Woman Accused of Faking Disability by Nadine Dorries Has Painful Foot Operation

Back in October, I blogged on Nadine Dorries MP’s attack on MsHumprheycushion, a critically-minded constituent who has used a blog and Twitter to register her discontent. Ms Cushion was off work on sick leave, awaiting operations on her feet for arthritis so that she can get back to her job as a carer. Dorries – helped by party-hack blogger Paul Staines (and perhaps Tory Bear) – decided to smear Ms Cushion as a “benefits cheat” who was pretending to be disabled in order to get welfare payments she should not be entitled to receive.

Ms Cushion explained the true situation on Twitter and in a local newspaper, although Dorries was having none of it:

She has twittered that her disability is due to the Coalition Government cancelling operations she is waiting for on both of her feet.

Really? An operation on both feet for arthritis? Let’s put aside that surgeons never operate on both feet at the same time. This is a medical breakthrough. Hips and knees, yes, now feet! Amazing.  Twitter followers conned again.

……Sue Cullen is also absolutely not disabled, although she clearly gives that impression on her twitter account. Indeed, half of twitter was conned into thinking she was a poor disabled wretch, not the local Labour party organiser, under attack from a bad Tory MP. Not the case. Ms Cullen attended my local hustings. She stormed around the hall after me, shouted a great deal and even followed me outside, pacing up and down whilst I chatted to constituents.

Dorries’ post was called “She Writes Fiction”, which was ironic given that just a couple of weeks later Dorries admitted that up to 70 per cent of her own blog is “fiction”: Dorries had tried to explain away an expenses discrepancy by telling Parliamentary investigators that she liked to give the impression of being in her constituency when in fact she was elsewhere in order to “reassure” her constituents. When that failed to impress, she reverted to type and claimed “stalkers” were to blame for her need to lie to her readers.

I dealt with Dorries’ accusations in depth at the time, but I’m glad now to be able to report that Ms Cushion is on the mend following the first of her two operations. It sounds like it was a bit of an ordeal, though:

I don’t know what I had expected, as I said, I hadn’t given it much thought at all but AGHHHHHHHHHHH blimey the pain!  I think in all I had 15 injections in my ankle before it finally went numb enough for surgery.  I am good with pain though and tolerate it well so concentrated on my breathing like a good girl and imagined the tweets I would be sending had I been allowed my phone with me.  The woman in the next bed to me wasn’t nearly as brave as Humph though, screaming and flailing about like a man big sissy.

…Then I could hear bone breaking and realised it was mine. The sound of a drill vibrating on bone, mine.  The only way I could cope was by mentally picturing the faces of my loved ones and trying to remember the lyrics of a beautiful song I saw tweeted a couple of weeks ago.

Her posts on the subject also include photos, lest Dorries continue to insist that she’s making it up.

Nadine Dorries is a scoundrel and is not fit to hold office.

Stephen Green Accused of Violence by Ex-Wife

The Daily Mail has a long interview with Caroline Green, ex-wife of Stephen Green of Christian Voice, who has accused him of abusive and controlling behaviour:

Caroline Green was often punished by her husband Stephen for failing to be a dutiful, compliant wife, but his final act of violence against her — the one that prompted her long-overdue decision to divorce him — was all the more chilling because it was coldly premeditated.

Stephen Green wrote a list of his wife’s ­failings then described the weapon he would make to beat her with.

‘He told me he’d make a piece of wood into a sort of witch’s broom and hit me with it, which he did,’ she recalls, her voice tentative and quiet. ‘He hit me until I bled. I was terrified. I can still remember the pain…’

According to her account, when she married Green he was “not remotely religious”. However:

Their wedding provided his first entrée into the religious world that now immerses him. He joined the choir, then the Parochial Church Council, then began to get involved with political groups. He became a vociferous member of the anti-abortion campaign Society For The ­Protection Of The Unborn Child, and joined the Conservative Family Campaign.

…But Green’s views were already becoming extreme. In 1992 he wrote a virulently anti-gay book, The ­Sexual Dead End, which Caroline says marked ‘the beginning of the end’. Two years later, he abandoned the Conservative Family Campaign, which he regarded as too moderate, and set up Christian Voice in order to pursue a more radical course.

Then, in 1997, when their children were 16, 14, 12 and ten, the family moved from the Home Counties to a remote small-holding in ­Carmarthenshire, west Wales.

Green’s activism has featured on this blog a number of times (for example, here and here). Details about The Sexual Dead End are scarce, although according to the British Library catalogue entry it runs to 482 pages plus 12 pages of photos. Somewhat inappropriately, the publisher was a company called Broadview: Amazon identifies this as the Broadview Press in Canada, which seems somewhat unlikely (alternative sources give a PO Box in London). According to Third Way, “it contains a good deal of information, some useful, some appalling. Best handled like blood from a Hapatitis B patient”, although Radical and Right was more enthusiastic:

The Sexual Dead-End’ is essential reading for every conservative and Nationalist as well as every Christian and every parent of young children… Green makes the case that there is no demarcation line between male homosexual activity amongst adults and the pursuit of ever-younger boys. Not all homosexuals seek sexual relationships with pre-teen boys, not all homosexuals are insatiably promiscuous and not all are driven to extremes of sado-masochistic rituals, but those that are not are on the fringes of the movement. The activists demand no limits on their appetites and their appetites are unlimited…

In 2009, Green called for gay people and adulterers to be executed, and commended efforts in this direction being made in Uganda.

