Thursday, October 29, 2009 

How very cosy.

Nadine Dorries, that noted flag carrier for lying and libel, has managed to wring a whole £1,000 from Damian McBride over the supposed libels he sent to Derek Draper while they were considering the setting up of the now infamous "Red Rag" website. McBride, fairly enough, decided it wasn't worth the potential cost of going to court, even though these remarks about the sainted Ms Dorries were never actually published, were private remarks sent from one person to another and which would never have entered the public domain had Derek Draper's email not been "hacked" by persons unknown and sent to Guido Fawkes. It would have been fun of course for McBride to argue in court that Dorries had no reputation to defend, and considering that Dorries' lawyer has turned out to be Donal Blaney, hardly the most feared silk in the libel capital of the world, you would have rated his chances.

Alas, it was not to be. It is of course completely irrelevant that Dorries spent that weekend herself making clearly libellous accusations that Tom Watson knew about McBride's behaviour and did nothing about it, something which both the Mail on Sunday and the Sun have now paid far larger sums out in damages to Watson for repeating. It is also by no means hypocritical that Guido, a person who laughs at libel laws and declares that he is above such things, has profited from delivering the writ to McBride. Fawkes is also, of course, a libertarian blogger and in no way associated with the Conservative party, despite the fact he has earned from delivering a letter on behalf of a Conservative MP, the other of which was also delivered by a piss-poor Tory blogger, and which was from the offices of the equally piss-poor Donal Blaney, a Tory blogger. Is that clear? Good.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009 

Weekend links.

Story of the weekend remains expenses, but it's rather branched out, since the Telegraph (apparently) succeeded in getting Nadine Dorries and her wacky (as described by the Tories themselves) allegations about the Barclay brothers removed from her website. The Barclay brothers are notoriously litigious and prickly about their privacy, but to be taking such nonsense seriously and deeming it so potentially wounding that it has to be removed by legal means is a spectacular own goal. Dorries had quite obviously just ruined her image as a victim following the Damian MacBride debacle; now she has it back once again, and can even rely on her allies to proclaim her the latest free speech martyr. From a newspaper which has in some instances (such as over Brown's cleaner, where it was apparent that he had done nothing wrong) got the wrong end of stick over the expenses information handed it, it rather sticks in the claw that it's reacting in much the same way as the MPs it's exposing.

Elsewhere, not to big myself up or anything, but there's my latest post over on the Sun Lies concerning the paper's Baby Peter coverage, Alan Thomas on Lib Con calls for an election, with some interesting comments below it, Craig Murray defends Dorries' freedom to blog, Paul Linford has his latest column, Flying Rodent returns with a majestic post on expenses, Mr Eugenides adds to the Dorries comment, as does Rhetorically Speaking, Freemania sees a gap in the gate market, and Daily Quail notes the Mail's lovely coverage of a former front page superstar.

In the papers, Matthew Parris says kick them, but not necessarily out, Janice Turner also defends MPs to an extent, considering their work load, while Geoffrey Wheatcroft in the Graun does almost the opposite, Deborah Orr talks how prison is not the place for those who wish to do harm to themselves, Chris Mullin attempts to argue that not all MPs are at it, while Andrew Grice also wonders if Westminster justice is fair.

Worst tabloid article of the weekend has us going full circle, as the Independent reprints Dorries' ravings, sans the Barclays stuff. Nice work if you can get it.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009 

The wonderful world of Nadine Dorries.

How then go things with the expenses of Ms Nadine Dorries MP, who at the weekend was facing questions concerning her allowances? Like Margaret Moran, the Labour MP for Luton South who is facing the possibility of being in a who's the more repellent fight with Esther Rantzen at the next election (Rantzen, despite everything, easily wins) after she claimed the additional costs allowance for a house in Southampton, as well as claiming for the treatment of dry rot at the property, she faced allegations that she was using the second home allowance, not to claim for a house in London but instead for the one in her constituency, which she claims she spends less time at than her digs in the Cotswolds.

