Tory conference wingnut tracker


1:44 pm - October 8th 2012

by Don Paskini    


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It can be hard to keep up with the torrent of wingnuttia spewing out of the Tory Party conference this week. Here are the ‘highlights’ so far:

“Scotland could end up making North Korea look like a model of free enterprise”, according to Scottish Tory leader Mitt Romney Ruth Davidson. Her claims are based on research from wingnut welfare group the Centre for Policy Studies which claims that teachers, doctors, pensioners, people who need lots of medical treatment, police officers and soldiers (to give just a few examples) are ‘takers’ who receive more than they contribute.

Jeremy Hunt started Tory war on women week with his support for halving the abortion limit, and George Osborne followed up with plans for a further £10 billion in welfare cuts.

George Osborne announced plans to get the rich to contribute more by cutting taxes on their income, and ruling out new taxes on their wealth or property.

He also announced a new scheme which he referred to as ‘Workers of the World unite’ where workers would lose employment rights in exchange for the company that they used to work for before they got fired.

Meanwhile, the Tory grassroots have been rallying against the thing that fears and horrifies them most – the idea that two people who love each other should be legally entitled to get married.

We’ll be keeping this updated during the week – do add any other examples of extreme wingnuttia in the comments below.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Reader comments


1. the a&e charge nurse

Is Hunt aware anomaly scans are not done ’til around 18-20 weeks?
http://nhslocal.nhs.uk/story/anomaly-scan

Trying to keep track of the loonies at a Tory conference is like trying to keep track of the grains of sand on a beach

Just picked this priceless line

“Where is the fairness, we ask, for the shift-worker, leaving home in the dark hours of the early morning, who looks up at the closed blinds of their next door neighbour sleeping off a life on benefits?”

so benefits people keep their blinds closed?

http://www.cpc12.org.uk/Speeches/George_Osborne.aspx

the rationale for this perspective is being speculated on in the Guardian

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2012/oct/08/curtains-closed-blinds-down-george-osborne?INTCMP=SRCH

I suppose it’s a very good example of how the language of the left has been co-opted by the right to mean something very different. ‘Freedom’ is now the stalking horse of inequality, and inequality the stalking horse of submission.
Workers of the world unite, in being on your knees.

Osborne:

“You automatically get extra money when you have a child, so you can be better off,” he said. “We are just asking the question, does that work? Is that the right value we have in our society?”

Apparently they’re considering reducing benefits if a claimant has another child. Maybe Osborne values children if they’re either rich or the edible poor.

The ‘perfect storm’ here is that a low-paid pregnant mother (with one more children) is either penalised for having another kid, or loses her job (or her partner loses theirs) after having the child, or loses she loses her job at, say 14 weeks, which would be too late for a termination if Jeremy Hunt had his way over abortion. Plus, if they’re under 25 they might not get any housing benefit anyway.

@redpesto
This no more money for extra children idea.. very populist with those that like to condemn the scroungers but a few problems (off the top of my head)..

at what point does the UK version of the Chinese One child family kick in? If you have 3 children and get made redundant or hubby (or wife) clears off leaving you as a one parent family…do they tell you that you won’t get money for little xxxxx as you have over the quota
or does it only apply to parents on the dole at the time of birth (I won’t ask what happens if your scenario happens and you lose your job between conception and birth – too many paramters there!)

Secondly One of Peter Lilly’s single parent types disobeys the rules and has another child (I wonder are excepmptions made for failed contraception as exceptional circumstances – or would you be required to have an abortion?)
Anyway back to the mother who has exceeded her quota… she can’t afford to bring her children up, so Social Services step in and take them into care – at a cost to the state of around £70K a year – not to mention the trauma to the children (but I assume non-quota children will have fewer human rights??)

I knew the Tories were low but getting policy from the bile on the Daily Mail forums is going some even for them.

@Redfish – It becomes more comical once you realise that rather than ‘enforced abortions’ they’re moving more toward ‘no abortions at all’.

The point being to saddle women with children they can’t afford to pay for so they’re over a barrel and have to work for cheap.
http://sideshow.me.uk/annex/defeattherightin3minutes.htm

Wasn’t one of the main reasons the Australian Liberal Party lost the election and John Howard lose his seat heavily because they wanted to scrap employment laws?

