Thursday, November 08, 2012 

The barbecued testicles of a wombat await.

In the pot calling the kettle black stakes, the spectacle of Louise Mensch saying Nadine Dorries has demeaned the role of an MP has to be up there with the Daily Mail declaring the BBC had "woken up to decency", or that other hardy perennial, the Daily Star reporting on the "sick" Brass Eye paedophile special while on the opposite page leering at the 15-year-old Charlotte Church.

Mensch's political career was without doubt a stunt from the very beginning, her place on the Tory a-list of candidates alongside such luminaries as Adam Rickitt designed to attract publicity.  Her resignation after just two years was less about her husband having moved to the US and more, according to err, said husband, to do with how Mensch felt certain she would lose her marginal seat come 2015.  Regardless of who's telling the truth, forcing your party into a unwinnable by-election midway through a parliamentary session doesn't win you many friends: she was duly booed at the Tory conference.

Whether Dorries would get re-elected as MP for mid-Bedfordshire if there was a snap election must similarly be in doubt.  For those of us who have long followed her political trajectory, her decision to flounce off to Australia to take part in I'm a Celebrity hasn't exactly come as a surprise.  It's rather of a piece with her modus operandi of repeatedly doing incredibly stupid things, and then failing to learn the lessons from the disasters that have followed.  Having failed to get the abortion limit reduced from 24 to 20 weeks back in 2008, she blamed Labour and Harriet Harman in particular for having run a shadow whipping operation, something she provided no evidence for whatsoever.

Last year, having changed tact by targeting abortion providers directly over the counselling they also provided, she was humiliated when Frank Field withdrew his support for the amendment while she was still speaking in favour of it.  Undaunted, she blamed Evan Harris for leaning on Nick Clegg to lean on David Cameron, despite it being apparent Downing Street wanted nothing to do with her amendment, as shown by the new health minister Anna Soubry dumping the consultation as soon as she was able to.  Nor is her paranoia limited only to political foes at Westminster, as Tim Ireland discovered: Dorries accused her Liberal Democrat challenger at the last election, Linda Jack, of stalking her, going so far as to report her concerns to the police.  Strangely though, she has seemingly never reported any of the threats made against her to the police, despite having repeatedly made clear how she's persecuted for her views.

Despite all these apparent setbacks, her newly acquired position as scourge of Cameron and Osborne (calling a spade a spade always delights the tabloids) seems to have led to her believing her own hype.  Other than the apparent £40,000 she'll receive for taking part, what else could possibly make her believe going on I'm a Celebrity is a good idea or a wise career move?  With the best will in the world she isn't George Galloway, who was able to recover from his appearance on Celebrity Big Brother through setting himself against the entire political establishment.  Can she really believe she'll be able to gain support for her continuing campaign to lower the abortion limit by living with a bunch of other C-listers in a forest in Australia for a couple of weeks, inevitably made to take part in the bushtucker trials foisted upon the least popular member of the ensemble?  If she does, she's even more disconnected from reality than I thought possible.

All this said, Damian Thompson does have something of a point when he writes the swift suspension of the whip from Dorries is at odds with Cameron's indulgence of Andrew Mitchell.  Also laughable is the amount of nonsense being spouted about Dorries leaving her constituents in the lurch, as though they can't go a month without their representative being in parliament.  Plenty of MPs barely bother to turn up, and there are a number with long-term illnesses who likewise find it difficult to attend regularly.  As long her staff are still working, then the amount of difference the people of mid-Beds are likely to notice is close to nil.

The real issue is, as it has always been, that Dorries has repeatedly lied and misled her own constituents, whether on expenses for her website, or as she herself admitted, how her blog was 70% fiction and 30% fact.  If this latest scheme is part of some bizarre plan to look human and in touch, then it's one based on a fundamental misreading of what the public wants in a politician, which certainly isn't someone so desperate for attention or money that they'll chew on a dingo's bowel while Ant and Dec gurn in the background.  At least she's gotten used to indignity; it's saying something when you can still go lower after being pictured topless on the front page of the Daily Star.

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Thursday, November 17, 2011 

A further dalliance in the wonderful world of Nadine Dorries.

For those like me who have become a little tired of the way Nadine Dorries has been turned into a bogeywoman by the internet left in this septic isle of ours (and my own very small role in that is not beyond criticism) then it's worth giving Tim Ireland's on-going dissection of the letter sent by the MP for mid-Bedfordshire to the then chief constable of her patch a read. Not only does she accuse Tim of being a stalker on the basis of his turning up to a hustings he was formally invited to, one which she brought to a close once she realised he would be filming it, she similarly fingers two other internet critics as also showing signs of obsession.

As astonishing is this is, Dorries then went one step further up the paranoia-o-meter. She writes that even though she's more circumspect, Linda Jack, her Liberal Democrat opponent at the last election, was also in on this crowded market of stalking her. Smearing your opponents in public is one thing; making totally vexatious complaints about their behaviour to the police is quite another. Also strange is that despite repeatedly claiming that she's had death threats made against her, mainly connected to her campaigning against abortion, it doesn't appear as though she's ever reported these to the police. She also, equally strangely, didn't report a highly disturbing apparent burglary in which her front door was removed from its hinges and her filing cabinets gone through, with nothing else being taken. Yet, as Tim writes, she not only reported him and two others to the chief constable of her local force for daring to hold her to task, she also did the same for her main political opponent. Something, as so often in the past with Nadine, simply doesn't add up.

