should offer ongoing care following ‘gender re-orientation’.

The report also endorses discrimination against transgender people in the workplace, claiming that in principle they oppose this, but in practice some circumstances may make the continuing position of a transsexual  ‘extremely difficult’ whether or not they were transitioning.

A later report on transsexuality was published by the Evangelical Alliance in 2006, in association with Parakaleo Ministeries.  This report is no longer available online, but a quote discussing Caitlin Jenner from Parakaleo ‘s website gives a hint of what to expect: “The sick national conspiracy to pretend that Bruce Jenner is a woman because he is mentally confused, has surgically mutilated his male body, and received plastic reconstruction surgery to give him a not entirely successful appearance as a woman, to the fanfare of the twisted leftwing elite.”  This is compassion, evangelical style.

More recently the Alliance published a glowing review of a book by Christian psychologist Mark Yarhouse discussing church responses to transsexuality.  Yarhouse believes one way of looking at gender dysphoria is as a “disability resulting from living in a fallen world”.  In a somewhat garbled rant he seems to say that cross gender identitity compromises the “sacred integrity of maleness or femaleness implicit in the body” and calls for transsexual people to be drawn into the ‘transformative’ power of Jesus Christ.

Yarhouse believes that through a “combination of holistic therapy and professional psychotherapy” those who are transgender will “accept their true selves as created by God”.  He calls for compassion during this process, saying if a transsexual person shares their name with him, then he will use it along with any desired pronouns, as an act of respect.

This is a bit much for the Evangelical Alliance who comment that some Christians might be nervous Yarhouse is making “too many concessions towards colluding with illusion and deception.”  They agree with the general argument though which is that transsexual people should be welcomed into the church and then cured.  Or in their words churches should point transsexuals to “the transformative work of Jesus Christ who created each individual and knows them from the moment of conception and is able to lead them to acceptance rather than rejection of their true selves – body, soul and spirit.”

The review of Yarhouse’s book was written by  Don Horrocks who also wrote the Evangelical Alliance’s Transexuality report in 2000.  Horrocks was Head of Public Affairs at the Evangelical Alliance until retiring recently.  Stephen Crabb sits on the Council of Reference of GWEINI, the voluntary sector offshoot controlled by the Evangelical Alliance.  It is inconceivable that he was unaware of the views of this organisation – they never shut up about LGBT people.  It was only once he got a top job, and decided he wanted to be Tory leader that he had a sudden conversion to LGBT equality.  He has never condemned his evangelical colleagues.  Were a senior minister linked to a group that promoted extremist racial or religious hatred then they would be gone from government office in seconds.  Crabb however has shrugged this off like it is nothing.  That says everything you need to know abut the true beliefs of not just Crabb, but also the party he seeks to lead.

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Stephen Crabb Sits On Council Of Gay Cure Church Front Group

crabb-resignMore appalling revelations have emerged in this week’s Private Eye about DWP boss and Tory leadership hopeful Stephen Crabb’s links to religious organisations with extremist views on gay and lesbian people.

According to their website, Crabb sits on the Council of Reference of GWEINI, a group which claims to represent the Christian voluntary sector in Wales.  In reality however they appear to be a front group for the Evangelical Alliance who support gay cures in some cases and believe that sexually active gay and lesbian people – even those in committed relationships – should be subject to church dicipline.

The chairperson of GWEINI is Elfed Godding who is also the national director of Evangelical Alliance Wales with whom they share a phone number and address.  They operate under the same charity registration number as the UK wide Evangelical Alliance and explain on their website that GWEINI is “Evangelical Alliance Wales working with other Christian agencies in the nation.”  One of those agencies is CARE, the group that Stephen Crabb once enjoyed a “fantastic year” with as an intern and who in 2009 funded a ‘gay cure’ conference where amongst other things they discussed “mentoring the sexually broken”.  Joining Crabb on GWEINI’s Council of Reference is his old friend Lyndon Bowring, the Executive Chairman of CARE.