@5

Just a couple of points:

– there is no reason in 2012 why any woman should get pregnant if she doesn’t want to (a few exceptions, no doubt)

– So why should a taxpayer on minimum wage who controls their number of children ( or anyone else) pay tax so that someone can have as many children as they want, when they can’t feed them themselves?

10. Robin Levett

@Max #8:

- So why should a taxpayer on minimum wage who controls their number of children ( or anyone else) pay tax so that someone can have as many children as they want, when they can’t feed them themselves?

What benefits is your hypothetical minimum wage taxpayer receiving? Is the minimum wage payer actually making any net contribution to the welfare state?

8

And why should tax-payers on low wages, pensions and benefits, pay for tax-credits to subsidize the wage bill of large national companies?

And isn’t denying abortion (some women don’t know they are pregnant until after 12 weeks) creating the very situation that you appear to reject, those women with money will be able to afford private remedies, poor women will either give birth, thus adding to the welfare bill. Worst case scenario,they return to the backstreet abortionist.

12. Planeshift

@8 – it is of course well known that a women can see into the future and predict whether they will split up with their partner, be widowed, have an accident that causes a disability, have a child that has a disability and thus needs care around the clock, or whether they may be made redundant.

In fact, given that everybody has a job for life on the same salary, nobody gets divorced, and everyone’s health stays the same, it’s questionable whether we actually need any benefits system at all. Despite knowing what their income and needs will be in 5, 10, 15, 20 years, these poor people still insist on having sex and having babies – its a disgrace. Personally I blame the immigrants…

13. Chaise Guevara

@ 8 Max

“So why should a taxpayer on minimum wage who controls their number of children ( or anyone else) pay tax so that someone can have as many children as they want, when they can’t feed them themselves?”

Because taking a few pennies off minimum wage taxpayers is a minor evil, whereas leaving children to starve is a major evil.

If it bothers you, we could rejig tax so that people on minimum wage pay less? Although, as Robin points out, there’s a good chance they’re net beneficiaries anyway.

Definition: “Wingnut”is used in politics as a political slur referring to a person who holds extreme, and often irrational, political views.

So let’s see how “extreme” these plans to reform welfare are in the eyes to the public:

Populus, June 2012, sample 2,023 adults:

“People on benefits should not continue to get child benefits after the first two children.” : 78% net agree, 17% net disagree.

“Total benefits should be capped so recipients cannot claim more than the average family” : 88% net agree, 8% net disagree.

“Over recent years a something-for-nothing culture has taken hold, allowing people to get away with choosing to live on benefits : 84% net agree, 12% Net disagree.

“We should not pay working age benefits to those who don’t live in this country” : 91% net agree, 4% net disagree.

“After a certain period everyone who is physically able should do some full-time work helping the community.” : 88% net agree, 10% net disagree.

“Housing benefit paid to 16 – 24 year olds most of whom could be living with their parents rather than living on benefits funded by working people.” : 80% say this is wrong, 20% this is not wrong.

Are there any other issues on which the electorate has such a strong opinion?

Benefit reforms should be broad in scope, deep in character and they will be massively supported by voters.

It seems to me that the wingnuts who oppose benefit reform fall into two categories:

1 – Those personally bleeding the system.

2 – Well-off Guardian readers and the left-wing elite who have no first-hand experience of the level of abuse that is going on.

@13 How does the question asker know that all 16-24 year old claiming housing benefits are a seperate distinct group to working people?

16. the a&e charge nurse

[13] ‘Well-off Guardian readers and the left-wing elite who have no first-hand experience of the level of abuse that is going on’ – are you talking about ‘abuse’ reported by the likes of t’fail, or a statistical analysis with some actual numbers to back up your assertion?

From what I have read it would appear the billions paid to bankers in bonuses far outstrips benefit fraud?