Bedfordshire police, unsurprisingly, only saw fit to give Tim a "verbal warning" at his voluntary interview with them, one which essentially consisted only of advice to not give Dorries something to complain about and therefore in turn waste their time. As for her other allegations, it seems that no action whatsoever was taken, for the reason that there was nothing to investigate.

Regardless of your political allegiance, generally only those at the outside fringes tend to think that whole groups of politicians are completely incapable of taking part in the process through which our laws are written. There are one or two individual exceptions, John Hemming being one, due to his continuing failure to grasp the rules around family courts, having deliberately broken one injunction having believed the pack of lies he had been told about the case. The other is Dorries: it is no exaggeration to say I find it genuinely terrifying that someone so dishonest in their dealings with their critics, someone so petty that they make complaints about their main opponent at a general election to the police, and someone so opaque in their relationships with outside lobbyists is able to have a role in writing the very legislation the rest of us must abide by. With her constituency due to be abolished as part of the 2013 boundary review, we can but hope that Conservative central office fails to find her a replacement.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2011 

A return to the wonderful world of Nadine Dorries.

It's been a while since we last delved into the zany antics of Nadine Dorries, the inestimable Conservative member for mid-Bedfordshire, or as some wags have taken to referring to the constituency thanks to its association with Dorries, mid-Narnia. Things have continued in much the same fashion as they were previously - when criticised or even vaguely challenged over her political convictions, Dorries doesn't so much respond in kind as instead make incredibly serious accusations which either can't be substantiated or subsequently turn out to have been completely fictitious.

This perhaps isn't surprising from someone who told the parliamentary standards commissioner that her blog was "70% fiction and 30% fact", and who in response to her new relationship becoming public recruited her boyfriend's daughter to attack her own mother in uncompromising terms. It is however coming to something when a further perfectly legitimate inquiry into Dorries' use of parliamentary expenses has resulted in yet more allegations being flung in the direction of those asking the questions. Lynn Elson, described by the Bedfordshire on Sunday as Dorries' "researcher and media inquiry representative" quit at the weekend after Tim Ireland raised questions over the amount Elson's company, Marketing Management Midlands Ltd was being paid out of the public purse. Apparently having taken lessons from Dorries' way of dealing with such irritants, she referred to Tim's investigation as "spiteful and fabricated tittle-tattle" and despite admitting that he had "never met me, spoken to me, had any contact with me" she had lodged "complaints relating to a man to both Bedfordshire and Gloucestershire police forces".

Unity, having provided Tim with some of the data for one of his posts explains in his typically forensic style exactly why Elson's employment and the amount she's been paid is unusual:

Elson’s parting smear in Bedfordshire on Sunday describes her as Dorries’ researcher and media inquiries representative, which is anything but an unusual role for an employee of an MP to fill, even if most of Elson’s national media work has consisted of fielding inquires about Dorries’ expenses and personal life. Most, if not all, MPs employ a parliamentary researcher, or ‘bag-carrier’ as they’re often referred to and MPs do have to field media inquiries, a task which routinely falls to their office staff. However most MPs, other than Dorries it seems, put their researchers directly on the Parliamentary payroll rather than employ them through a third-party arrangement with an outside company. Dorries is, so far as I can tell, the only MP to employ a researcher in this fashion, although other MPs do make use of agencies when hiring clerical/secretarial staff on a short-term basis.

In that sense, it would be unfair to make too much of Elson’s role on purely cost terms as what we’re actually seeing here are payments that other MPs make as a matter of routine but which don’t appear in the published expenses data as this excludes payments to staff employed directly through the House of Commons on a contract of employment.

However, it’s not just the manner of Elson’s employment that is atypical here. Her personal background as the middle-aged proprietor of a small and distinctly provincial public relations business – her main gig, other than working Dorries, appears to be organising a couple of local community awards events in Gloucestershire and South Warwickshire – is rather at odds with the usual collection of university graduates, student activists, local councillors and other minor politicos than tend to score jobs working for MPs as part of their personal plan to climb as far up the greasy political pole as they can possibly manage.

Then there’s the salary itself. IPSA’s current pay scales put the salary range for a research assistant at £23K-£33K a year, full time, although judging by the adverts on the W4MP recruitment website, around £25K-28K seems to be the usual going rate. Throughout her time working for Dorries, Elson was receiving payments of between £3450 and £3525 per month, the equivalent of £41K-£42K a year salary before tax and national insurance (and with no employer’s NI payable by Dorries) putting Elson right at the top end of the scale for a Senior Parliamentary Assistant had she worked for Dorries full-time, rather than splitting her time between Dorries and her other PR work back in Gloucestershire.


He also suggests what the real reason might be for Elson's sudden departure:

Looking at the payment arrangements, IR35 comes immediately to mind but then there also the little matter of the Daily Mirror report, in January, which claimed that Dorries’ expenses file has been passed to the Police for investigation, a story which appears to have confirmed by unnamed sources at the Telegraph.

What is not at all clear, as yet, is why this file was given to the police and which of Dorries’ expenses claims, if any, might be under investigation. Is it the issue of main/second home that the police are interested in, or they investigating other matters that have yet to be fully disclosed.