Caroline gives an account of Green’s increasing extremism:

Caroline describes his state of mind at this stage as ‘hyper-manic’. She says: For years he’d been ­controlling, spiteful and self-righteous. But later he became delusional and completely uncontrollable.

This fits with Green’s character as observed on television. In 2008 I wrote a blog entry about a documentary in which he featured; I noted that

He comes across as rather unbalanced: one minute he is chatting and joking with the documentary-maker, the next moment he becomes aggressive, forcing away the camera and complaining about “persecution”. In one particularly bathetic moment in Brighton, just as he offers up a prayer a seagull leaves a prominent dropping on the front of his shirt; Green is not amused, and he demands that the documentary-maker not make fun of him – perhaps the fact that certain internet scoffers insist on nicknaming him “Stephen ‘Dog Shit’ Green” after he compared Jerry Springer to treading in dog excrement meant that this touched a raw nerve.

According to the Mail, “When invited to respond to his ex-wife’s allegations, Stephen Green made no comment.”

(H/T Harry’s Place)

UPDATE: John Walker’s Electronic House has an overview of Green’s close relationship with the Mail over the past two years:

The paper has been seeking comment from Green on every matter they can think of ever since his prominence in 2005. But today it’s all entirely forgotten.

Meanwhile, David T has an interesting account in the Harry’s Place comments of a meeting with Green:

Years ago – in the late 80s in fact – I organised a debate at which Stephen Green was one of the speakers. I have a feeling that the other was Peter Tatchell, although I can’t be entirely sure!

Stephen Green struck me as a very strange man, lacking in ordinary social abilities. I did not warm to him on a personal level. This wasn’t to do with his politics – you quite often meet people whose politics you disagree with strongly who you oppose on a range of fundamental issues, but who are still absolutely delightful on a personal level…

Christians need not feel defensive in any way about Stephen Green. As with so many of these types, his religious and political conduct appears to be an expression of some very personal failings.

UPDATE 2: Green has responded with denials and an allegation of his own:

I never once had sexual relations with my former wife against her clearly expressed wish.  Secondly, in connection with the published allegations that I assaulted her, the truth, sadly, is the complete opposite.  I had to obtain a harassment order against her to stop a campaign of intimidation and on one of the occasions when she assaulted me, I reported the matter to the police and she received a police caution.

Christian Right Figures Back John Stemberger in Legal Dispute

A rare public statement from Rifqa Bary, who has been off the public radar for a while:

Would you please help my friend and lawyer John Stemberger? He defended me at no cost and helped me gained my freedom and is now being attacked by the Muslims lawyer who opposed me in court. Thank yo ufor supporting me. Will you now also help and support John?

Bary’s plea headlines the website of The Stemberger Legal Defense Fund, which explains its purpose in a blurb:

After Rifqa Bary’s legal team won her case and secured her freedom, Omar Tarazi, the lawyer who opposed Rifqa Bary and represented her parents in the Ohio case, retaliated against John Stemberger, who was Rifqa’s lawyer, by filing two separate actions against him. One was a federal defamation lawsuit for 10 million dollars in federal court.  The other was a complaint or a grievance with the Florida Bar asking for Stemberger to be disciplined.  Tarzi, who lost his client’s case and is disgruntled, is now using this frivolous lawsuit and merit-less charges as a means of “lawfare” to punish John.

This slightly glosses over the fact that the Florida Bar has already come to a conclusion about Stemberger; as the Orlando Sentinel reported in September:

The Bar on Thursday officially notified his attorney that, following an investigation, a grievance committee has concluded that Stemberger is guilty of professional misconduct and should be prosecuted at a trial-like proceeding that could lead to sanctions.

The Bar filed a complaint with the Florida Supreme Court on 4 January.

The Columbus Dispatch quoted Tarazi in September:

His complaint states that Stemberger falsely said that Tarazi was being paid by an organization with ties to terrorists and that, essentially, Tarazi was not a qualified attorney.

“Potential clients that do a simple web search to check on plaintiff’s credentials will find these accusations of perjury, conflict of interest, being unqualified as an attorney,” as well as claims that Tarazi was a member of Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, the suit says.

“I’m saying I’m not going to take this,” Tarazi said today. “It affects my job, my career, it affects everything. It’s pushback to say that you can’t just call someone a terrorist with no basis and get away with it.”

