The case against Nadine Dorries MP (pt 1)


2:00 am - May 12th 2008

by Sunny Hundal    


      Share on Tumblr

Today on Liberal Conspiracy we have a treat for you. This week we officially launch our campaign: Coalition For Choice, to support the HFE Bill and develop an online advocacy group in favour of extending abortion rights over the longer term.

See the website for more about our aims.

To mark this launch we have a week of Nadine Dorries MP on Liberal Conspiracy! We will illustrate how this Conservative MP:
– has consistently misrepresented the arguments around abortion;
– is fronting campaigns by Christian groups without declaring so;
– is promoting hoaxes on her websites;
– has frequently and wrongly smeared reputable journalists and scientists;
– hides her true long-term intentions on the issue of abortion

You might already be familiar with some of these allegations. However, we plan to publish a dossier by the end of the week with all the information so it is all in one place. But first:

Today I am lodging a formal complaint with regards to the conduct of Nadine Dorries MP, specifically in relation to the misuse of the parliamentary Incidental Expenses Provision allowance, for the purpose of conducting party political/campaign activities contrary to regulations.

It is my view that Nadine Dorries MP has broken parliamentary rules numerous times by using her blog for the purposes of campaigning. I am sending off a letter of complaint, published here.

The letter of complaint (pdf)   |   Evidence of complaint (pdf)

This letter of complaint is relevant to the CfC campaign because many of the criticisms levelled by Nadine Dorries MP on other MPs relate to their pro-choice stance. This letter and other evidence forthcoming this week has been put together by researchers, various Liberal Conspirators and bloggers elsewhere (who will be noted duly).

Support the Coalition for Choice – write to your MP


(this will help you compile an email)

Facebook Page – join it!

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Blog ,Campaigns ,Coalition For Choice ,Conservative Party ,e) Briefings ,Equality ,Feminism ,Nadine Dorries ,Westminster

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


1. Sean Fear

I wish Nadine Dorries the very best of luck.

If your complaint is upheld, one loathsome MP will get a slap on the wrist, and a lot of other MPs will become more paranoid and reticent in their blogging. Is that really a good outcome.

I don’t think the way Dorries uses her blog is really that unusual. And even if it is technically breaking the rules, isn’t it healthier to encourage MPs to blog?

Dan – Isn’t the issue here more about how her blog is funded rather than how she uses it? If she was paying for it out of her own pocket she could say what she wanted on it, but as it stands, she’s breaking parliamentary rules.

You will need to include Nadina Dorries in your Coalition for Choice, as she has consistently said she is not against a woman’s right to choose.

Nadine Dorries, please correct above.

Dan:

If blogging were an expensive or complicated exercise then you might have an argument…

…but it isn’t, and other MPs either pay for their own hosting or use free services like Blogger to good effect and without breaching parliamentary regulations.

That’s the issue here, as Cath says, that fact that she appears to be using public money, and is certainly using the Parliamentary imprint, in breach of regulations.

ac256:

Nadines choice when you look deeper seems to be between not getting pregnant and having a baby.

Where is the evidence that she is against the right to choose, up to a certain gestation period?

I’m asking because it seems a little silly for a group of ‘pro-choice’ bloggers to gang up and attack somebody who says openly that they are pro-choice within limits.

In answer to your question, ac256, there are three reasons.

Firstly, you could say that someone is pro-choice if they would allow abortion up to two weeks of gestation; that would be effectively meaningless. It is entirely legitimate to campaign against the stance of Ms Dorries and others because the restrictions they would place on abortion effectively make it impossible.

Secondly, many of Ms Dorries’ fellow-travellers advocate even stricter controls – down to thirteen weeks – and in some cases, an outright ban; it is contended that the 20 weeks campaign is, for the other side, a stepping stone.

Thirdly, this is only one part of the campaign. Ms Dorries has positioned herself as one of the champions of her cause, and so it is perhaps of little surprise that her arguments will be closely examined. However, the focus on her is mostly for the reasons above. The Coalition for Choice campaign focuses on the broad sweep of the argument.

xD.

