Apr 22, 2010

Letter to a constituent in Mid Bedfordshire

The graphic below shows the conversation I had yesterday with Rachel Lewis [fireflylive], a voter in Mid Bedfordshire (the constituency Nadine Dorries is campaigning to retain for the Conservatives). Below that is my wider reply, which I've posted as an open letter here for two reasons:

a) Rachel is not the only person I wish to reach with this message

b) If she or anyone else wants to continue the conversation, comments are open, and they offer a little more elbow room than Twitter allows.

Dear Rachel,

It is not my intention to tell you who to vote for. I don't intervene on behalf of any party or candidate. Rather, like many people, I'm so alarmed at the depth of Nadine's dishonesty that, given the chance, I would seek to inform any voter in her constituency of her stunning deceits and shameless duplicity.

Also, I doubt very much that I can recommend any candidate who matches your description. All politicians lie. It comes with the job, and starts with the half-truths one is compelled to rely on when representing tens of thousands of people with competing/conflicting interests on matters that are often confidential. It's a fine line to walk that eventually leads to lies, often because there is little choice and/or because as human beings we are fallible (and I would hope the latter point also addresses any expectations you may have about a candidate who won't ever put a foot wrong).

But there's a world of difference between this natural hazard of politics and deliberately using falsehoods to win a debate, or (worse) telling malicious lies about your opponents in order to silence critics and gain political advantage. Nadine Dorries does the latter especially... repeatedly.

If you do your research, you'll encounter many people who speak in defence of Dorries with assurances that she is a wonderful person and claims/implications that the people criticising her (they will say 'attacking' her) are doing so for personal or party-political reasons. What none of these people will do is address the substance of those criticisms ('attacks') but, sadly, showmanship wins over substance all too often.

You will also encounter some who have so lost patience with Dorries that their tone becomes angry, and sometimes even abusive. I'll admit to losing my temper in this way myself, but I try to avoid the error when I can, as it draws attention away from the substance. In fact, defenders of Dorries (and Dorries herself) will often seek to blur lines to such an extraordinary extent that with they portray all criticism of Dorries as abuse without substance.

As you may have guessed, I'm kind of keen on the substance myself, so let's get to it now that the preliminaries are taken care of. I have many examples I can offer you of Dorries' duplicity, but I've chosen the following three examples from the campaign she headed to lower the abortion time limit for reasons of simplicity and (hopefully) clarity;


1. During the main debate before the House voted, Nadine Dorries claimed that three quarters of women specified a preference to lower the time limit to her preferred target; 20 weeks. But "three quarters of women" did not specify 20 weeks. Nadine Dorries either completely misunderstood the data or (more likely in my experience) deliberately misrepresented it in order to give the false impression that she enjoyed a popular mandate. As the raw poll data showed, it wasn't 75% of women specifying 20 weeks, but 15%, and then only because it was fed to them as an option.

I've included this example because it is the kind of lie that most people expect from politicians, in a setting where we expect them to do most of their lying (when not on the campaign trail). But differences begin with what happens after... or, rather, what does not.

After literally inviting scrutiny of her assertions in the House, Dorries has never returned to this point, despite her being challenged publicly and repeatedly on it. If this 'attack' is baseless, then why can't/won't Dorries defend the claim she was happy to make on the record in the House?

This is where uncertainty about a possible misunderstanding dissipates and it becomes clearer that what we are looking at is a calculated lie, even if it only became one after the fact.

2. Before the debate, there was a committee, but Dorries split off from that committee when it wasn't going the way she wanted and she produced her own 'minority report'. When doing so, she accused Dr Ben Goldacre, a journalist, of behaving improperly with regards to evidence passed to the committee.

Not only was this accusation false, but it showed a complete ignorance of Parliamentary procedure (the evidence was not shared improperly as she alleged; it was in the public domain).

I'd like to think that, put in a similar position, you or I would admit to the error and apologise for the false accusation. As a fellow blogger, you've probably experienced some error in the past that's been pointed out to you in comments that you have had to address in comments and/or by updating your post.

Nadine Dorries a has a 'blog', too... but she actually chose to close comments rather than face any discussion about her false accusation, and they stayed closed for months afterwards*.

(*They eventually re-opened, but closed again after her 'suicide' outburst regarding expenses.)

What is notable about this lie is that it completely avoided the substance of Dr Ben Goldacre's criticisms about evidence Dorries was relying on, and instead called into question the honesty and integrity of a man whose only allegiance is to honesty in science and medicine.

Over two years later, she had not apologised for any of it, and probably never will.

3. During the debate, Dorries presented as a key part of her evidence an image titled 'Hand of Hope'

The photographer who took this image claims the foetus reached out and grabbed the surgeon's finger.

The surgeon maintains that it was him manipulating the arm (IIRC, in order to gain access to a part of a foetus that was behind it)

What is most notable about the photographer's story is that he describes it as a miracle and speaks of it being the work of God. Regardless of where you stand on Christianity specifically or religion generally, an honest person should not present his testimony (based, as it is, on faith) as part a scientific argument, but that's exactly what Nadine Dorries did.