Unfortunately when you're an MP that blogs about the mundane things in life, this tend to leaves a trail which might not be to her advantage. Tim points out that she has talked plenty about her time spent in Woburn, but not so much about her bolthole out in Chipping Camden. This could be because she's only recently been spending more time at the latter, and also because she "didn't want her constituents" to think she wasn't dedicating enough time to them, in her rather feeble defence, but it certainly raises questions for the internal review body which is going through the Conservatives' expenses claims and considering whether or not they're squeaky clean.

Meanwhile, there's another hole in her defence regarding other properties which she claims rather emphatically that she does not own:

I've finished going through all my receipts and thought I had better make some things crystal clear:

I do NOT own a home in South Africa.

I do NOT own a home from which I receive a rental income

That sadly isn't what the register of members' interests says:

DORRIES, Nadine (Mid Bedfordshire)

8. Land and Property
House in Gloucestershire, from which rental income is received.
Holiday home in South Africa.

This could just be Nadine's unfortunate forgetfulness. In response to a Mail on Sunday article last weekend, she wrote:

Have an article on me today which is just a joke. I haven't owned a holiday home in South Africa or owned a home in the Cotswolds since marriage split. As I have said over and over, I rent two homes. They probably got that information from the register which I probably havent up-dated but they really should have just asked me, they phone often enough!

Is it really their fault when you've forgotten, presumably, not to update the register for two years, which is when Dorries' marriage ended? Despite the publicity, Dorries has still apparently forgotten to correct this oversight: the register was last updated yesterday, and still has Dorries down as not just having two homes, but four. If it stays like it much longer it might again be worth wondering whether she's telling the whole truth.

You would forgive embattled MPs who haven't done anything wrong descending into conspiracy theories to explain just what has befallen them over the last couple of weeks. Sadly, for Nadine, such flights of fancy are a natural reflex, whether it's over a photograph she claims shows a baby thrusting its arm through the womb despite the surgeon himself denying that was the case, or over how her amendment aimed at reducing the time limit in which to have an abortion was defeated by a government whipping operation, despite the vote being a free one. Even by her standards however, the rumour mill she claims to have overheard at Westminster is a furiously operating one:

The Telegraph are uncovering a few cases of fraud, but not enough, so they are more than slightly embellishing some of the stories. I write as a case in point.

Enter the Barclay brothers, the billionaire owners of The Daily Telegraph.
Rumour is that they are fiercely Euro sceptic and do not feel that either of the main parties are Euro sceptic enough. They have set upon a deliberate course to destabilise Parliament, with the hope that the winners will be UKIP and BNP.

A quick online check of the Barclay brothers and their antics on the Island of Sark is enough to give this part of the rumour credence.

Another rumour is that the disc was never acquired and sold by an amateur, but it was in fact a long term undercover operation run by the Telegraph for some considerable time, carefully planned and executed; and that the stories of the naive disc nabber ringing the news desk in an attempt to sell the stolen information are entirely the work of gossip and fiction.

These rumours do have some credibility given that this has all erupted during the European Election Campaign and turn out is expected to be high with protest votes, courtesy of the Daily Telegraph, or should I say the Barclay brothers.

Now, if this is all a power game executed by the BBs, how would they do that?
It is a fact that these men are no fools and are in fact self-made billionaires.
I would imagine and believe that if any of this is true, they know the British psyche well enough to whip up a mood of public anger, hence the long running revelations in the DT.

Where do I get this from? Well, at heart I am just a cheeky scouser. I like to go into the rooms of the faceless and nameless in Parliament, sit on their desk and ask pertinent questions like: who are you? What do you do? I've made friends with one or two. One in particular I am very fond of. He is a mine of very astute information; and whilst in his office yesterday, we chunnered over the 'what is this all about?' question.

He reckons this is all a power game. That the British public are being worked like puppets by two very powerful men. Whipped up into a frenzy to achieve exactly what they want.

His very poignant words to me were “if any of this conjecture is true, Parliament will become full of racists, fantasists, and has-been celebrities. We will be rendered impotent and may never again regain the authority to withstand the pressure, opinion and whims of the overtly wealthy.”