I’d add that it’s tempting to include the Trades Description Act in the dossier as what Ms Dorries calls a blog is, without comments or ping/trackbacks, not a blog.

xD.

I can only discern 2 ‘reasons’ there dave, and neither answers my question:

Where is the evidence that she is against the right to choose, up to a certain gestation period?

1) “the restrictions they would place on abortion effectively make it impossible”

As far as I am aware, the amendment aims at a 20 week limit. That would still be longer than many European countries.

How would that make abortion impossible?

2) “many of Ms Dorries’ fellow-travellers advocate even stricter controls”

Who specifically? And how does someone else’s view provide an answer to the question of Nadine Dorries being pro-choice or not?

Again, where specifically has Nadine Dorries (not anyone else) said she is not pro choice up to a certain gestation period? She said specifically on C4 news last night that she supported the right to choose.

I’m just curious, as there are hints of a strong campaign in the blog entry we are commenting and they should therefore be able to answer simple direct questions like this.

ac256 – This might answer some of your questions:

“I believe that Nadine is against abortion. She is perfectly entitled to hold that view. It is an honourable position. But what she should not do, is march under the banner of “a woman’s right to choose”. Nobody reading through “Alive and Kicking” could conclude that Nadine is in favour of abortion unless this is what you mean by “abortion per se”
http://trusted.md/feed/items/system/2008/05/07/a_challenge_to_iain_dale_and_nadine_dorries

My problem with this is that the effect will be depressingly predictable. Mrs Dorries will simply claim that we are reactionaries who are trying to muzzle free speech. I look forward to the publication of the ‘dossier’ which I hope will address the substance of the misinformation, rather than the medium by which she and others are spreading it.

ac256 @ 11

1. Your definition of pro-choice is too vague; calling yourself pro-choice for a short time frame makes you anti-choice outright or indicates that you are restricting
2. The Roman Catholic church, for starters.
3. Don’t mistake the campaign in support of the right to choose for a campaign against Ms Dorries; however, as a vocal proponent of a change in law we disagree with, it is not unreasonable for us to criticise her position.

While it may be our belief that Ms Dorries opposes abortion more than the current proposal, it does not hugely matter. We disagree with restricting abortions to twenty weeks. You could say, as I mentioned above, that someone who would allow abortion until the end of the second week of gestation is ‘pro-choice’; however, the functional result would be a restriction on abortion. The same applies here.

‘Strong elements of a campaign’? I’m glad of that – it is a campaign to oppose the restriction of abortion. Be under no doubt of that.

So just to be clear, will you be campaigning for abortions to be available up to full term?

No, we will be campaigning against the restriction that has been proposed by Ms Dorries.

“it is a campaign to oppose the restriction of abortion”

But abortion is already restricted beyond 24 weeks.

Other than arguing for no changes to existing legislation, will you be campaigning for anything to be introduced?

Yes. In the second sentence of the original post, it says that the campaign is ‘to support the HFE Bill’.

>>>I look forward to the publication of the ‘dossier’ which I hope will address the substance of the misinformation, rather than the medium by which she and others are spreading it.

These are on their way, Robert.

This is just a ‘sighter’ and, to be honest, the question of how Dorries funds her ‘blog’ and her apparent disregard for parliamentary regulations has been noted on a number of previous occasions.

This time around, the decision has been taken to raise the matter through official channels.

Unity, Cath:

Either:
a) Blogging is cheap – in which case Dorries’ misuse of funds is insignificant
or
b) Blogging is expensive – in this case attacking Dorries is more reasonable, but the chilling effect on other blogging MPs will be more serious.

Maybe she is the only MP ‘misusing’ a publicly-funded blog like this. I’d be surprised, but I’m not about to go hunting for counter-examples.

Anyway, I don’t mean to dump on your campaign. I won’t be cheering it on, but you might technically (if not morally) have a case. And at least you’re doing something (which is more than I am…)

Dan @ 19

Er, no.

The point is not the money, but the principle of using official funds and the Portcullis device to lend weight, whether deliberately or not, to a political campaign.

It’s not just about the money.

