If it hasn’t already registered, 2012 is the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, and if Dickens is your kind of thing then you’ll be well catered for over the next few months as there are something of the order of 18 separate radio and television programmes based on his work that are due to air over the next couple of months including the BBC’s flagship adaptation of Great Expectations and a radio adaptation of Martin Chuzzlewit set in Mumbai.
Over the weekend, The Observer made its own contribution to the upcoming festivities, a contemporary adaptation of Dickens’ 1855-57 satire on the shortcoming of government and society, which the paper’s headline writers really should have called, simply, ‘Little Dorries’
Has Nadine Dorries had a good year, or a bad? Even she seems not to be sure how to answer this.
So, no change there…
Although her amendment to the health bill, on abortion, was defeated in the Commons in September, she is willing to bet that “this time next year a regulatory framework will have been introduced requiring all abortion providers to offer counselling to any woman who presents with an emergency pregnancy” – a prospect she regards as “fantastic”, even if she is disconcertingly vague when it comes to the fine print. (Will this “framework” pass into law? And if it doesn’t, how will it be implemented? “I don’t know,” she says, with a dismissive flick of her head.)
It remains to be seen how this will all pan out. However, one of the more notable things about the recently published RCPsych/NCCMH systematic review of the evidence on abortion and mental health was that the final version was, rather pointedly, published under the auspices of Academy of Medical Royal Colleges rather than via NCCMH or RCPsych, all of which rather hints at a degree of closing ranks at the top of the medical profession in response to Dorries’ attempts to attack and undermine the position of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
With any proposals for changes in the existing regulatory framework due to go out to consultation and the Royal Colleges seemingly making an effort to get all their own ducks in a row, I suspect the better bet here is that whatever changes the government do make, they won’t be the ones that Dorries was hoping for.
Then again, these are strange times to be a rebellious Tory woman. In September, David Cameron reduced his backbenchers to hysteria when he noted aloud that he knew Dorries was “extremely frustrated”. Cameron soon apologised, but it is clear that his victim is still smarting. Did she feel his text message was insincere? She pulls a face. “You’ll have to make your own mind up about that.”
‘Cameron’ and ‘sincere’ are hardly words one expects to see in the same sentence but nevertheless its fair to say that his remarks are pretty indicative of the general level of contempt in which Dorries is held by large sections of her own party.
Something about Dorries, the MP for Mid- Bedfordshire, attracts a special kind of heat.
From what I’m given to understand, the kind of ‘heat’ that Dorries attracts is often referred to as ‘X-Pac heat’ by fans of professional wrestling, this being the kind of heat that signifies that fans rather wish that a particular wrestler would just disappear off the face of the earth and into a state of well-deserved obscurity, never to be seen again, rather than what’s called ‘heel heat’, where are wrestler playing the bag guy role deliberately, and successfully, winds up the audience in an effort to get them to make an emotional investment in an upcoming match with a ‘babyface’ character, i.e. the good guy.
Yes, the issues around abortion are guaranteed to raise blood pressure; Dorries knew this perfectly well when she attempted to have abortion providers such as Marie Stopes stripped of their role in counselling women (she wanted so-called independent organisations to do the job instead, a change pro-choice campaigners feared would provide openings for counsellors linked to anti-abortion groups). But even so, she was unprepared for what followed. “Some of the reporting – my position was grossly misrepresented – gave ammunition to the nutters out there,” she says. “It was horrific. I had death threats. One person described how my skin would peel off my body as I was trapped in a locked, burning car. “
A few people got the wrong end of the stick as regards whether or not what Dorries was pushing would amount to mandatory counselling for perfectly understandable reasons she’s tried that one on parliament before back in 2006. Nevertheless, Dorries has been up to her usual tricks over the course of her most recent anti-abortion campaign, selling her amendments on the back of a false prospectus, liberally smearing her opponents – and that’s Dorries’s sole concession to the concept of liberalism – and trying (and failing) to conceal her real agenda.
A smarter politician would realise when they’ve become hopelessly compromised and retire gracefully from their field, but self-awareness is anything but Dorries’s strong suit, which is just one reason why she’s been deserved (and recently) dubbed Britain’s ‘Poundshop Palin’.
As for the ‘death threats’, we have but one verified incident and even that isn’t all that might appear from Dorries’ version of events – this ‘threat’ was nothing more than a very dumb and absurdly hyperbolic comment on an online forum that Dorries got wind of via a ‘someone’s said something dumb on teh Interwebs’ email from a third party. This is hardly the stuff of a major security alert, in fact it barely qualifies as a threat at all as and by far the most stupid thing about it was this it provided Dorries with an open opportunity to play the victim in an effort to deflect attention aware from the mass of legitimate criticism that’s been flying in her direction, particular over her less than open and transparent dealings with the House of Commons fees office.