Whether anything comes of the file being passed to the police remains to be seen. What really is a cause for concern is that clearly vexatious complaints are being made to the police by proxy of a member for parliament who has consistently lied about and attacked those who have attempted to hold her to account. For just how much longer is the Conservative party going to stand idly by as one of their "honourable" members conducts herself in such a fashion?

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010 

Eliza Manningham-Bullshitter.

Becoming a member of the security services is a little like converting to Islam - once you're in, you're in for life, unless you decide to turn whistleblower, ala, Peter Wright or David Shayler, although in the case of the latter it seems to have done little to help his state of mind. Most though stay a spook for the rest of their life, and even after retirement continue to deny reports about the antics of agents which are known to be true, and in the case of Eliza Manningham-Buller, continue to be at the very least economical with the truth.

According to the previous head of MI5, "the Americans were very keen that people like us did not discover what they were doing". Really? How then does that square with the "seven paragraphs" which very clearly show that the Americans were at the least indulging in "cruel and unusual punishment" when interviewing Binyam Mohamed, and which they were more than prepared to share with their friends in 5/6 back in 2002? How is Buller's claim not contradicted directly by the evidence of Craig Murray, who sent back evidence in 2002 and 03 that showed the CIA was using evidence obtained from the torture of dissidents and others in Uzbekistan, and which the government and security services already knew about in any case? Previously MI5/6 have claimed that they didn't properly realise that the US policy of mistreatment had extended as far as it had until the Abu Ghraib scandal broke, although they knew about the "ghost sites", which even then was stretching the realms of feasibility. Now Manningham-Buller claims that she didn't know why Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had been so talkative until after her retirement when she discovered that he had been "waterboarded" 160 times.

If you were to believe Manningham-Buller, you'd also have to accept that the same people who are meant to be keeping us safe are also some of the most gullible and least inquisitive individuals around. There's plenty of things that you can call the security services, but those that rise to the top are not idiots, nor are they easily led or deceived. Did she really ask her underlings why KSM was talking and not even have an inkling that it might have something to do with the fact that the US was subjecting him to simulated drowning on a frighteningly regular basis? That's of course if this whole recollected conversation actually took place at all, which is itself unlikely. Why else after all were certain "high-value" detainees disappearing if they weren't being taken to "black sites", which MI5 and 6 have said they knew about? Then there's the little matter of Guantanamo Bay, established in December 2001, and where from the very beginning there were allegations of mistreatment. The only reasonable conclusion that can be reached is that Eliza Manningham-Buller is lying, and lying in a feeble attempt to protect both herself and MI5. Then again, why should we be surprised? When lying is what you do for a living, why stop when you retire?

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008 

The final words on Dorries (for now).

Unity provides all the necessary information on why Cameron shouldn't be allowed to get away with calling Gordon Brown a ditherer after his machinations over the abortion bill, but most sweet after last night's votes is Nadine Dorries' response: to carry on as if nothing happened.

Following yesterday's attempt in the House of Commons to reduce the upper the limit for abortions from 24 to 20 weeks, Nadine is to join forces with Labour MP Frank Field in a cross party to campaign to reduce the number of abortions, tackle teenage pregnancy and improve sexual health. During yesterday's debate on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, MPs voted on an amendment tabled by Nadine to reduce the upper limit for abortions from 24 to weeks to 20 weeks.

Nadine said, "While I am clearly disappointed that we were unsuccessful in the vote on reducing the upper limit for abortions, I believe we have achieved a great deal in making more people aware as to what the methodology of an abortion actually involves. Following the campaign I believe we have also brought into the public domain important information such as the viability of a foetus below 24 weeks, the issue of foetal pain and the long term consequences in terms of mental health for many women who choose to have an abortion. The vote may have been lost, but I feel we certainly won the arguments.

I have a great deal of sympathy when people say politicians - and MPs in particular - are out of touch with the views of the public. Opinion polls consistently show that the public wants to see a reduction in the upper limits for abortions, which is already one of the highest in Europe, yet yesterday the majority of MPs defied the views of the majority of their constituents and voted for the status quo.

However, I will continue to campaign for a reduction of abortions in the UK and the broader issues of tackling teenage pregnancy and improving sexual health, particularly amongst young people. I am delighted that following yesterday's vote I received a telephone call from the widely respected Labour MP, Frank Field MP, who told me that after listening to my speech in the House of Commons yesterday evening, he changed his mind and decided to vote for my amendment. We have decided to establish a new, cross party group to continue the campaign to tackle issues surrounding the rise of teenage abortions and pregnancy."

You have to admire Dorries' chutzpah: she couldn't even get the 200 supporters she repeatedly claimed she had to vote for the 20 weeks amendment, yet she and those who, um, decided that it wasn't worth the effort after all were the ones who won the argument. And indeed, they're right. When it comes to repeating mendacious bullshit, ignoring all the evidence from the studies in this country which show that the viability of the foetus under 24 weeks has not changed over the last decade or more, claiming that foetuses feel pain on the evidence of one doctor while others vehemently disagree and bringing up the issue of mental health when pregnancy has such a major effect on a woman's psychology without even considering the moral implications of seeking an abortion, Dorries and her band of followers are second to none. They can be truly proud of lowering the already base tone of politics in this country to its almost lowest ebb. Perhaps it doesn't need to be mentioned that Tony Blair too believed he had won the argument over 90 days detention; he never recovered from that defeat.