Obviously an MP should be investigated if they have misused public funds, but wouldn’t a Parliamentary Committee have already spotted her misusing her blog seeing as it’s been running for quite a while?

OK, having flicked through a few MPs’ sites, I concede she is rare in using a govt-funded website as a platform for ranting. I still think it’s a petty thing to attack her for, but I guess that’s just how politics goes 🙁

Letters from a Tory @ 21 – unusual to see a Tory having such confidence in the state! The answer may be no, and

Dan @ 22 – there needs to be a distinction between the apparatus of state, the machinery of government and attempts to change the former.

Worth remembering that Ms Dorries has been warned about a related issue in the past:
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmselect/cmstnprv/1368/136802.htm

Dan:

Dave’s correct – the money side is likely to be relatively trivial when compared to, say, Derek Conway buncing his kids through Uni at the taxpayer’s expense.

It’s the use of the Portcullis, which amounts to a claim to the imprimatur of Parliament, that is the more serious issue here…

There is also the question of Nad’s personal integrity and credibility, which will be explored in considerably more detail over the course of the week.

One thing you might find interesting to reflect upon is that if you visit the blog of ‘Dr Crippen’ , who is probably as the top medical blogger in the UK (‘John’ is a GP although, obviously, ‘Crippen’ is a pseudonym) you’ll find that while he would support a cut in the upper time limit to 20 weeks, he will not be supporting Dorries’ campaign out of distaste for her tactics and general lack of verisimilitude.

I’ve personally got a lot of respect for John and even though we disagree over the time limit, I understand and respect his reasons for advocating a reduction to 20 weeks – in no sense could I respect Dorries’ views,.

In fact I have more time for the likes of Anne Widdecombe, who is at least honest in her outright opposition to legal abortion, than I do for Dorries, who thinks nothing of trading in lies, smears and misinformation in order to advance her agenda.

LFAT:

“…wouldn’t a Parliamentary Committee have already spotted her misusing her blog seeing as it’s been running for quite a while?”

Not necessarily.

The structure for dealing with breaches of standards in parliament is a tribunal-based system in which investigations are conducted only in response to complaints.

They would only have cause to review the manner in which Dorries funds and operates her website if given cause to do so by a complaint – they are not a proactive regulatory body.

It may, perhaps, be a little surprising that no one has formally complained about her antics before now, although there may be a school of thought amongst Labour/Lib Dem MPs and supporters that she routinely provides such a rich vein of stupidity that its worth leaving her alone in anticipation of having reams of campaign material to mine come the next election.

Unity: I’m under no illusions about Dorries and her campaign. It’s enough for me that every statistic in their 20 reasons is either false or misleading. When you move on to campaigning about abortion itself, I’ll be much more actively on-board.

the Portcullis: if you say so. I don’t believe I’ve ever encountered anybody who would treat something more seriously because it had the Portcullis on it. I can’t imagine it having any practical significance, and as a point of principle – well, it feels like you found a point of principle to have something to beat her with. But I’m not well-informed on the niceties of parliamentary procedure – maybe this is a Very Big Thing within westminster.

Dan:

“maybe this is a Very Big Thing within westminster”

Trust me, it is – Parliament is extremely protective of its public image, hence the plethora of regulations covering what MPs can and cannot legitimately do when acting as Parliamentarians as opposed to simply being politicians and members of a political party.

I agree with Unity. Moreover, it not only is but should be; the state cannot give endorsement to campaigns like this, IMHO.

The state cannot endorse political campaigns for changes in the law because the state is the enforcer of the law.

Should the weight of the state be used to intervene in the internal political debates of the nation it’s legitimate right to use force is brought into question and creates a constitutional crisis.

There is a clear and obvious distinction between the two sides of judge and jury, which, should any anomoly become apparent must swiftly be moved against. This is an issue of legitimacy by which Dorries’ use of the Portcullis to give credence to her campaign undermines the stature of all other laws.

One could argue that this was the history behind the religious wars of the reformation and earlier, as the principle question asked is about the precedence of legitmate authority.

Dorries’ anti-secularism is exactly why there remains lingering suspicion against perceptions of popery in Roman Catholics in this country (the theological similarities with islamist promoters of a single temporal caliphate are striking).

