by Stephen Tall on May 23, 2009
It’s been quite a week for Nadine Dorries, the eccentric Tory Cornerstoner MP for Mid-Bedfordshire. Yesterday she earned copious media coverage for her suggestion that MPs are on ‘suicide watch’ for their Parliamentary colleagues amidst the “unbearable” Westminster atmosphere sparked by the Telegraph’s MPs’ expenses allegations.
But when reading her blog, it wasn’t that part which most caught my attention – it was this part:
… this country has never had a Prime Minister with the political courage to stand up to the British media, and award MPs the pay rise proposed year after year, by the Senior Salary Review Board. Year after year the salary stayed the same; but the allowances were increased, were called allowances, not expenses, and MPs were told to use them. … no Prime Minister should ever have the power to use MPs’ pay as a political pawn. Hopefully the good which will come from this will be radical reform, which will prevent such a disaster ever occurring again.
So, you see, according to Nadine Dorries, it’s all Gordon’s fault MPs were forced to make questionable expenses claims – MPs such as Nadine herself who appears more than a little confused as to where she lives most of the time. (For a dissection of her claims, see Tim Ireland’s Bloggerheads here, here and here.) If only Gordon Brown had led a popular crusade to increase MPs’ pay, none of this would have happened, says Nadine.
Thing is, Nadine, it’s not all Gord’s fault. For sure, he’s most to blame – though not because, as you state, he’s left MPs impoverished by refusing to incease your pay. Rather he’s to blame because he is, after all, Prime Minister, which gives him a fair amount of power to make Parliament fairer and more transparent, an opportunity he’s constantly shrugged off. But there was an opportunity to introduce radical reform of MPs’ expenses in July last year, and – guess what? – it was rejected by the combined forces of 146 Labour MPs and 21 Conservative MPs. You can see HERE the full list of Nadine’s colleagues who voted to leave the system intact. For the record, all Lib Dem MPs present voted for reform.
Today, I see Nadine’s blog has been taken down, after she flung round some unsubstantiated rumours about the Barclay Brothers, owners of the Telegraph group. (You can still read the Google cache of her blog here, if you want to see what it’s all about.) And that’s a shame, a real shame, for two reasons.
First, the claims she makes about the Barclay Brothers could easily have been challenged by them without resorting to heavy-handed legal injunctions. It’s a rather pathetic, bullying way of dealing with such allegations. And secondly, and at least as importantly, Nadine’s increasingly bizarre blog-postings have greatly added to the gaiety of the blogosphere in the past week. To deprive the rest of us the joy of reading her contorted witterings is just bad form.