Tory MP has "huge admiration" for Augusto Pinochet

Andrew Rosindell declares his support for the brutal dictator.

Trigger warning for sexual violence and rape. This post contains graphic descriptions of acts of torture.

Political Scrapbook has been running a series of posts on Tory MP Andrew Rosindell, mostly focusing on the £36,000 of free travel he has claimed in the last year alone, as varies countries paid for his trips to the Cayman Islands, Taiwan, Lebanon, Qatar, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and more. But today, they've revealed his astonishing comments about the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet.

Defending one of his councillors joining the "Augusto Pinochet Fan Club" on Facebook, Rosindell told the Romford Recorder that:

Pinochet ousted a communist regime in Chile that was butchering its people. Compared with the rest of Latin America during the ‘70s and ‘80s, Chile turned into a free society where people were able to prosper.

If [the councillor] happened to join a group, then so what? I would happily be a member of that group. I have huge admiration for General Pinochet.

These are some of the actions of the man Rosindell has huge admiration for:

In January 1974, Chilean Air Force troops deposited the body of a seventeen-year-old boy, an MIR party member, in a town south of Santiago. Part of the boy's abdomen had been subjected to vivisection. Both his legs were broken, and also his left arm. His entire body was covered with holes made by cigarette burns. He had also been castrated. . . There were a lot of women as badly beaten up as the men were. They bad also been brutally raped; they had internal ruptures and were bleeding profusely. One kept moaning. The torturers had inserted a sharp object in her vagina, and it had cut through the peritoneum. Some of the people there said they had recognized the interrogators: they were Navy infantrymen trained at the American bases in Panama. [Robinson Rojas Sandford, The Murder of Allende and the End of the Chilean Way of Socialism]

The methods of torture described in the preliminary reports from COPAHI, the "Cooperative Committee for Peace in Chile" are the following:

  • Application of electrical current in various parts of the body, usually the gums, genitals and anus.
  • Blows.
  • Blindfolding or hoods.
  • Burning with acids or cigarettes.
  • Immersion in gasoline or water.
  • Whipping in general.
  • Incarceration in unhealthy conditions or with vermin.
  • Being forced to participate in or witness sexual activities [62].
  • Being rolled over rocks.
  • Being forced to witness torture.
  • Ingestion of excrement.
  • Rack.
  • Hanging by the neck.
  • Deprivation of water for a week.
  • Deliberate fracture of a wounded arm.
  • Being thrown from a height blindfolded.
  • Knives inserted under fingernails or toenails.
  • Cutting on the hands.
  • Being exposed naked to the sun.
  • Not identified (caused death). [María Eugenia Rojas, La represión politica en Chile: los hechos]

In some camps, routine sadism was taken to extremes. At Villa Grimaldi, recalcitrant prisoners were dragged to a parking lot; DINA agents then used a car or truck to run over and crush their legs. Prisoners there recalled one young man who was beaten with chains and left to die slowly from internal injuries. Rape was also a reoccurring form of abuse. DINA officers subjected female prisoners to grotesque forms of sexual torture that included insertion of rodents and, as tactfully described in the Commission report, "unnatural acts involving dogs." [Peter Kornbluh, The Pinochet File: A Declassified Dossier on Atrocity and Accountability]

"I have huge admiration for General Pinochet".

Chilean crossing a street in Santiago, behind a military tank which is on its way to the Presidential Palace, Santiago, 30 June 1973. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty Images
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Autumn Statement 2015: George Osborne abandons his target

How will George Osborne close the deficit after his U-Turns? Answer: he won't, of course. 

“Good governments U-Turn, and U-Turn frequently.” That’s Andrew Adonis’ maxim, and George Osborne borrowed heavily from him today, delivering two big U-Turns, on tax credits and on police funding. There will be no cuts to tax credits or to the police.

The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that, in total, the government gave away £6.2 billion next year, more than half of which is the reverse to tax credits.

Osborne claims that he will still deliver his planned £12bn reduction in welfare. But, as I’ve written before, without cutting tax credits, it’s difficult to see how you can get £12bn out of the welfare bill. Here’s the OBR’s chart of welfare spending:

The government has already promised to protect child benefit and pension spending – in fact, it actually increased pensioner spending today. So all that’s left is tax credits. If the government is not going to cut them, where’s the £12bn come from?

A bit of clever accounting today got Osborne out of his hole. The Universal Credit, once it comes in in full, will replace tax credits anyway, allowing him to describe his U-Turn as a delay, not a full retreat. But the reality – as the Treasury has admitted privately for some time – is that the Universal Credit will never be wholly implemented. The pilot schemes – one of which, in Hammersmith, I have visited myself – are little more than Potemkin set-ups. Iain Duncan Smith’s Universal Credit will never be rolled out in full. The savings from switching from tax credits to Universal Credit will never materialise.

The £12bn is smaller, too, than it was this time last week. Instead of cutting £12bn from the welfare budget by 2017-8, the government will instead cut £12bn by the end of the parliament – a much smaller task.

That’s not to say that the cuts to departmental spending and welfare will be painless – far from it. Employment Support Allowance – what used to be called incapacity benefit and severe disablement benefit – will be cut down to the level of Jobseekers’ Allowance, while the government will erect further hurdles to claimants. Cuts to departmental spending will mean a further reduction in the numbers of public sector workers.  But it will be some way short of the reductions in welfare spending required to hit Osborne’s deficit reduction timetable.

So, where’s the money coming from? The answer is nowhere. What we'll instead get is five more years of the same: increasing household debt, austerity largely concentrated on the poorest, and yet more borrowing. As the last five years proved, the Conservatives don’t need to close the deficit to be re-elected. In fact, it may be that having the need to “finish the job” as a stick to beat Labour with actually helped the Tories in May. They have neither an economic imperative nor a political one to close the deficit. 

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.