It looks to me like she’s guilty as charged, although I can’t see her getting more than a slap on the wrist for this particular misdemeanour. There have been a few other minor scandals with MPs using House of Commons stationery for party political stuff. I don’t think they went anywhere though, other than paying back the costs.

David Blunkett
Tom Levitt
David Anderson

‘Mrs Dorries will simply claim that we are reactionaries who are trying to muzzle free speech.’

She would be justified.

No, she wouldn’t. Blogs are available for free on blogger.com and wordpress.com. My website costs me about US$80 a year.

Unfortunately, this thread has come down to this side issue rather than addressing the posted criticisms of Ms Dorries and, more particularly, Ms Dorries’ own positions.

xD.

@29 Praguetory

No, she would not be justified in the claim.

There are clear guidelines about how, when and where contributions to public debate is considered acceptable and good practice, so if and when it is proved that she has contravened them (and therefore also undermined our national institutions) then to make this claim would be a dishonest and false excuse exemplifying why she is unfit for office.

Frankly Ms Dorries is childishly subversive in the pettiness of her behaviour and I would be surprised and depressed if she were able to survive at the forefront of the public arena for much longer.

Still a muppet I see, PT…

This is simple enough for even you to understand.

The complaint references the relevant regulations and provides clear evidence of where and how these have been breached – and you, above anyone, should be aware of precisely what I’m capable of when it comes to tracking down and recording evidence – or do I need remind everyone of exactly what it is you had to say about George Osborne.

Its now in the hands of the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner who, from reading previous reports, will hardly be surprised to see either a complaint of this kind or that it relates to the conduct of Nadine Dorries.

Oh, and this only the beginning… there’s much more entertainment to follow.

36. Purple42

I wasn’t so sure about this campaign at first, however having just watched the Dispatches programme “In God’s Name” and seeing with my own eyes the kind of fundamentalist loonies Dorries associates with I think she deserves all she gets.

(As an aside, I do believe the barrister (and Dorries’s chum) featured prominently in the programme had quite possibly the most slappable face I have ever seen.)

Good post, I actually came upon it on accident. You can actually make money now for good articles. At SayItAloud you can write good articles like you already have, but you can get better exposure and earn some decent money in the process. No matter what you decide I bookmarked your page. You can check out my site by clicking on my name.%d%a%d%aGoodluck and I look forward to your future postings.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Feeding The Fish » Blog Archive » That oh so obvious liberal bias!

    […] time round. It’s really amazing how every time something like this comes around it’s the lying opportunists who almost always get seen as the principled ones as opposed to those immoral, shiftless scientists […]

  2. Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » Exclusive: Dorries to Face Standards Inquiry

    […] will receive very shortly, a letter from the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards in regards to another complaint* about her conduct, one that is very much a live issue as it relates to the manner in which she […]

  3. Pickled Politics » Nadine Dorries update

    […] Dorries update by Sunny on 21st June, 2008 at 9:42 pm     A few weeks ago we submitted a complaint to the Parliamentary Standards Commission about the Tory MP Nadine Dorries and her using her blog […]

  4. Pickled Politics » Nadine Dorries MP in today’s Independent…

    […] Hundal, editor of the Liberal Conspiracy blog, complained to the Parliamentary Standards Commission, voicing concerns that Dorries may fund the site with […]

  5. Ministry of Truth » Blog Archive » Dishonesty Dorries Rides Again

    […] give a quick recap of the story so far, a short while back, Sunny put forward a formal complaint to the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards in regards to Dorries’ ‘blog’ – […]

  6. Dishonesty Dorries Rides [Yet] Again | Ministry of Truth

    […] to certain elements of Nadine Dorries’ website, a complaint you can read in full as it was openly published over at Lib Con at the time it was submitted to the […]

  7. Daftness, Dogma, Delusion and Dorries « Shiraz Socialist

    […] to the Commons votes on the bill, notably (amongst others) via a deliciously forensic week-long online crucifixion by Liberal Conspiracy. Eventually she found herself under such sustained attack that she closed off the comments facility […]





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.