Yeeessss, or it could just be that a minor official who was a civil servant has just become fantastically wealthy after he saw the opportunity to copy a hard drive containing all the expenses details, as outlined by the Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times, Mail on Sunday and the Guardian. Or are they all in on this conspiracy as well, masterminded by two gentlemen on an island, presumably stroking white cats in a sinister manner? Wouldn't it have been rather easier for the Barclays to just get the Telegraph to support UKIP, rather than the Conservatives, therefore pressurising the party to become even more Eurosceptic than embark on such a fantastically complicated and fiendish plot to forever bend the whim of parliament to them? Still, helped to distract from her own predicament for a while at least.

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Friday, May 15, 2009 

Off with their heads?

A week on from the start of the Telegraph's disclosures, and you would have thought that this would be a perfect time to begin to take stock and see how just how badly the brand of politics in general has been damaged, to take the analogy to breaking point. Yet still the story rolls on, although whether the law of diminishing returns has started to kick in yet is difficult to ascertain. Tomorrow the Telegraph, after claiming the first ministerial scalp today in Shahid Malik is set to target a Lib Dem and this blog's favourite member of parliament, Ms Nadine Dorries, who has already put up a spirited defence of herself on her blog. It's hard not to fall victim to schadenfreude, seeing two of the most downright unpleasant specimens (the other being Hazel Blears) in the Commons having to defend themselves not against accusations of being terrible politicians, which is beyond dispute, but of financial impropriety.

As always when "crisis" descends, it's easy to lose perspective. The anger which has been expressed over the past week will subside, that much is certain. Few can sustain such fury as that expressed on phone-ins and last night's cathartic edition of Question Time for such a period of time. Again, the key period to look back to for indicators of what might happen next is the last days of the Major government, but although the allegations then were far more serious than involving "petty" abuse of expenses, there was an opposition party which was felt to be on the verge of being a viable alternative, if it was not already, as well as being one which was unblemished by the scandals. This time round, although David Cameron has put in as strong a performance as could be expected by someone who knows that he has much to potentially gain from putting the government's response to shame, his own party is only marginally less, if not as culpable as the government itself. It remains the fact that the biggest rage is being directed towards the "flippers" and profiteers, such as the previously sainted Ms Blears, but no one watching Question Time could fail to note that all politicians are taking a beating.

All of this was completely avoidable. The most mystifying thing is that a week on, parliament still refuses to get everything out in the open now and end the steady corrosion which only gets worse the longer the drip, drip of revelations continues. Second only to that has been the ineptness of Labour's attempts to get a grip on the situation, almost making you wonder whether they've completely lost all hope, both in themselves and in their chances of coming anything higher than 4th in the European elections. After all, if Shahid Malik has to stand down while his claims are investigated, why on earth are Hazel Blears and Jacqui Smith still in the cabinet, regardless of their denials and in the former's case, the brandishing of cheques? The answer might well be that they're already doomed in the next reshuffle, but the way things are going you almost wonder whether there is going to be a next reshuffle: perhaps it ought to be better to get everything over with now and call an election, rather than wait for the anger to turn instead into apathy and mistrust which will be unshiftable for years to come.

There is an argument to be made, amidst all of this, for less of a reactionary response, perhaps most forcefully made by Martin Kettle, even if his blaming of the press doesn't fully wash. Pushed down the agenda, for instance, have been examples of genuine, old style Tory corruption, only by Labour peers in the Lords. Both Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor are likely to be suspended from "the other place" after they were investigated following the Sunday Times' entrapment operation in January. Petty personal enrichment and bending if not breaking of the rules looks squeaky clean and understandable compared to the boasts made by both men of what they could do in exchange for money in the old fashioned brown envelopes. Why, also, do we not reserve such fury for the £40 million which the monarchy costs us every year, to far fewer individuals for far less work while they really do live in the lap of luxury? It also reflects badly on what it seems the public really cares about: the hate expressed over the past week seems far beyond anything that was displayed at the time of the Iraq war, when life itself was cheap to leading politicians. Some of it undoubtedly boils down to pure envy, but how on earth can that be criticised when Labour's record both on poverty has been shown to be so dismal, and now when so many are having to make do on £64 a week? On more sure ground is the hypocrisy and cant of the newspapers themselves, especially of the Mail, Telegraph and Times/Sun, all of whom are owned by individuals who are either tax exiles or do their best to avoid paying their fair share while demanding that everyone else play by the rules in the most sickening, hectoring manner.

