On Thursday, the Independent‘s “Pandora” diarist observed
Disappointment for those seeking a drop of Nadine Dorries’, um, wisdom yesterday. The Tory MP’s usually entertaining blog was oddly unavailable. Her Twitter account appeared to have vanished, too. She wasn’t so shy the day before, penning both an irate comment piece in the Daily Mail, and a heartfelt email to colleagues, arguing against the Speaker John Bercow’s reinstatement. Why the sudden silence?
Why indeed? Dorries herself has now stepped forward with a supposed answer, in an interview for Bedfordshire on Sunday; take a deep breath and prepare to have your intelligence insulted:
MP Nadine Dorries has taken her blog down and closed her Twitter account claiming she has been advised to do so by the police.
Ms Dorries… says she has been having “problems” with political blogger Tim Ireland.
Ms Dorries said: “Tim Ireland is not a Mid Bedfordshire resident and I am not answerable or accountable to him.
“I have been in consultation regarding his behaviour with the Westminster division of the Metropolitan Police, and the House of Commons police, for more than a year.
“Their advice was to close down my blog and Twitter account and thereby remove the ‘oxygen’ upon which he fed. As an election was imminent, I ignored this advice.
“I have decided that I should pay attention to the police advice and have therefore closed down both Twitter and my blog for the time being.”
This is a shameful spectacle many levels. Dorries has a national media profile. She uses the internet to address a national audience, she appears on TV reality shows, and she just last week she made a futile attempt to bring down the Speaker of the House of Commons. But when criticism comes from outside her constituency, suddenly she’s a local MP for local people only.
But more serious than her claim that she is not accountable to the public at large is the vicious aspersion cast on Tim, which even the newspaper balked at publishing in full. Tim has posted the unexpurgated version, which the paper passed to him for his response:
“Following the Stephen Timms incident last week I have decided that I should pay attention to the police advice…”
As has been widely reported, Timms was hospitalized recently after being stabbed by a mentally-ill woman.
First, this shows a public servant up as a liar. Tim satirises Dorries quite mercilessly, and Dorries has made it clear that she has found some of his jibes to be offensive. But that’s life if you’re a public figure. Dorries knows damn well that she is not under any kind of personal threat from Tim. Why didn’t she give the newspaper an example of one of his threats, if she had anything? And – more to the point – why hasn’t the police had any contact with Tim? An MP claims that she has been forced off-line by threats, yet the police can’t be bothered to have a word with the supposed culprit? And the MP just accepts that without any bitter complaint about the unfairness of it all? Come off it. She’s lying, and shamelessly. Lying to the voters, and – if she’s sincere in her supposed religious faith – before God.
Second, Tim has himself been targeted with actual threats, by a gang of cyberstalkers who have used her complaints against him as a vigilante excuse for their campaign of harassment. Dorries knows this, and so one can only imagine the depths of the calculated and immature spite exposed by the outburst quoted above.
Tim has more on his blog here.
Of course, a number of other people besides the cyberstalkers will be pleased to see Tim attacked by an MP in this way; Tim presses his point quite assertively when he’s calling someone to account, and certain political opponents have decided that the best counter-attack is to sneer that his persistence must be a sign of mental illness and should be disregarded or mocked. If Tim has to spend time rebutting inflammatory allegations or dealing with thugs, then he has less time to investigate other matters. But on the other hand, Dorries’ attack is so excessive that perhaps some of those who might like to jump on the bandwagon might do well to give thought to where it might be heading.
Just a few days ago the Telegraph reported that Tim had salvaged some Tweets by a Conservative MP who no longer wanted his attacks on Nick Clegg remain available, and last year he forced Patrick Mercer MP to disassociate himself from a self-styled “anti-terror” expert who had been been feeding him dubious information.
UPDATE: Chris Paul points out that Dorries announced her intention to deactivate Twitter on 7 May. Timms was stabbed on 14 May.
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