CARE have watered down their public opposition to gay and lesbian people recently, but you can’t say the same for the Evangelical Alliance .  In 2012 the they published a book called ‘Biblical and pastoral responses to homosexuality’ to address what they said was an urgent need for guidance on matters relating to sexuality.  To read it is like stepping back in time.  Whilst the Alliance offer sympathy to those that experience ‘same sex attraction’ they insist that any sexual activity between those of the same sex is a sin and incompatible with Christian life.

Instead lesbian and gay Christians should be supported to live chastely says the group and church leaders are encouraged to support ‘reparative therapy’ – meaning an attempt to cure them of homosexuality – for those that want it.  They say they “welcome and support … those who  offer counsel and pastoral support” to help gay and lesbian people live a “chaste life” claiming that part of this process may mean some “experience changes in the strength or direction of their same-sex attractions”.  According to the Alliance there is “plenty of anecdotal evidence” that gay and lesbian sexualities can be changed.

This doesn’t mean they are homophobic they inist, saying they welcome gay and lesbians into churches as long as they don’t ever have sex.  But they also warn that “habitual homoerotic sexual activity without repentance”, and those who promote it, should be diciplined by, or even kicked out of their churches.  And they mean it.  In 2012 they expelled a Oasis, an evangelical ministry who published a piece on their website arguing that monogamous same-sex relationships are not sinful.  They are still happy to work with Stephen Crabb though.

Crabb, who voted against gay marriage, has insisted that he does not support a gay cure.  Yet he is embedded within an evangelical movement who actively promote such practices and who make no secret of their opposition to LGBT people.  Will the real Stephen Crabb ever actually stand up?  Or perhaps, given the appalling bigots he is happy to be associated with, he should stand down.

If you have any doubts about where this group stands read the Evangelical Alliance’s 10 affirmations which they say summarises their position on lesbian and gay people.

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Shades Of The Workhouse, Lord Fraud Hints At Mandatory Jobs Training In Hostels And Women’s Refuges

lord-fraud-freud1People fleeing domestic violence, care leavers and those who are homeless could be required to take part in ’employability courses’ as a condition of accessing supported housing Lord Fraud has hinted today.

The Minister for Welfare Reform was giving a speech to the Chartered Institute of Housing discussing upcoming changes to funding for the supported housing sector.  George Osborne has previously announced that the upcoming Benefit Cap will apply to those living in supported housing, meaning Housing Benefit payments will be slashed.  Currently this benefit is used to fund the additional costs of providing this kind of accommodation such as staff and security costs.  Homelessness charities have warned that almost half a million homes could be at risk when the cap on these payments is introduced.

In response the DWP have agreed to postpone the cap for one year whilst a review of supported housing funding is carried out.  And whilst there were no clear policy announcements in Lord Fraud’s speech, the direction of travel is clear.

Whilst praising the work of many larger supported housing providers, Fraud says he want to “root out sub-standard treatment” on the “rare occassions” it exists hinting that for the first time that the government plans to meddle in service provision – and use funding cuts as a weapon.  He also said that reforms offer an opportunity to think about a “quality and an outcomes focus” suggesting some form of performance related model, similiar to the disastrous Work Programme, is being considered.

Perhaps most chillingly Lord Fraud praised the work being done by the Bromford housing association that requires tenants to agree to a package of training and support as a condition of their tenancy.  Fears have been rightly raised that this training could include unpaid work experience, raising the prospect of forced work in return for housing. According to the minister “Bromford are using their relationship with tenants to get them ready for the world of work and away from benefit dependency.”

Fraud also heaped admiration on known workfare exploiters the YMCA who he says “award points towards moving into a self-contained flat for engaging with education, training and employment.”

A report is soon to be published which will give us further indication of the government’s plans for supported housing.  The DWP’s intentions are clear however.  In the conclusion to his speech Fraud spoke of the his department’s determination to bring about a “lower welfare society” and that people should be given tools and support, but also ‘incentives’ to find and stay in work. For those on out of work benefits these incentives usually mean sanctions and workfare.