It also does little to add to Dorries' claims of overwhelming public support for a reduction when Marie Stopes yesterday unveiled their latest survey which showed that 61% of women of child bearing age supported the right to seek an abortion between 20 and 24 weeks. Previous polls reached different results, but this one asked specifically in which circumstances in which it would be acceptable, reflecting the real issues why someone might still need an abortion at such a period into pregnancy, rather than just abitrarily asking which limit they supported.

Most hilarious of all though is that Dorries will be continuing to attempt to find a "middle way". The "middle way" was Cameron's chatroom sofa supported 22 weeks; it failed by 71 votes. Maybe, just maybe, if Dorries hadn't been allowed to run the campaign, that vote might have been successful. As for Frank Field's new found relationship with Dorries, you couldn't be happier for such a wonderfully matched couple. If he really was impressed by Dorries' speech, so aptly described by Dawn Primarolo as "assert[ing] many things to be facts that are not," and completely overbearing in the emotional, factless sense, with her continuing to draw on her suspicious witnessing and involvement in late-term abortions, then he really has gone crackers. Either that or the old goat fancies her.

Round one goes against Dorries then. The next round might just concern her seat itself.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008 

It was Dorries wot lost it!

It came down to the crunch, and after everything, not even the 200 supporters Nadine Dorries said she had bothered to turn up to vote for a reduction in the abortion limit to 20 weeks. All the hype about the vote being close turned out to be bluster, with the amendment being rejected by a majority of 142, 190 votes for to 332 against. All the attempts by Dorries to turn to complete emotion, raising the issue of the baby boy she witnessed struggling to breathe once again during the debate, after saying that she hadn't wanted to use it, have failed. This was after she told blatant lies about Labour MPs supposedly being on a three-line-whip to "attend" so that they knew which way they were to be expected to vote. Desperation doesn't even begin to cover it.

Who knows just how much of an impact the blogging campaign against Dorries has had, if any, but yesterday also saw another of the allegations against her, her connections with Christian fundamentalists, completely verified by Channel 4's Dispatches, showing Dorries almost arm in arm with Andrea Minichiello Williams of the Lawyers' Christian Fellowship. Dorries has been moved by the programme to hysterically post on her "blog" that she isn't a fundie, but then no one ever claimed she was. The allegation was instead that her entire campaign was being organised and funded by them, which the Dispatches programme more than demonstrated. For all Dorries' claims of being pro-choice, as she again claimed in parliament today, that she has been working with organisations completely opposed to a woman's right to choose either makes her a stooge, a useful idiot, or a liar. Among Williams' more interesting views is that the Earth is only around 4,000 years old, not even the usual 6,000 as others in the fundamentalist fold usually hold.

Especially gratifying during the debate was that "Red" Dawn Primarolo still has enough fire about her from the old days to call Dorries exactly the latter, albeit in parliamentary language: "She has asserted many things as fact which are not this evening." Equal amounts of opprobrium ought to fall on the Thatcherite throwback Edward Leigh, who declared that “One of the most dangerous places in Britain is in a woman’s womb." Perhaps he has something he'd like to tell us?

The most damage to Dorries though was probably from her own party's leader, with Cameron coming out in favour of 22 weeks rather than Dorries' 20 (Update: Cameron voted for both 20 weeks and 22 weeks, the reasons for which I might well go into tomorrow). Dorries, undermined from above, resorted yet again to distortion:

'Twenty-two weeks is meaningless. 'Large numbers of babies will still be aborted in a barbaric manner, they will still feel pain, and although it will be a victory in as much as the tide will have turned, it will mean that the 20-week campaign will carry on until we meet 20 weeks.

With 22 weeks defeated by 71 votes, the 20 weeks campaign is most likely going to have to wait another good few years before it starts its war of misleading yet again. In the meantime, some of us might well be moved to do everything possible to ensure that Ms Dorries loses her (safe) seat at the next election.

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Saturday, May 17, 2008 

Woe, woe is me!

It has come to this. Faced with all her arguments disintegrating in front of her eyes, Nadine Dorries is now taking her stories of being so horribly bullied and abused to the pages of the Telegraph:

I guess I knew when watching an aborted baby lying in a bedpan struggling to breathe, that my inability to help and my complicity as a young nurse assisting in this process, would one day force me to try to alter the barbaric practice our society has become so immune to: late abortion.

Unity has already raised the point that Dorries might well be lying or exaggerating about this, and asked if any current students (Dorries said this occurred when she was a student nurse at 19) had participated in live-birth abortions. Two answered in the comments and both said it was highly unlikely, although things may have been different back in the 70s. Thing is, because Dorries has told so many lies and distorted so much in the past, it's completely impossible to trust almost anything she now says. It would be lovely if we could have a debate on the current abortion limit without having to check and double check everything that Dorries and her supporters say, but it sadly doesn't seem to be possible.

Adversely, as a result of botched abortions such as the one I assisted with, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) issued guidelines to ensure that an abortion never again becomes a live birth.