Did you know the head of Barclays received £6.5 mil in bonuses
http://uk.reuters.com/article/2012/02/02/uk-britain-bankers-bonuses-idUKTRE8111NW20120202

Yet Mr Diamond had to resign following the Libor scandal – while according to the torygraph ‘Barclays suffered big trading losses when Russia defaulted on its debts that year, after it emerged that its investment banking business Barclays Capital was exposed significantly above the country limit imposed at the bank. At that time, Mr Diamond was running Barclays Capital’.

Still, let’s not focus too much on rewarding failure when we have so benefit scroungers to sort out, eh?

17. Chaise Guevara

@ LondonJ

“It seems to me that the wingnuts who oppose benefit reform fall into two categories:

1 – Those personally bleeding the system.

2 – Well-off Guardian readers and the left-wing elite who have no first-hand experience of the level of abuse that is going on.”

I’m guessing you don’t actually know the answer to this, or you wouldn’t have based your opening post on ad hominem. But just in case: what IS the level of abuse that is going on?

Also, how are you defining “elite”, out of interest?

@16

I have no idea why you are raising the issue of bankers’ bonuses with me. I have not advanced any views on this and I’m not sure who you are arguing with.

That said, I have no doubt bankers’ behaviour and compensation would be excoriated by any opinion survey in this country.

But here’s a radical thought; maybe the public are opposed to abuses at either end of society – the bankers and the shirkers.

Secondly, there are various measures to show the level of abuse of welfare. Let me choose a very recent one from Liberal Conspiracy.

We have endlessly been promised on this site that the level of abuse of disability benefits was no more than 2%. Yet according to an article on this very website between 15% and 30% of those who go through the ATOS assessment find employment.

I note that my central point is not addressed: Wingnuts are those who hold marginal or extreme points of view.

On the issue of welfare, virtually all those surveyed in this country want extensive welfare reform. The wingnuts are those who want the status-quo.

Source:
http://liberalconspiracy.org/2012/09/26/over-half-ruled-by-atos-as-fit-for-work-left-unemployed/

@15 your points covered in my latest response.

@16 your points covered in my latest response too.

Not a single comment, I note, from @15 or @16 about the public’s almost universal desire for extensive welfare reform.

20. the a&e charge nurse

[17] ‘I have no idea why you are raising the issue of bankers’ bonuses with me’ – because we are talking about those who are being depicted as a drain on the system – admittedly you might not have been conditioned in quite the same way when it comes to the well off helping themselves to billions.

It was you who used the word ‘abuse’ – are we meant to understand this term as a synonym for benefit scrounger, or do you mean claiming any sort of benefit is an abuse?

Only a terminal wingnut would fail to understand that a french computer company like ATOS was never contracted to provide any sort of meaningful assessment but simply to reduce the number of people entitled to claim a certain benefit.

According to one report, The (ATOS) trainer tells trainee assessors: “If it’s more than I think 12% or 13%, you will be fed back ‘your rate is too high.'” When Bick (a GP covertly filming the training of ATOS assessors) questioned how the company could know in advance the precise proportion of people who needed to be put in this category, the trainer replied: “How do we know? I don’t know who set the criteria but that’s what we are being told.” Bick asked: “So if we put 20% in, we would get picked up on?”. He was told by the trainer that, in that scenario, his cases would be reviewed.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/jul/27/disability-benefit-assessors-film

21. Chaise Guevara

@ 17 LondonJ

“We have endlessly been promised on this site that the level of abuse of disability benefits was no more than 2%. Yet according to an article on this very website between 15% and 30% of those who go through the ATOS assessment find employment.”

Your conclusions on that thread were fallacious. I replied to you on the thread saying why that was. You didn’t respond. If you think your position is defensible, by all means move the conversation into here.

“I note that my central point is not addressed: Wingnuts are those who hold marginal or extreme points of view.”

Meh, it’s a semantic debate. LC obviously chose the word to be as dismissive as possible, but that’s hardly surprising.

“On the issue of welfare, virtually all those surveyed in this country want extensive welfare reform. The wingnuts are those who want the status-quo.”

Argumentum ad populum.

“@16 your points covered in my latest response too.”

Only one of them. You didn’t explain how you’re defining “elite”.

I have been forced to support the establishments I have mentioned through taxation and God knows they cost more than they’re worth. Those who are badly off must go there.
Many would rather die than go there.
If they’d rather die, then they had better do it and decrease the surplus population.