Lord Fraud talks a lot of shit and it is too soon to draw any firm conclusions about the government’s plans.  But it is not difficult to imagine what any future reform might look like.  Hostels given job outcome targets and the power to compel residents to attend work related activity – which could include workfare – as a condition of being given a bed looks like one likely scenario.  The workhouse grows ever closer.  Any attempt to introduce some form of work related activity or compulsory training as a condition of accessing supported housing must be fiercely resisted.

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The True Horrors Of In-work Benefit Sanctions Have Not Yet Been Understood

sanction-sabsSo called hard-working people will soon be abandoned to unprecedented poverty when payments intended to cover housing costs are sanctioned for the first time under sweeping reforms to in-work benefits.

When Universal Credit is fully introduced (stop laughing) part-time workers on a low income will be expected to constantly look for more, or better paid work as a condition of receiving vital in-work benefits.  Any failure on the part of claimants to prove that they carried out constant job searching in the hours they were not working will mean benefits are sanctioned.

For claimants who are unemployed the sanction system will remain largely unchanged under Universal Credit.  Those without health problems who are sanctioned will lose all of their personal benefits except what is required to pay for housing costs or children.  This will mean a childless claimant will have no money at all once they have paid their rent – although they may be eligible to apply for emergency Hardship Payments of around £40 a week.  It is this nasty regime that has led to the explosion in foodbanks and been linked to a growing number of suicides.

If this same claimant is in part time work then they may not receive any additional benefits other than the housing element of Universal Credit – the replacement for what is now known as Housing Benefit.  And so, for the first time, it is this benefit which will be sanctioned should they fail to carry out Jobcentre demands to look for additional work.

Working claimants who are sanctioned will lose the same amount as those who are unemployed  – the equivalent of a current weekly dole payment of £71.70.  That means if some is working on a low income and claiming help with their housing costs then £71.70 will be deducted from their benefit.  To see the full horror of how this will play out in some people’s lives then you have to do some sums.

Take a single, childless person in Bristol working at the current minimum wage for 20 hours a week and paying £120 a week in rent – the local housing allowace rate in the area for a claimant over 35.  Under Universal Credit this person will have a weekly income of £244 made up of £144 a week in wages and £100 a week in benefits.  Once their rent is paid this will leave them with £124 a week.  If they are sanctioned however they will lose £73.10 leaving them with just £50.90 a week to live on.  That’s over £20 a week less than the current dole and just £10 a week more than Hardship Payments.  Universal Credit will therefore not make work pay for those who have been sanctioned.  It will however make work compulsory.

The claimant will not be able to leave their job without risking a disallowance – meaning no benefits at all.  In the hours they are not working they will still be expected to carry out work related activity to look for a better job, which under current rules, could include some form of workfare.  The meagre income they receive means they will be unlikely to qualify for additional Hardship Payments.  And astonishingly they are also likely to have to pay Council Tax out of that sum.
In Bristol they would be expected to pay around £9 a week in Council Tax assuming they lived in the lowest possible band.  This brings their weekly income down to about £42 a week – and they are working.

A weeky bus pass in Bristol costs £23.80.  Claimants must be prepared to travel at least 90 minutes on public transport to their job so in most cases this will be a necessary expense.  This will mean hard working people surviving on less than £20 a week for food, clothes, basic hygiene costs and bills.  That of course assumes they aren’t subject to the Bedroom Tax in which case they will get no money at all in some cases, just a steadily increasing debt.

The only real option for most will be to dig into money intended to cover rent.  For working claimants a sanction will mean inevitable rent arrears – and as a sanction can last up to three years – for many it will mean homelessness.  And therefore eventual joblessness.  And with no benefits because losing their job will have been deemed to be their own fault.

This system is designed to ‘incentivise’ people to look for more, or better paid work.  So imagine, by some fucking miracle, that an in-work benefit sanction doesn’t destroy someone, it motivates them.  That they pull their socks up and by some other fucking miracle manage to find an additional job which doesn’t clash with their existing hours.  Let’s say they gain an additional 10 hours a week work on the Minimum Wage.  Will it make any difference?  Barely, because the sanction will still apply unless they have been working full time for a period of six months.