So what is it about her that gets people so worked up? Why do some men – Andrew Neil joked about being “madder than a box of Nadine Dorrieses” – feel able to laugh at her in so unbridled a fashion?
Taking these two questions in chronological order…
1. She’s a delusional, low-grade moron; and,
2. Who says its only men who feel able to laugh at her in ‘so unbridled a fashion’ although, to be fair, when you look at the agenda that Dorries has been peddling on abortion and sex education, its not difficult to see why many women see Dorries as being no laughing matter at all.
She thinks it’s simple sexism, though she is loth to spell this out: “You can say that, but if I do, I’m just seen as moaning, playing the woman card again.
Actually, that would be ‘playing the victim’ again as Dorries’ gender genuinely has nothing to do with the criticism that’s directed toward her and ‘Is it because I’m a bullshitter’ really isn’t much of a defence.
Look, there are two lots of MPs here. There are those who are incredibly loyal and do whatever the leadership wants because they want careers. For women MPs in that group, things are especially good, because Cameron wants more women. Then there are those who are more independently minded, like me. I disagree with Cameron on many things; I’m here for my constituents, not to do what the party wants. If you’re that kind of MP and a woman you feel the wrath 10 times more than if you were a man. You get hatred.”
That would be ‘independently minded’ in much the same sense that David Icke is ‘independently minded’ – having a mind of your own is generally a good thing, but not if that mind is stuffed to the gills with bullshit and delusions.
What will the new year bring? Dorries is convinced that the coalition, of which she is emphatically not a fan, is not long for this world. “Next year is going to be very difficult. The Lib Dems are going to hit a brick wall some time soon. I think they will use the issue of Europe as an exit from the coalition, probably towards the end of 2012. That will get them out before the Boundary Commission review, which will see their party annihilated. Do turkeys vote for Christmas? No, they don’t.”
We’ll see if Mystic Nad is on the money or not in 12 month’s time.
As for the Commons, she can’t see things improving much for its – as she sees it – persecuted and hard-pressed members. “[Thanks to the expenses scandal] it’s a place of monks and millionaires. I was with an MP the other day, and his wife rang him. She was at the supermarket checkout and her debit card had been refused. They had no money in their account. He was just distraught, and all because he’s too scared to claim travel expenses, scared of what the local paper will write if he does. People are starving, poor things.”
Well Cameron did say that we were all in this together.
Seriously, I think pretty much demonstrates exactly why it is that Dorries has come to be labelled ‘Mad Nad’ and ‘the MP for Mid-Narnia’. If she seriously thinks that she’s going to elicit sympathy for a poor wickle backbench MP on £65K a year when there’s 2.64 million people ont he unemployment register and a single unemployed adult gets the princely sum of £67.50 a week to live on then that really does show just how divorced from reality she really is.
FFS, an MP’s wife had her debit card [allegedly] refused, so its must be time for us to send for Saint Bob of Geldof and the Venerable Bono and set up a benefit gig for the starving peasants of the Westminster Village – would Wednesday week at the Westminster Arms do? Wembley a bit of big side, unless they’ll let us run the gig in a toilet.
Does she find the Commons lonely?
Is that a question about Dorries’ personal life, or is the interviewer trying to suggest that she’s a bit of a Wilhelmina-No-Mates around the Commons?
Dorries, a divorced mother of three adult daughters, is single again, having separated after just six months from John Butler, the estranged husband of an old friend (Rachael Butler accused Dorries of wrecking her marriage). “I suppose it is lonely, yes. Another single MP said to me: ‘We don’t make the last call, do we?’ He was talking about the moment when, every night at 11, after the last vote, everyone picks up their mobile and phones home.'”
Are the taxi operators not chatty down Westminster way?
Isn’t meeting someone new a possibility? “No. My friend is internet dating, and having a ball. But there’s no way I could do it. Imagine meeting Nadine Dorries on the internet.”
Oh, I don’t know, that might appeal to some people… even Peter Sutcliffe has pen pals.
She smiles, mournfully. “I’m quite resigned, as a result of my job, to being alone for the rest of my life. That’s just how it’s going to be, and I accept it.”
Ah yes, the Miss Haversham gambit – how very Dickensian and, in many ways, very apt, although don’t mention how that one ends in the book as chances are it will only end up being the latest internet ‘threat’ allegedly sent to Dorries.
Of course, Dorries could just resign and do everyone a favour but, as I pointed out earlier, self awareness has never been her strong suit.