A popular view, it seems.

18

I would guess that the majority of the public are unaware of the extent of the benefits paid to working people, when we look at the benefits bill, it is massive. And then when we add the word ‘scrounger’, it runs off the tongue so easily.

HB and tax-credits account for a massive chunk and so too state pensions.

Let’s redirect tax credits to financing the extensive building of social housing, which will create jobs and ultimately reduce HB.

Reforming the Abortion Act is nothing more than the appeal to catholic conservatives and would be a disaster, considering that more than 90% of abortions are carried-out within the first 12 weeks.

24. Robin Levett

@LondonJ #13:

Definition: “Wingnut”is used in politics as a political slur referring to a person who holds extreme, and often irrational, political views

Handy definition; such a pity the rest of your post ignores it – the “irrational” bit, that is.

“People on benefits should not continue to get child benefits after the first two children.” : 78% net agree, 17% net disagree.

But people not on benefits should continue to get child benefit after the first two children? Depending on how you define “benefit”, that is internally contradictory.

Even without that, it is irrational. What will be gained by the withdrawal, to counter the increase in child poverty caused thereby?

“Total benefits should be capped so recipients cannot claim more than the average family” : 88% net agree, 8% net disagree.

Many average families claim benefits. So somebody on £26k wages can claim benefits on top of that, because they need the money, whereas somebody on £26k benefits cannot claim any more benefit, even though they also need it? how rational is that?

I could go on – but the public attitude, fed by tendentious (to be polite) figures produced by government and seized on by the tabloid press, is that “they” are the ones who claim benefits, whereas “we” are the ones who are working. That attitude is both factually incorrect – most HB claimants for example, work – and irrational; when “we” get sacked without redress (because employment rights have been removed) “we” claim benefits.

25. Chaise Guevara

“the public attitude, fed by tendentious (to be polite) figures produced by government and seized on by the tabloid press, is that “they” are the ones who claim benefits, whereas “we” are the ones who are working.”

Nail. Head.

Robin/23: The actual questions fit the theme, too: http://www.populus.co.uk/uploads/OmWelfare_Reform.pdf

The preamble is pretty biasing towards a “this costs too much and something must be done” attitude in itself.

I suspect with a different preamble and question wording it would be quite easy to get a majority disagreeing with the statements.

27. Chaise Guevara

@ 26 cim

Agreed: the poll set-up is biased enough to make the results pretty much worthless. Not just in the preamble, either. This appears later one, as a “do you agree that…?” question:

“We should not be paying working age benefits to people who don’t even live in this country”

What role does “even” play in that sentence, other than to suggest that answering “no” is outrageous?

14. LondonJ

After 10-20 years of remorsless caricturing welfare claimants as scroungers by the gutter press (in particular the Daily Mail) and successive Labour and Tory governments, I am not surprised by these poll results. It does not mean that they are rational.

@18. LondonJ

“We have endlessly been promised on this site that the level of abuse of disability benefits was no more than 2%. Yet according to an article on this very website between 15% and 30% of those who go through the ATOS assessment find employment.”

As I said on another thread, these figures are meaningless because the details of the “churn rate”—the number who go back into employment is never released. Disability is not a static issue: some are disabled for life; some have a disability for a short (up to years) time, from which they eventually recover; and some have good periods where they can work, and bad ones where they cannot.

The figues quoted come from a peort where at one survey 15% had found work after a period, and at the next 29%. This means 15% in the first and 14% in the second. Being mischevous, and speculating ahead of the data, this could mean the ATOS success rate is 1% (assuming that the ATOS-related success does not pass into the second period and that the 14% rate in that period is the natural churn rate)

@29 @28 @24 @23 @21 @20

Why are you wasting your time arguing this point? You have lost.

Labour had 13 years – with a massive communications budget – to justify its bloated welfare spending.

But you have lost the debate.

Every single survey – whether Populus or British Attitudes Survey – return the same results: 70 – 80% believe the welfare state is being drained by scroungers.

Can you name a single cause where there are such strident views? Not even animal testing draws such a polarised response.