None of the above however will make any difference for the moment, such is the apparent momentum behind the story. The fear expressed by some that this could end up turning into a "Clean Hands" style affair such as that which took place in Italy in the early 90s are probably overblown, but there is little doubt that even if there are no suicides, some now seem likely to lose their seats. The irony in all this is that while our political system is rotten in so many ways, whether down to party tribalism, whipping, or fear of offending the real power in the land, it seems likely to be the moats, trouser presses and swimming pool repairs which bring it back down to earth. In the end, we will all end up the losers in a who can wear the hairiest shirt contest, and change which fails to tackle the real problems, such as the change offered by David Cameron, will turn out be just as illusionry as that offered by New Labour.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008 

Nadine Dorries just cannot stop lying.

What is it exactly that causes individuals to lie and mislead when they know full well that their untruths are likely to be quickly exposed? Is it because they genuinely can't help themselves or that they've got so used to repeatedly bending reality that they come to believe it themselves? I ask only because a repeated serial offender has been caught once again lying through her teeth:

Today I have received a letter from John Lyon CB - the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards - in response to a complaint made about my blog by a Liberal Democrat (sic).


For the record, John Lyon's letter to the complainant states the following:

"The position is that no Parliamentary resources have been used to fund Mrs Dorries' weblog. Questions about whether its content is consistent with the rules in relation to Parliamentary funding do not therefore arise."

He goes on to state, "No further action on any point is required, and therefore consider your complaint now closed."

Yes, we're referring to the glamorous and flagrant Ms Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for mid-Bedfordshire, and the complaint made against her by Sunny Hundal regarding her blog being funded out of the incidental expenses allowance (since changed to the communications allowance), which expressly forbids such funds to be used for party political activities or campaigning. Sunny was good enough at the time to put up for all to see the complaint and the evidence which quite clearly showed that Dorries was apparently abusing the allowance, especially regarding her vindictive attacks on female Labour MPs in marginal seats who had a record of voting not to lower the time-limit on those seeking an abortion.

It was therefore a surprise to learn that John Lyon had dismissed the complaint so apparently out of hand when the evidence was so transparently damning of Dorries' conduct. Despite not claiming to know who Sunny was, and also erroneously describing him as a Liberal Democrat, Unity noted that Dorries or her web-hosts had subtly altered the site after the complaint had been submitted, removing the text which suggested that the site was funded out of the inicidental provisions allowance, and ostensibly moving the blog away from Dorries' constituency website, although it was quite obvious that both still used the same address. At the time Unity wondered whether she was going to plead ignorance and apologise, but by the account give by Dorries herself this apparently wasn't necessary, as John Lyon had cleared her entirely.

Except that wasn't the case at all. Sunny, having been busy with both preparing for a well-earned holiday and also attending the Labour party conference, hadn't had time to post himself on the response of Lyon to him regarding the complaint. He now has:

A few months ago I submitted a complaint, with the help of some Liberal Conspirators to the Parliamentary Standards Commission against Nadine Dorries MP. In short, it was regarding her blog. Last weekend I had a response.

The most relevant parts of the letter stated:

The rules of the house, however, do require Members to make a clear distinction between websites which are financed from public funds and any other domain. At the time of your complaint, Mrs Dorries’ website did not meet that requirement. Nor was it appropriate that she use the Portcullis emblem on the weblog given its contents. And the funding attribution on Mrs Dorries’ Home Page should have been updated to reflect that the funding came from the Communications Allowance and not from the Incidental Expenses Provision.

To these three technical aspects, our complaint was upheld. But, the Commissioner adds:

I am, however, satisfied that Mrs Dorries has take effective action to rectify the situation, for which she has apologised…. She has expressed her regret for the confusion caused.

In other words then, the complaint to all intents and purposes was upheld, and not only that, Dorries had apologised for the confusion caused. Presumably because Dorries provided evidence that showed that the blog had not been funded out of the incidental expenses provision after all, as the site claimed, Lyon decided to accept her apology and take the matter no further.