To avoid this happening, a lethal injection is placed into the baby's heart through the mother's abdominal wall via a cannula - the baby is then surgically dismembered and removed limb by limb. That'll teach 'em.


Yes, we realise that it's extremely unpleasant. Just because something is such is not a reason for lowering the limit when Dorries is relying on the work of just one doctor for her claims that babies older than 18 weeks can feel pain in the way that adults do; most other doctors working in the field are of the opinion that the cerebral cortex, which is not fully developed or properly "wired up" until 26 weeks, is central to the pain experience. In any case, as Stuart Derbyshire wrote:

Whether the fetus feels pain is an important academic and clinical question but it has no relevance to the debate about abortion. If fetal pain is possible then it might be decided that the fetus be anaesthetised prior to the abortion or that the procedure be performed more quickly. There are many good reasons to support abortion that will remain valid even if the fetus can feel pain. Equally, there are many good reasons to defend the welfare of the fetus that will remain valid even if the fetus cannot feel pain. The attempts to make a moral argument through science are deeply concerning. Arguments over life, rights and the sovereignty of a woman’s body cannot be replaced by science dictating the conditions of an acceptable abortion. Such a situation would represent a tyranny of scientific expertise that should be as equally unwelcome to the opponents of abortion as to those who support it.

Back to Dorries:

The pro-abortionists insist there have been no improvements in survival rates for babies below 24 weeks. They omit to mention that the measurement used - that of the survival of poorly babies who happen to make it into a specialist neonatal unit in time - cannot be used to compare potential outcomes of aborted healthy babies.

You don't say? Possibly we're omitting to mention it because it's completely irrelevant?

They also ignore those darned little tykes who fought against the odds and are living all over the UK, such as little Millie - born at 21 weeks and who is now living well in Manchester.

Yes, we're bastards, aren't we, ignoring all those exceptional cases? Incidentally, as someone mentions in the comments about little Millie:

Millie, the baby cited by Nadine, stood a 1 in 100 chance of survival, and that is after major medical intervention (costing £many thousands). Her twin, born a few moments earlier, died. Millie still required oxygen when she finally went home in 2007.

It's also worth remembering that in the Trent study released last weekend, none of the babies born at 22 weeks survived.

No, far better to deploy the foeticide technique. One has to ask the question: if the pro?abortionists argue that the upper limit at which abortion takes place doesn't need to come down because babies don't survive below 23 weeks, why do we need to use lethal injection and a technique more suited to a butcher than a doctor, to make sure they don't try?

Oh, I don't know, possibly because it's rather more humane than letting them die slowly, as Dorries herself supposedly experienced? Or maybe because, if the research Dorries herself relies upon does turn out in future to be correct, it results in as little trauma as possible occurring to the foetus? Actually, am I misinterpreting here, or is Dorries really suggesting that we let nature take its course in front of the mother? There's heartlessness, then there's Ms Dorries apparently. Or maybe that's the point: that'll teach her a lesson she'll never forget.

You would think that, being an advocate of safe, free and swift access to abortion in the first trimester, I might have avoided the horrors that usually befall any MP who so much as whispers the word "abortion" in Westminster.

By first trimester Dorries of course means 9 weeks, not 12 weeks, which is her personal favoured option, although despite her 20 reasons for 20 weeks campaign, she's also signed an amendment which supports 16 weeks. It seems she either can't make up her mind, or she's seriously hedging her bets. Additionally, by "advocate of safe, free and swift access to abortion", she also means that she's deeply concerned by the relaxation of the rules proposed by some, which means that rather than early abortions she's in favour of women going through the regular route of abortion services, which the self-same committee she sat on noted were causing "unnecessary delays" to patients".

I thought that. Which is why, as someone who will do anything to avoid housework, I was especially hacked off to find the word "bich" smeared on my window last Saturday morning. I'm not sure what displeased me more: the bad spelling, the fact that I had to dust cobwebs off the Marigolds, or that the dogs hadn't barked.

Not especially pleasant, but also not necessarily linked to her current campaigning. Judging by her conduct towards Ben Goldacre and Caroline Flint, I'd hazard to suggest that Dorries seems to have a special knack of pissing people off.

As I write this, my PA is on the phone to the police - again. We're on first-name terms; I know I'll be on the Met's Christmas card list. My house is "flagged" by police, as are the homes of my staff.

At least they are being involved then, which suggests that Dorries is for once being truthful.

The second dismembered doll arrived in the post this week and the number of abusive phone calls, emails and letters we have received are too numerous to mention. People are crawling all over my expenses - which I am happy for them to do - and there are the usual nasty websites.

Oh, so it wasn't shit then, but rather the less traumatic dismembered doll. Most of this is what she put on her "blog" earlier in the week, with the same lack of evidence behind her claims as then. Again Ms Dorries, if by some off-chance you happen to read this, how about providing some proof, or letting us know where what these "nasty" websites are, because if you're talking about DK or Unity who are a little more vitriolic than some of us other inhabitants of the blog world, then you're talking trash and don't understand the internet any more than you seemingly do much else.

You can't phone my Westminster office today without first being screened by the switchboard. Perversely, this animosity gives me strength. This and the fact that three-quarters of women and two-thirds of GPs support what I will try to do when the Embryology Bill comes before Parliament next week: to reduce the upper time limit at which abortions can be carried, from the current limit of 24 weeks to 20 weeks.