Much of their additional wages will be eaten up by housing costs as their already sanctioned claim is reduced the more they earn.  So somebody working 30 hours a week, with a sanction, in the cicrumstances described above, would receive a total of £207.68 a week in wages and no Universal Credit at all.  After rent and Council Tax is paid that will leave them with £77.  Less than a fiver more than the current dole.  For working 30 hours a week.

There is nothing particularly special about this claimant’s circumstances other than that they live in the south of England where rents are higher.  In London and other areas many will fare even worse.  There should be no doubt about what these sanctions are intended to do.  This is the bureacratic annihilation of an individual as a message to everybody else that if you do not comply – that if you do not constantly strive – the government will destroy you.  It is like nothing that has been seen in UK legislation since the horrors of the workhouse.

According to the DWP benefit sanctions are only used as a ‘last resort’.  There have been 1.6 million ‘last resorts’ since the system was toughened in 2012.  In work benefit sanctions are already being trialled in some parts of the UK with desperate results.  The extension of this brutal regime will create in-work poverty that has rarely, if ever, been seen before in the UK.  People working for pennies, with no quality of life at all. Those already living in the cheapest possible accommodation that can be found in most of the country facing homelessness.  Some of these people will be ill, wrongly found fit for work by Atos or Maximus.  Some will be left with no money at all depending on if they are subject to the Beneift Cap or Bedroom Tax.  Others will have debts they will never hope to pay back whilst sanctioned and so will just get bigger and bigger.

An in-work benefit sanction for many will be a life sentence, especially for those who are older and carry any debts incurred into retirement.  For others it will be a death sentence as the strain of extreme poverty, hard work and constant Jobcentre harassment pushes some over the edge.  DWP ministers are happy to accept this collateral damage as part of their attempt to dicipline the working class into accepting a life of hard-working drudgery for poverty pay.  The only question that now remains is will the trade unions, charities and others that have cowardly accepted vicious welfare refoms continue their co-operation when it is their own workers and members who are subject to this torment?

You can read the current rules for Universal Credit, and many other benefits at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/advice-for-decision-making-staff-guide

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Who Will Be Hit By Benefit Cap? People Like Stephen Crabbs’ Own Mother

crabb-cap2

An estimate of Stephen Crabb’s mother’s benefit claim were she raising children today.

New Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb would have faced possible homelessness and desperate poverty as a child if the benefit reforms he is introducing had been in place.

Savage new rules due to come into force in Autumn will slash social security to £20,000 a year for parents unable to work due to unemployment, sickness,  disability* or caring responsibilities.   This will leave many struggling families with just a few pounds a week to feed their children after eye-watering rents have been paid.  According to Crabb the caps on benefits are necessary to avoid ‘sky high’ payments and will incentivise single parents – even those with newly born babies – to get a job.  Yet the people who will suffer most from this cut will be lone parents just like his own mother.

Crabb has been all too happy to drag his family’s traumatic past into the spotlight when it serves his political needs.  He has spoken at length of the poverty his mother suffered when – in his words – she became “welfare dependent”.  In an interview with The Spectator he even admits to truanting from school so he could work on a farm to buy some trainers.  This was around the time his hero Margaret Thatcher claimed that “people who are living in need are fully and properly provided for”.  So fuck knows what he’s complaining about.  Perhaps he thinks children should have to work on farms so they can afford shoes.

Crabb says he was just 8 years old when his mother left a violent relationship with his father and took him and his two brothers to Scotland where they stayed in a spare room in his grandparent’s council property.  Of course this was before the Bedroom Tax intended to stop council tenants from having an extra room that extended families or grandchildren could stay in.  And this is far from the only protection that Crabb’s mother relied on that has been brutally dismantled by the current Tory government.

After returning from Scotland, Crabb’s mother was able to secure a council property in Haverdfordwest, the area of Pembrokeshire they had previously fled from.  Today chronic social housing shortages would leave Crabb’s mother abandoned to the far more expensive and insecure private rented sector – assuming she wasn’t forced into homelessness and sub-standard temporary accommodation.