All of this though is rather different to the complete bill of health which Dorries gave her own readers the impression she had been given. She failed to inform them she had apologised or that she been upbraided on 3 separate counts, even if the complaint was not subsequently upheld. Iain Dale, the inventor of blogging, therefore took this up on his own site:

I have waited a few days to see if he might do us the honour of posting about it on Liberal Conspiracy, and maybe apologising to Nadine for the smear. But not a bit of it. He's remained silent on the matter.

There is no apologising to be done because the complaint itself was, as Lyon in his letter to Sunny makes clear, fully justified on almost all counts. Iain though seems to have been mislead by Dorries herself by yet again not revealing the full facts of the matter, and trying to make out that she has been the innocent party through blatant omission of them. Dorries ends her post with the following:

I think this has been a most revealing episode as to his type of politics - it's certainly not mine.

Dorries is of course quite right. Sunny and Liberal Conspiracy made a completely legitimate complaint about a member of parliament apparently abusing their allowance, one which the parliamentary standards commissioner agreed was wholly justified in bringing, and which was upheld on 3 counts, with Dorries herself apologising. Ms Dorries on the other hand has yet again lied to the very people that she is meant to be serving -- her constituents -- through omitting those facts and only revealing the parts of the letter which apparently exonerated her. It shows her up to be fundamentally dishonest, which has been the most overwhelming feature of her politics up till now. I think it's well worth repeating again the final paragraph of a previous post of mine:

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.

How many more examples of exactly the above does the Conservative party need before it takes action against Dorries for her behaviour? Perhaps that's one that Iain Dale could answer for us.

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Friday, July 18, 2008 

Investigative blogging, the Tories and watching the ministerial written statements.

A whole load of investigative blogging has been going on of late, especially over at the Ministry. Unity first uncovered that one of the individuals who officiated on the employment tribunal in the case of Ladele vs Islington shares a name with a person who was previously the chairman of governors at an independent Catholic girls' school, quite obviously a potential conflict of interest when ruling on matters of discrimination involving a registrar refusing to officiate on civil partnerships.

Next, in response to the Charity Commission report on the Smith Institute, which although critical did not find the smoking gun that Guido amongst others hoped it would over its connections to Gordon Brown, Unity raises the question of Policy Exchange and its extreme closeness to Cameron and co, which bears much of a resemblance to that which the Smith Institute has been criticised over. While trying to gain full advantage from the report, Guido happens to link to the Centre for Open Politics, which models itself on the American Sunlight Foundation. Their gambit is:

Our work is inspired by and based on the work of the Sunlight Foundation in Washington D.C. We are committed to helping voters, bloggers and journalists be their own watchdogs, by improving access to existing information and digitising new information, and by creating new tools and websites to enable all of us to collaborate in fostering greater transparency.

Underlying all of Sunlight’s efforts is a fundamental belief that increased transparency will improve the conduct of politics itself and the public’s confidence in the political process.

All well and good, you might think; more transparency in politics is exactly what we need. You would expect however that those who have set-up this Centre for Open Politics would be, well open about their politics and transparent in their reasons for setting it up. The slightest Googling by Unity, and amazing as it may seem, it turns out that COP's founders, Harry Cole and Amanda O'Brien are respectively formerly Vice Chairman/Treasurer of the Edinburgh University Conservative Association, as well as running some of the recruitment drive for the youth Tory organisation Conservative Future, while O'Brien is likely to be the same Amanda O'Brien who's currently the deputy chairman of Essex Conservative Future. What's more, the domain name for COP's is registered at the self-same building out of which MessageSpace operates, which just so also happens to be associated with Guido.

Elsewhere meanwhile Cameron's decision to publish the expenses of the vast majority of his MPs might well backfire after it was noted that 78 of them are using their allowances to pay for the party's "Parliamentary Resources Unit", the Labour equivalent of which MPs have to pay for out of their own pockets. The Tories are on the defensive and confident they'll be found not to be breaching any rules, but John Mann has asked the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards to investigate.

Even more interesting for those of us keeping an eye on the habitual liar and fantasist which is Nadine Dorries is that her expenses show that she spent £2,938 on the services of Media Intelligence Partners. As Tim on Bloggerheads notes, the services provided by MIP are Media strategy', 'Media relations', 'Crisis management', 'Media Training', 'Public relations and political consultancy', 'Identity management' and 'Analysis and research'. According to the Green Book rules on what can and cannot be charged to the taxpayer, expenditure under the Incidental Expenses Provision is not permitted for "Advice for individual Members on self promotion, or PR for individuals or political parties." Dorries used taxpayer cash on MIP during her campaign for the abortion limit to be cut to 20 weeks. Could it be that she's been caught bang to rights yet again misusing her expenses, after previously using Commons notepaper inappropriately and funding her website also from the IEP?