Dorries is yet again relying on the same old polls which are skewed from the beginning. A more reliable poll, conducted recently by YouGuv (PDF), although still slightly iffy, found that support for the current limit was at 35% with those in favour of a reduction at 48%, which is nowhere near the levels which Dorries claims. It's also to be expected when so much of the media is giving acres of room to Dorries and the emotional but irrelevant "4D" images which go hand in hand with it.

People often ask me why I'm a Conservative. It's not the usual political default position for a girl from a Liverpool council estate. Well, for me being a Conservative is about protecting the most vulnerable in our society. Who can be more vulnerable than a baby struggling to breathe in a bedpan?

Protecting the most vulnerable and the Conservative party - they go together like Graham Norton and tastefulness.

The activists can smear away - I will continue to fight the horrible injustice that befalls 2,500 babies a year. It feels like it's me and the memory of a lost baby against the rest of the world and a bunch of graffiti artists. But I am determined that something good will come from that day.

No, Nadine, it's not us doing the smearing - it's you, just as it always has been. The horrible injustice is that you're basing the entirety of your campaign on either distortions, junk science and plain old bullshit, while you're in league with those who want to completely deny women the right to choose, just as you claim that you're in fact pro-choice. The only good thing that might come from that day would be if you went back, and for just half a second, maybe just thought whether the poor speller had something of a point and whether your behaviour over the last year has been becoming of a politician. We already know you won't - you couldn't be introspective or doubtful for a second if you tried. The tragedy is that we continue to be represented by such dishonest, unaccountable and unpleasant characters as yourself, and no amount of playing the victim is going to change that.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2008 

The hounds of love are calling.

All together now, everyone say "awwwww":

The Hounds of Hell are chasing me.

Her arguments debunked, the only thing left to Nadine Dorries to resort to is pure emotional blackmail, and to claims that her opponents are victimising her.

We received another unpleasant parcel in the post today. Nasty web sites set up, email account and post bag bombarded, people crawling all over my expenses, which they are entitled and I am very very happy for them to do...

Come now Nadine, let's not mess about with euphemisms, spit out exactly what was in this "unpleasant" parcel. See, the trouble is, when you either lie or be blatantly dishonest, or refuse to apologise to others when you've accused them of things they haven't done, it tends to make it more difficult to believe them when it comes to everything else. As Unity says, incidentally, if there is a moron out there sending Dorries dog shit or something similarly nasty, then don't, because as Dorries is attempting to do with this post, it then blackens everyone who is arguing against her pitiful campaign. It is worth questioning though where these "nasty" web sites are; as far as we're aware there are two that Dorries might claim are "nasty", one set-up to hold comments for her posts when she removed them from her own blog, and one which has now been dead for months. All the rest have been exposing her claims with at times remarkable restraint.

Scary, threatening angry and downright nasty phone calls. A message smeared on my window.

As said, I'm not going to say that Dorries is either making it up or lying about this stuff, but it would make it easier to believe if she provided some evidence beyond just a blog post, or indeed, informed the police of what's been happening.

This is all meant to destabilise or distract me.

I have a very clear message to those who are attempting to do this – back off. You will not stop me, you will not undermine me, you do not scare me. In fact, you make me much more determined than I ever was before. You give me strength.


And then just to rub in how she doesn't care for anyone else's opinion or indeed, the facts themselves, she once again posts the image of Samuel Armas with the doctor Joseph Bruner, lifting the baby's arm and gently putting it back in the womb, not the other way around, as both she and the photographer, Michael Clancy, continue to propogate. It would be difficult for an anaesthetized mother and/or child to move in such a way, but again, this just shows the sort of impervious to reason individual we are dealing with: despite formerly being a nurse, despite attempting to claim that she is arguing on the basis of science, she continues to use the most base pro-life propaganda for her cause.

You can almost understand why someone might send her their dog's defecation, can't you? It would also help if she and the others didn't have such apparent contempt for their opponent's points of view, as Simon Hoggart wrote in his sketch on Tuesday:

Dari Taylor, a Labour MP, made a moving speech in favour, describing how it might have meant she could have had the baby she yearned for. The effect was, I fear, slightly spoiled by Ann Widdecombe and Nadine Dorries - both vocal opponents - talking loudly on the Tory frontbench while she spoke.

Dorries herself reaches for the emotion and expects everyone to listen, and weep along with her at the tragedy of babies being brutally put to death, and then demand action. When someone else does the same thing, her intention is to drown it out. Yet it's us, "the hounds of hell", which are chasing her. Maybe it's actually her conscience trying to tell her something.

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Friday, May 09, 2008 

The lying lies and dirty secrets of Ms Nadine Dorries MP.

By her own admission, Nadine Dorries MP is a liar. Back in March she presented an known urban myth as an emotional case for why the current abortion limit of 24 weeks should be cut to 20 weeks, and when this was pointed out to her, she responded by making arguments that only exposed her ignorance. Dorries has a long record of never apologising and never admitting that she has made mistakes: last year she accused Ben Goldacre of "a serious breach of parliamentary procedure" after he downloaded information from a parliamentary committee's website which Dorries thought he had obtained from a committee member, something for which she never apologised for and when asked when she was going to do so on her blog she removed the comments sections. She additionally, after accusing Caroline Flint among other MPs of having been "bought by the abortion industry", a claim rejected by the parliamentary standards commission, not only refused to apologise to Flint after she confronted her but crowed about not doing so on her "blog".