Further, when confronted with the conflicting account by the surgeon, she implied that he had changed his story out of fear of violence**.

(**In doing so, she further implied that the pro-choice lobby is inherently violent, when it is their opponents in this debate who have a track record of targeting doctors and other staff members attached to abortion clinics. While trying to further defend the claim, Dorries also showed a startling level of ignorance about foetal development and human biology that calls into question her claims to have worked as a fully qualified nurse.)

To claim that the surgeon would falsify his account of a life-or-death surgical procedure for any reason is a smear that calls into question their honesty and integrity, and I would hope that by now you can detect an emerging pattern.


If you wish, I can show you many different examples of Nadine Dorries doing this to many different people. She has a long track record not only of attempting to deceive the electorate, but of spreading malicious lies and falsehoods about those who dare to confront or oppose her.

To bring this letter to a close, I'd like to touch on the matter of the incinerator (and invite you to furnish me with any relevant specifics);

I don't wish to belittle your concerns, but the thing about projects like incinerators is that they always end up becoming political footballs, as they're easy to object to while seeming a bit green, and we generate so much garbage that there's nearly always a landfill/recycling/incinerator proposal on the table come election time (much like there are always potholes to be filled, and mobile phone masts to object to). Even Nick Herbert, the shadow cabinet Environment Secretary, is objecting to a recycling centre in his own constituency.

Also, even if Nadine Dorries presents herself as the only candidate who opposes this incinerator, or the only candidate capable of stopping it, I doubt very much if she is as sincere about it as she appears, especially in light of this tweet from a fellow constituent of yours that appeared during our conversation:

"re: a claim dorries made about opposing an incinerator; when public meeting was held on this she arrived 15 mins after the end" - Sandra Robinson

If you're interested, I would very much like to continue this chat, and I look forward to any reply, especially if you would do me the honour of trusting me to host our conversation (i.e. if you choose to respond here, under 'comments').


Tim Ireland

Over to you, Rachel. No rush. We have a couple of weeks.


UPDATE (23 April) - Rachel would like us to know that engaging with her on this point (and I suspect any other) is a waste of time. She says so quite explicitly...

Lie back and think of Ireland...
Sadly for you I am not one for a fight. I do not specialise in being very political and I am not going to take your blog apart piece by piece and argue the toss about what you have said. When it comes to politics I'm sure you know what you're talking about. Well, I hope you know what you're talking about or else you really need to get out more, dear. That's quite an obsession you have with Mrs Dorries. Other blonde ladies are available; not me sadly, although you're welcome to get in the queue... I want to say thank you for all the work you have put in to your blog post. As a seasoned blogger myself, although not doing even a gnats chuff of the research you do (I haven't the time, I work, I'm a Mum, I have a life); I think it's a truly special and wonderful thing you do, to sit in your mansion / house / flat / bedsit / parent's back room, in Guildford, Slurrey and work so hard and care so much about us poor people here in Middle Narnia; cruelly afflicted by having Satan's Handmaiden... [etc. etc. etc.]

... and to be honest I suspected as much when I saw this tweet that immediately followed our earlier conversation:

Speaking in defence of Dorries, she's reduced to making it personal and (it must be noted) creepily sexual in places. For the record, I've got nothing against her* personally but it's always disappointing when people go to this much effort to waste your time (and theirs) while simultaneously lecturing you for wasting your time.

Obviously, Rachel is not going to appreciate that Dorries is different because of the personal attacks she engages in (she spends the whole time ignoring Dorries' attacks, while portraying criticism of her as a personal attack, and engaging in one herself while she's about it ) so I think we're done here.

[*Or the people of Mid Bedfordshire, for that matter, but I can't say that I speak for all of us here in Slurrey.]


Chris Paul said...

Is Rachel a sock puppet or otherwise channeler? Sounds like it.

Wonder what she thinks about Nadine's main home mallarkey, her business and repossession problems, her husband (or is he) and his unlicensed investment advice, her unsuitable but jobbed up daughters and so on and so forth.

IMO none of this is off limits for scrutiny and so I have been scrutinising it, quite gently.

Go Nads Now. Cameron should have sacked her as candidate. I cannot understand why he has not done so. Nadine Dorries is an albatross. And Cameron is all at sea.

Tim said...

No puppeting here. I suspect she is friends with Nadine Dorries, and I do wish she'd be clearer about that rather than dropping hints in between snide remarks.

Ms Humphrey Cushion said...

How frustrating that some people fail to see what is clearly in front of their faces. Rachel, you need a new best friend, one who will be as loyal to you as you are to her, remember Stephen Rhodes?

Tim - keep chipping away, I for one greatly admire the way you spend your time.

Unknown said...

They've obviously had some contact in the past:



I would guess you've been trying to convince a Tory voting friend of Nadine to vote against Nadine. Hence, no luck. :)

Unknown said...

Doesn't Rachel have something to do with the local Baptist Church? The same place that Nadine Dorries has visited for their Remembrance Day service in years past.


Tim said...

Yes, they pass what they think to secret/coded messages about their friendship and its origins In Twitter from time to time. Pointing it out makes you a stalker, though.