Finally, Matt Wardman brings our attention to the government's usual habit of flooding out written ministerial statements just before parliament goes into recess and the silly season begins in earnest. Well worth watching.

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Monday, June 09, 2008 

The Dorries deficit.

Today has not been a good day to be Nadine Dorries. As Unity and Lib Con both report, Dorries has been asked to explain her use of the incidental expenses provision to fund her blog, something which the rules state it is not to be used for online campaigns against political opponents, something that Dorries has most certainly breached. The parliamentary standards commission can be relaxed about such breaches on occasion, but whether it will considering the current high level of scrutiny of politicians' use of expenses, and Dorries previously being reprimanded for inappropriate use of Commons' stationery is an open question.

Meanwhile, over on said blog, Ms Dorries has been ranting and welcoming her newest employee:

It has not been a nice weekend.

The frenzied attack against Conservative MPs and MEPs, orchestrated by and emanating from the left wing BBC and press has equalled that of an animal in its death throes. The more terminal the position looks for Labour, the more desperate the BBC and the left wing press become.

Ah yes, the old conspiracy theory. The Bolshevik Broadcasting Corporation is out to get the Tories! That other often indicted left-wing instrument, the Guardian, has been pushing the Spelman expenses story to such an extent that it put it back on page 13 this morning, with a notably sympathetic report suggesting that Spelman's employment of a nanny had its roots in the local constituency parties' sexism.

Still, what's this?

My daughter Jenny, who is 20, begins work for me this week for six weeks as a paid intern.

She told me I shouldn’t put what she earns on the blog as it is against her human rights. I told her that as an MP's daughter, she doesn’t have any. She is being paid £7.50 per hour.

Just then as it becomes a bit of a no-no for politicians to employ members of their family to do work for them courtesy of the public purse, Dorries has decided to go against the grain. You have to admire that kind of opposition to the current orthodoxy; where would we be if a few MPs weren't such mavericks?

Guido however, that noted slayer of right-wingers (is this right? Ed.) decided to take up Dorries' offer of enquiring whether Jenny actually was working from her staff office. She happened to be out when he called, but he had his call swiftly returned by none other than Dorries herself, who was not impressed by someone actually doing what she invited them to.

There is of course another dimension to this, one slightly forgotten in the fallout surrounding the abortion vote. Last year Alex Hilton (aka one of the writers on Recess Monkey) featured one of the Dorries's daughter's Facebook pages, complete with apparent racism. Dorries was so angered by this slur on her daughter's character that she threatened to involve Schillings, noted tenacious legal rottweilers for Alisher Usmanov. Her outbreak of outrage was slightly tempered by the fact that she had previously splashed photographs of her offspring all across her blog; now she's directly employing one of those that she pledged to protect and called to be kept out of it. First implication of this? Being subjected to the usual amount of lewd comments on Guido's blog. Is there no beginning to Dorries' brilliant deflecting of criticism?

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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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Thursday, March 20, 2008 

When is an urban myth not a urban myth? When it's propogated by "pro-abortionists".

Do the people of mid-Bedfordshire really know just what sort of moron is representing them in parliament? Nadine Dorries, who has repeatedly been brought to book for her use of partial and questionable sources, has just suddenly discovered an urban myth that has been kicking around since 2000, and posted the following on her blog yesterday:

This picture show a pregnant uterus laying on the exterior of the mother's abdomen, having been lifted out of her abdominal cavity, via a c-section incision made in the abdominal wall.

Dr Joseph Bruner performed this procedure in order to operate on the baby whilst still in utero before it was born. The baby had spina bifida and would not have survived if removed from his mother's womb.

When the operation was over, baby Samuel, at 21 weeks gestation, put his hand through the incision in the uterus and grabbed hold of the surgeon’s finger, a gesture which was apparently met with a huge amount of emotion in the operating theatre.