Dorries is therefore the perfect figurehead for the "20 reasons for 20 weeks" campaign, a coalition of Conservative MPs with single token Liberal Democrat and Labour supporters, along with religious, mainly Christian anti-abortion organisations. Like her, they rely on abusing, misinterpreting and distorting available information for their views, or alternatively, on the evidence of individual doctors which has been called into question by others. As well as that, in order to not come across as opposing abortion in all circumstances, something which would result in their campaign becoming an even damper squib than it already is, they instead claim to be pro-choice but feel that the current limit is too long as more foetuses survive beyond the 20 week mark.

The only problem with this is that little by little, their real views are being exposed. The already noted lone Labour supporter of the 20 weeks campaign, Jim Dobbin, is in fact in favour of a 13-week limit, but regards the current campaign as being a step towards that. He is also, coincidentally, opposed to contraception. The Christian Medical Fellowship openly states that this is just the first step towards the abolition of the right to abortion altogether. CARE currently has a news article up on their web site expressing their horror at the European Parliament passing a resolution which states "
that women have a right to access safe and legal abortion, and calls on all member states to decriminalise abortion 'within reasonable gestational limits'". Christian Concern for Our Nation, whose website is the most clap-happy and even more religiously inclined than the Evangelical Alliance's is, urge their members to pray for "a great miracle" when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill goes through the Commons. Coincidentally, a founder member of CCON is the man behind the 20 weeks' website, directly linking Dorries, who has mostly eschewed religious dogma in her personal campaign, with them. The LIFE charity only supports abortion where the life of the mother herself is threatened. The Prolife Alliance, as one would expect, is also completely opposed to abortion (PDF).

Perhaps those organisations might then be surprised to learn that Dorries herself, when a Conservative parliamentary candidate for Hazel Grove, campaigned on a pro-choice platform. It's not clear whether Dorries at the time was in favour of the limit as it stands, or whether it's just another example of her being wholly disingenuous, as she claimed, when questioned on her current views last year on the Spectator website, to favour a 9-week limit, even lower than that of Dobbin. She was also formerly a director of BUPA, one of the companies she now accuses of being part of the "abortion industry".

Unfortunately for Dorries, the shit over her underhand means is likely to hit the fan if not this weekend, then certainly next week. Dorries' website and blog is funded from the incidental expenses provision, the rules of which clearly state that such funds should not be used for campaigning on the behalf of a political party or a personal cause: Dorries' website is chock-full of her doing just that, the most egregious examples her vindictive posts on female pro-choice Labour MPs. A complaint to the commissioner for parliamentary standards is in the offing.

Meanwhile, Dorries has been highly vexed by the latest research published in the British Medical Journal, as reported today in the Grauniad and elsewhere. Like in the Epicure 2 study, this found that while the survival rates of babies born at 24 and 25 weeks is improving, there was no statistical improvement in those born at 23 and 22 weeks. At 23 weeks 18% survived; at 22 weeks none did. Her response to this peer-reviewed study, which completely blows her argument that neo-natal survival rates are increasing out of the water, was to say:

"I think this report insults the intelligence of the public and MPs alike. No improvement in neonatal care in 12 years? Really? So where has all the money that has been pumped into neonatal services gone then?" She called the study "the most desperate piece of tosh produced by the pro-choice lobby."

As BD says, the study actually does show that neonatal care has improved, just at 24 and 25 weeks. As those against lowering the limit have consistently argued, this research backs up the point that the viability threshold has been reached, and that those that have survived at 22 weeks are extremely welcome but overall rare anomalies and blips. They do not support lowering the current limit as it stands.

That though, despite the 20 weeks' campaign's insistence, has never been what they really thought. They want abortion restricted no matter what the science and evidence suggests, and if it takes one step at a time and hiding their real arguments behind pseudo-scientific bluster, so be it. Out of all the MPs that this blog has covered over the last few years, it's safe to say that none (with the exception of dear Tony) has been as underhand, as genuinely unpleasant, manipulative, vindictive and dishonest as both Dorries has been and apparently is. She is both a disgrace to politics as a whole and a liability to the Conservative party. The crushing of her current malignant campaign will be just the first step of the fightback.

Related posts:
Laurie Penny - 24 reasons for 24 weeks

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Friday, April 04, 2008 

The tabloids always win part one.

The tabloids have won. They always win:

Tabloid newspapers will be able to carry on using private detectives without fear of jail sentences after a government climb-down was confirmed last night.

Ministers decided to table a last-minute amendment to the current criminal justice bill under which a longstanding promise to impose jail sentences for data theft will be dropped.


The clause will remain in the bill but the threat of jail will be suspended for now. It's another "compromise" which isn't anything like a compromise: the tabloids will just carry on as they have before, laughing at how easy it is to get the government to roll over when they repeatedly break the law and lie about how it would "affect investigative journalism", the kind they haven't practised for decades.