The reason the left-wing elite struggle to understand this abuse is that the closest they have come to a council estate is to read about them through the pages of the Guardian.

Do not waste your time responding. You have lost the debate.

Every major party is now committed to aggressive welfare reform.

For the majority the population this welfare reform cannot come soon enough.

31. Robin Levett

@LondonJ #30:

Labour had 13 years – with a massive communications budget – to justify its bloated welfare spending.

Assumes facts not in evidence. In fact, the last Labour (huh!) government was no better than this one in demonising claimants; which means that since 1979 at least the terms of public debate have been dictated by the assumptions I identified in my earlier post.

Again – even if there is a majority in this country in favour of a policy of aggressively stripping benefits from welfare claimants, that doesn’t make the policy rational.

32. margin4error

It is strange to see the right in the UK trying to re-frame the political divide the way the American right has done.

In America it was a relatively easy move to cast the left as the elite and the right as the rest – partly because the right has some fairly strong anti-education sentiment born of religious tensions with actual facts and knowledge.

In the UK it proves more difficult because the left has much stronger connection to “the rest” than a right that largely avoids contact with them from the day their parents pay large fees to send them to expensive schools. Be it the class divide or the North South divide, the right’s heartland is very much the establishment and the natural base of power in the UK (certain types of schools, jobs and of course the South East).

So if an anti-elite mentallity does start to take root in the UK – I’m not entirely sure that the right would benefit here as they have in the USA. After all, what could be more elite than the Tory front bench? It’s pretty hard to counter that wider perception.

33. Chaise Guevara

“Do not waste your time responding. You have lost the debate.”

This translates as “Please let me have the last word! Pleeeaaaase! People might think that I’m clever!”

I notice that you purport to respond to me without mentioning anything I actually said. As such, you’re still refusing to define your terms, or to defend your assertion that abuse of disability benefits is at a high rate. Your long-winded tangential argumentum ad populum is a poor mask for your intellectual cowardice.

Perhaps if you were capable of responding, you wouldn’t have lost the debate. Such a shame.

34. margin4error

Did anyone notice the statistical illiteracy in the middle of the Cameron Speech today btw?

“Fact two. More of our children live in households where nobody works than almost any other nation in Europe. Let me put it simply. Welfare isn’t working. And this is a tragedy.”

erm – this only holds true as a correlation and thus possible causation if our welfare is higher than almost any other nation in Europe. Which, typically reported, it is not.

So this is effectively a lie masked by lack of information presented.

I do love those moments. I reminds me that politics is a base profession and that actually bloggers are a rare breed for often wanting actual facts and evidence to back an opinion.

30. LondonJ

Yes, I agree that we (believers in a just welfare system) have lost the argument on Welfare, but, as I said (28) this is because every governemnt since 1979, aided and abetted by the gutter press, has been demonising welfare claiments. In these circumstances it is hardly surprising that the polls reflect this.

This does not mean that we should (or will) give up countering the lies, and lies they are. To take one example: we are routinely told about failies with three generations who have not worked. the Rowntree Trust looked in two unemployment hot-spots (including glasgoe)—they didn’t find any. In reality the pattern is one of a drift between uneployment and low-paid work.

I note that you still (and none of teh ctritics ahve ever) addressed my (and others) point that the figues on those in work after ATOS etc are meaningless because the natural churn rate (those who go intop employment without help) is never given, and, indeed concealed. A personal example: a few years ago, I was unemployed, long-term, and, as usual was sent on the round of useless courses principally designed to extract money from the government in a form of corporate releif. On the last one, I had been on an interview just before, got the job just after and signed off. One person was so disgusted by the rank incompetence of teh course that he signed off and went back to living off his savings, and another was excluded from the course (and hence got a benefit suspension) for late attendance. ALL THREE OF THESE WOULD BE COUNTED AS A SUCESS (as it was then defiend as getting people off benefit) despite the fact that the course did nothing for anyone there. As there were about 15 on the course, this would give a 20% success rate without accomplishing anything,

34. margin4error

“Fact two. More of our children live in households where nobody works than almost any other nation

Thank’s for pointing this out. Let’s also mention that because of the way the benefit system is constructed, if you have a couple/family one of whom is in a lowish paid job and the other is unemployed, they will almost always be better off if the former quits the job.