The Tory government has already slashed housing benefit payments for private sector tenants by introducing  a four year freeze on payments regardless of how much rents rise.  They also introduced new rules to ensure that housing benefits would only cover the cheapest 30% of properties in the local area.  Whilst rents in Haverfordwest are far lower than many parts of the UK, a search of one of the largest property websites reveals there are only two 3 bedroom flats in the area which have rents low enough to be met by the £120.83 a week housing benefit rate for the town.

Her problems would not end there.  According to the government’s recommended benefits calculator an unemployed lone parent with three children would currently be entitled to £413 a week (plus Council Tax Support) in Haverfordwest .  This is too much according to Crabb who seems to be relishing the chance to lower the benefit cap to just £384.55 a week.  That’s nearly £30 quid a week Crabb is taking from people just like his own mother.

This is the reality of the modern Tory Party.  They are only too happy to take when it suits them.  Look at the number of Oxbridge MPs whose elite university education was paid for by the tax payer.  But they don’t want anyone else to have it.  The horrifying truth is that it is people exactly like Crabb’s mother who have been attacked over and over again by vicous social security reforms.  That doesn’t mean life wasn’t bleak in the 1980s for those on benefits.  But the toxic combination of housing shortages, benefit sanctions, workfare and successive cuts, caps and freezes to child benefits mean that many lone parents today face complete destitution.  And it’s about to get much worse.

If even mid size families in low rent South Wales are to be hit by the cap, the situation in many cities will be even more dire.  A family with three kids in Bristol –  assuming they can find a property at the local housing allowance rate – will be left with just over £200 a week.  In Brighton they will have just £154 a week.  In Hackney, in spite of the cap being slightly higher in London, they will be left with £88 – just £2.50 per person per day.  This will be Stephen Crabb’s legacy.  The re-introduction of poverty not seen in generations into the UK.

*The government are claming disabled people are exempt from the cap.  This is a lie, only the most severely disabled people are exempt.  Many claimants, including those with serious conditions such as cancer, MS or Parkinson’s Disease will be affected.

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Vile Tory Who Referred To Scummy Housing Estates To Speak At Workfare Industry’s Annual Meeting

frasernelson

Pub bore rants for hire, Fraser Nelson will speak at the workfare industry’s AGM.

A hard right magazine editor who once referred to ‘scummy’ Scottish social housing estates and cheered unemployed people being forced to sleep under a bridge has been invited to be to keynote speaker at the latest tax-payer funded skive for welfare-to-work bosses.

Fraser Nelson, who oversees the pub bore rants published in The Spectator, will be speak at the annual general meeting of the Employment Related Services Asscoiation (ERSA), the trade body established to lie on behalf of the workfare industry.  Nelson is an avid supporter of coercing people to work without pay and once claimed that those sent to sleep under a bridge before being used as unpaid stewards at the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations were being given an opportunity to show they were ‘dutiful’ workers.  According to Nelson forcing ‘suspected malingerers’ to work in return for benefit payments is ‘tough love’.  So tough, in fact, that it can kill, as the growing number of deaths linked to benefit sanctions and welfare reform reveals.

Nelson has previously faced protests after referring to the Glasgow districts of Castlemilk and Easterhouse as “beautiful names, scummy estates”.  When called on to justify these comments he launched into in a vile tirade about “drug-addled welfare ghettoes” where children play around broken vodka bottles and pubs were boarded up to save them from attack.

Nelson’s invitation to speak at ERSA’s annual meeting is a new low for the welfare-to-work sector that often attempts to hide behind a mask of caring for the poorest whilst demolishing their lives with forced work and benefit sanctions.  But with Iain Duncan Smith’s spending spree coming to an abrupt end the workfare industry will need hacks like Nelson to ramp up the rhetoric to justify ever more government spending to persecute unemployed and disabled people.  He will be happy to oblige.  Despite reams of evidence that unpaid work has little or no value in helping people into sustainable jobs and risks driving people into desperate poverty there are few bigger workfare cheerleaders than Fraser Nelson.

The event is being held this Wednesday at the swanky London offices of top law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, an understandable choice for the fraud ridden welfare-to-work industry. Keep your Tory friends close, but keep the lawyers even closer.

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