As David Leigh, the Guardian's head of investigations, says on CiF:

Industry lobbyists have claimed that journalists might be in unjustified peril because they often commission inquiries not being certain where they will lead, and therefore might be unable to establish a public interest defence. This is the purest hogwash. If you buy Amy Winehouse's mother's mobile phone records, say, then you know perfectly well there is no public interest involved.

Not to mention how it often doesn't even lead anywhere. Ken Livingstone notes that he's been one of those most targeted by these kind of "investigations" before, getting into his bank details, with Steve Whittamore and his gang being involved also, and still none of them managed to find out until very recently that he had fathered another three children, with him breaking the news to kill the paper's "scoop".

As one Whitehall figure said this week: "These media barons - just how much power do they have?"

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006 

Rendition: Those liars and their lies in full.


Unless we all start to believe in conspiracy theories and that the officials are lying, that I am lying, that behind this there is some kind of secret state which is in league with some dark forces in the United States, and also let me say, we believe that Secretary Rice is lying, there simply is no truth in the claims that the United Kingdom has been involved in rendition full stop, because we have not been, and so what on earth a judicial inquiry would start to do I have no idea. I do not think it would be justified. While we are on this point, Chairman, can I say this? Some of the reports which are given credibility, including one this morning on the Today programme, are in the realms of the fantastic.

-- Oral evidence given by Jack Straw to the Foreign Affairs committee on 13th of December 2005.

I, I have absolutely no evidence to suggest that anything illegal has been happening here at all, and I'm not going to start ordering inquires into this, that and the next thing when I've got no evidence to show whether this is right or not - and I honestly, and you know, it's like all this stuff about camps in Europe or something - I don't know, I've never heard of such a thing.
I can't tell you whether such a thing exists - because, er - I don't know.

-- Tony Blair speaking at his press conference on the 21st of December 2005.

We already knew that those camps that Tony Blair had "never heard of" existed, as George Bush was forced into admitting they did. Don't worry though, everyone in them was treated humanely, and they certainly weren't tortured.

The most curious thing about the whole rendition scandal is that the same government which didn't know anything about the CIA's fleet of planes and the ghost prisons across the globe, and hence, you would think, has then got nothing to hide, has been so determined to push the debate forward, as outlined in the leaked New Statesman memo. For a government that always dismisses civil liberties concerns with the old adage that "if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear", it's odd that government ministers and advisers have been so thoroughly uncooperative with the EU investigation into rendition. If they didn't know anything, why would they do everything they possible could to obstruct and filibuster the Europe-wide inquiry?

The reason, as you've already guessed, is that the government is actually up to its neck in the scandal, as the draft EU report makes clear. Not only have there been another 100 flights linked conclusively to the rendition program which landed in the UK, but the report, drawn up by the Italian socialist MEP Giovanni Claudio Fava, who has received death threats for his trouble, also finds that the government did in fact know full well about the visits by our friends in the CIA. As well as lying about this, they then set out to do everything they could to both play down and ignore the questions asked of them by the committee set up by the EU.

Geoff Hoon, the hapless and hopeless Europe minister, is singled out for the strongest criticism after he adopted the "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" approach when questioned by the committee. Sir Michael Wood, legal adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who you might remember from the Craig Murray documents, repeated the same assertion he made there, that information obtained through torture, as long as there was no "direct" involvement in the torture involved, was not illegal under international law. The "information" discussed in those documents was from the Uzbek security services, who among other methods, have been known to rape men and women with glass bottles in order to obtain confessions. The US State Department website page on Uzbekistan admits that "the police force and the intelligence service use torture as a routine investigation technique." That gives an insight into the mindset of those drawing up their considered legal opinions; they know full well how the information they receive is gotten, yet when it comes for them to give evidence to committees set up to investigate the kidnapping of European citizens, who are then taking to "black holes" and tortured, they refuse to even justify their opinions to them.

Perhaps most shocking, or perversely, actually predictably discomforting, is that the denial and no comment policy was adopted across the whole of the EU, making the whole organisation complicit. Nato's chief executive refused to give evidence. The EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana was also criticised for his lack of cooperation with the committee. The only conclusion that conceivably be came to is that the governments and their security services honestly thought that they would get away with it. One of the justifications used by Condoleezza Rice was that the United States had been "rendering" prisoners for decades, which is true, but not on anywhere near the scale as in the last five years, and neither had they then been tortured with the help of friendly foreign security services.

Whether the government's arrogance was down to the belief that anything can now be justified in the war on terror, or simply due to the belief that the CIA had covered their trails well enough doesn't really matter. After the system was exposed, instead of admitting to their role in allowing those kidnapped to be rendered, with CIA planes refueling in Britain, they instead denied all knowledge, and continue to deny all knowledge. Rather than condemning a practice that is clearly contrary to international law, they've simply said that they don't approve of it. Instead of investigations, we've had lies. This ought to be a front page reaching scandal. Ministers should be resigning. The sad fact is that in five short years, Britain has moved from laughably championing the benefits of an "ethical foreign policy" to turning a blind eye while men such as Binyam Mohammad endured "horrific torture" by proxy, with our own security services supplying information to "help". While those accused of being terrorists rot in Guantanamo Bay, the head of MI5 makes speeches about the terrorist threat that we've helped create, and like her colleagues refuses to give evidence to investigatory committees. Worst of all, we're letting them get away it.

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