37. margin4error

Mark Austin

That’s quite an assertion. Fancy offering up some numbers to back that up? I understand the theoretical scenario in which because benefits are lost as income rises, one could find one’s self worse off if you income rises but your benefits fall faster.

I’ve just never actually seen any one who asserts that this is a big problem offer up any numerical proof that it happens, and if it does, how many people are in such a situation.

Obviously you have, since “almost always” means you have obviously seen data on this showing it is true in at least 50% of cases (and presumably a lot more, since “almost always” suggest a bit more than just “mostly” which would be a simple majority).

Or are you one of those people who just makes stuff up without any fact, information or evidence? (I know we have a few of them on LC – but I don’t like to assume the worst)

30

And I was suggesting using the £31 billion in tax credits to create jobs, you most certainly haven’t been reading posts.

39. margin4error

LondonJ
You know that 70-80 percent of people believe in some sort of deity right?

Just wanted to mention that – y’know, to point out that rational thought is not always at work when large numbers of people profer an opinion.

40. Robin Levett

@Chaise #27:

“We should not be paying working age benefits to people who don’t even live in this country”

What role does “even” play in that sentence, other than to suggest that answering “no” is outrageous?

To be fair, the sentence should include “even”; as in:

“We should not be paying working age benefits to people who don’t live in this country even if they are benefits which they have been paying for all their working lives”

since working age benefits claimable while resident in EEA countries are either contributory directly or at least depend upon your having paid NICs here; or are disability benefits.

37. margin4error

First, please note the caveat in my post: “a partner with a lowish income”. Benefit is calculated on the basis of the family income. If the principal earner loses their job, the deeductions on the basis of the partners income can mean that the couple will be better of if neither works once travel costs are taken into account.

42. margin4error

Mark

again – I understand the theoretical concept – I was just wondering whether, having pointed to it as something that does happen, you could illustrate with real data that it does happen.

The reason I asked was because I’m one of those odd people in the world of politics who actually quite likes facts and information rather than hyperbole and conjecture. I tend to prefer to look at facts and information and then form an opinion – than do what most people do and form an opinion before seeking “evidence” to support it.

So let me reasure you that I do get the hyperbole – and if it were real, it would be a bad thing and I’d agree it needs fixing. But I want to know if it is real or not.

Thus far no one has ever offered me an example. Which is odd, because it really is just a matter of doing a calculation with publicly available data like benefits levels and qualification criteria for them.

43. Chaise Guevara

@ 40 Robin

Agreed. Funny how that detail get left out…

@42 margin4error

Finally!

Look at this.

http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/images/publications/escaping%20the%20poverty%20trap%20-%20mar%2010.pdf

I havn’t read the full report, but have a look at Table A and the duiscussion preceeding it. The results do make an allowance for necessary work costs, but note that even for those who do benefit, the actual benefit can be quite small.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jason Brickley

    Tory conference wingnut tracker http://t.co/h0GbF4F2

  2. TeresaMary

    Summary of 'nuttier' bits of #cpc12 RT @libcon: Tory conference wingnut tracker http://t.co/L11Z4w3T <laughter doesn't make them digestible

  3. BiggertiggeR

    Tory conference wingnut tracker | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/gs6wj4SB via @libcon

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    Liberal Conspiracy – Tory conference wingnut tracker http://t.co/ayX3qBw8

  5. Rob

    Liberal Conspiracy – Tory conference wingnut tracker http://t.co/ayX3qBw8

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    Liberal Conspiracy – Tory conference wingnut tracker http://t.co/ayX3qBw8

  7. Anne Joynes

    This will be a long list by the end of the week./Tory conference wingnut tracker | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/7AK8FTKK via @libcon

  8. Karen

    Tory conference wingnut tracker http://t.co/BGzLYo0U <<< Don't know whether this is a *facepalm* or a 'no words' or whatever – but it's bad.

  9. Ken Rice

    Tory conference wingnut tracker | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/91w6FTQM via @libcon

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    Tory conference wingnut tracker | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/dEGI2LSq via @libcon





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