Dr Bruner said that it was the most emotional moment of his life and that for a moment he was just frozen, totally immobile.

In the UK we are aborting babies just like this and older every single day.

There are union funded organisations such as ‘Voice for Choice’ that campaign and fight to maintain the right to abort babies like Samuel.

There are organisations such as the BMA who vote and endorse the right to continue to do this.

There are organisations which are paid for by the government, such as BPAS, who argue the right to keep aborting babies Samuel's age and older.

Little Samuel made his case from within the womb in a way which none of the shrill late abortionists will ever manage.

There are two ways to live your life.

One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle. (Albert Einstein)

Enter Ben Goldacre, the Guardian's Bad Science columnist, who Dorries previously accused of a "serious breach of parliamentary procedure," a crime committed when he downloaded the evidence given to the parliamentary committee, from err, its website. Dorries has never apologised for the slur on Goldacre, as you would expect from the finest of the Tories' bloggers. Goldacre quickly ascertained that the story was a myth propagated by anti-abortionists, with the surgeon himself stating in two newspaper articles that it was him lifting the baby's arm out of the uterus, not the baby reaching out to hold him.

Anyone with even the slightest decency about them would then admit that they'd got it horribly wrong and apologise. Not Dorries, who seems to know better than the surgeon himself what had happened:

I’ve had an amazing response to the ‘Hand of Hope’ blog posted yesterday.

Of course, the pro-abortionist lobby have attempted to rubbish it and say it is a hoax, which it most definitely is not. Some of the pro-abortionists, who know that they can’t get away with calling it a hoax, are saying that the surgeon was operating on the hand, which didn’t reach out; and, that in fact the baby was anesthetised so reaching out would not have been possible.

Two points from me: first is that if the experienced paediatrician operating on the 21 week old baby had anesthetised, then that fact endorses the Professor Anand position that a foetus can feel pain; otherwise why would this doctor, who operates on unborn babies all the time, bother?

Dorries is obviously too idiotic to not see past the obvious fact. The surgeon had not anaesthetised the baby; he had anaesthetised the mother, who, believe it or not, is connected to the baby, who therefore also was anaesthetised. Dorries has two children, incidentally.

My second point is look at the tear in the uterus. See how jiggered it is just above the hand; and yet the rest of the surgically incised openings are controlled and neat.

This is, in all likelihood, because the hand unexpectedly thrust out. It would be a poor surgeon who allowed the uterine tear to be so messy, and this is no ‘poor’ surgeon.

Over then again to Ben, who unlike Dorries just happens to be a doctor and also know what he's talking about:

My recollection, from assisting in many Caesarean deliveries in my earlier years, is that instead of making a big clean cut into the uterus (not a good idea for obvious reasons ie there’s a baby in there) you make repeated shallow superficial incisions into the uterus, between which you spread the tissues by hand with your fingers, until it eventually (and satisfyingly, surgery’s great fun) opens up.

She’s also very keen on the photographer’s account. Which I linked to above. As I said, it’s up to you whether you prefer the account of the photographer, or the surgon who does these operations for a living, and may know rather more about the subject.

Dorries' entry is hilariously called the "hand of truth". Dorries, rather than being able to back up her arguments with anything even approaching knowledge or evidence instead refers to everyone who pointed out that it's a well-known and old-hat myth by calling them "pro-abortionists", the typical disparaging remark towards those who defend a woman's right to chose. Dorries also claims to be pro-choice, but uses the language and tactics of the anti-abortion movement as part of her campaign to lower the limit on abortions from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. Even more bizarrely, she states that the surgeon might have said what he did because the "pro-choice and pro-life lobbies in America are far more vociferous, and unfortunately violent, than they are in the UK". As Unity points out, there's only one side in the US which has turned violent, and that's the "pro-life" side, as Wikipedia attests.

Instead of being laughed at or told she's got it wrong by other Tory bloggers, Iain Dale in his round-up gives the impression that actually Ben has got it wrong. There are comments pointing this out, as well as Dorries' update, but no comment from Iain or a correction. Going by the past, it's not likely either will happen. The good burghers of mid-Bedfordshire though can vote out their collective embarrassment at the next election.

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