The Stemberger website has quotes from various well-know Christian Right figures, including William Boykin (“the Islamic elements in America want to destroy him. Keep fighting, John”), David Barton (“The Founding Fathers created the First Amendment to protect exactly the type of political and religious speech involved in this case”), Tony Perkins (who blames “political correctness”), and Lou Engle (“I was thrilled to see John Stemberger’s courageous defense of Rifqa Bary, our precious sister” – background here). There’s also local support from Tom Trento of the Florida Security Council (“this insidious ‘lawfare’ attack from those who failed in their attack against Rifqa”) and from Pastors Blake and Beverly Lorenz, who took Bary in when she arrived in Florida. According to them:

John Stemberger played the role of a modern day hero in defending Rifqa Bary against Muslim enforced Sharia Law. He in fact, played a major part in saving this young girl’s life and helping to obtain her freedom in this country.

Also on the list is Newt Gingrich, whose shamelessly opportunistic identification with the Christian Right is one of the more laughable sights in American politics. This would the same Newt Gingrinch, by the way, who in 2008 said that Saturday Night Live should be sued for making fun of Sarah Palin.

However, one name is conspicuously absent: Pamela Geller, who is also being sued by Tarazi. Geller and Stemberger fell out a while ago, and she has denounced him as a “svengali lawyer” and as a “clown”. Geller’s take was supported by Jamal Jivanjee, a pastor who was in contact with Bary in Ohio. It will surely be galling for Geller to see such generous praise being heaped on Stemberger from these quarters: Boykin recently spoke alongside her close associate Robert Spencer at an event organised by Walid Shoebat’s handlers, and she and Spencer recently joined Gingrich at a David Horowitz Freedom Center event where she received an award. In the case of the Lorenzes, a year ago Geller wrote a typically vitriolic post defending them from censure by their church board, whom she heaped with her usual abuses and wild accusations.

As for her own defence against Tarazi, she has retained the services of David Yerushalmi (whom I blogged on here) and Robert Muise. The legal argument is long and inevitably difficult to penetrate, but the thrust of it is that she simply repeated things in good faith which Stemberger had assured her had been true:

Plaintiff informs us (under oath) that Defendant Geller’s statement that “it is being reported that Omar Tarazi perjured himself” is true because Plaintiff identifies the source of this statement as Defendant Stemberger, a Florida attorney, officer of the court, and a member of Rifqa’s legal team in the Florida litigation over jurisdiction. Moreover, Plaintiff alleges further that the Web site that actually started the “[I]nternet claim” was “the Jawa Blog.”

In an apparent attempt, however, to establish “fault,” whether negligence or actual malice is not clear from the pleading, Plaintiff effectively implies in this that Defendant Geller had the affirmative duty to fly from New York City to Columbus, Ohio in order to inspect the juvenile court documents before reporting on what an attorney who had been directly involved in the case (and who was still publicly identified as an advisor to Rifqa) was saying publicly through Web sites about the ongoing Rifqa Bary legal battle…

Geller is not adverse to making legal threats of her own – back in June she threatened to sue the Washington Post for calling her “anti-Muslim”.

GOD TV Waves Lawyers at Oregon Website

Salem News is an on-line alternative news site based in Oregon. Recently, it received an unwelcome letter from London:

Salem-News.com is in a legal battle with ‘God TV’ in the UK because we published video from their TV show…

…Their beef is that we are allegedly guilty of a UK copyright infringement. Why? Because we carried a video clip of their own TV show that is publicly posted on Vimeo with an embed code denoting it is totally available to use. We used it within a news story as reference, something done as a benefit to the reader. As of now, the video has been removed from the story, though it continues to be available online irregardless of Salem-News.com.

News organizations are protected from this kind of onslaught in the United States (see Fair Use), but across the pond things are done a little differently and this particular group is taking advantage of that, ceasing the opportunity.

…For now we have to defend ourselves; not only are they trying to disrupt our relationship with our server group, they are also in contact with our domain server.

The clip referred to the story which I blogged on just yesterday: as an expression of its Christian Zionist beliefs, GOD TV is funding the creation of a forest near Beersheva on the site of a Bedouin village which the authorities deem to be illegal. The clip was incorporated into a critical video, entitled “The Jewish National Fund and God TV’s Forest of Hate”. This video has been embedded on a number of websites over the past month, and Salem News was not responsible either for its creation or for the article that accompanied it.

GOD TV’s letter, via its media lawyers Davenport Lyons, also objects to the publication of a screenshot and of a partial transcript (which comes to around 800 words).

It is difficult to avoid the impression that the claim of “copyright infringement”, which may be trivially true under UK law, is being pursued because GOD TV wishes to discourage critical discussion.

(Incidentally, Salem News insists on putting the cart before the horse by calling GOD TV “Israeli backed”.)

GOD TV and the Bedouin Village

Over the past fifteen years, the satellite channel GOD TV has emerged as one of the most significant players in global charismatic Christianity. It began in the UK, bringing the likes of Fred Price and Creflo Dollar (whom I blogged on here) to British audiences, but its reach is now international and its founders – Rory and Wendy Alec – enjoy support that ranges from Benny Hinn, Rick Joyner (blogged here), and Cindy Jacobs (blogged here) in the USA through to RT Kendall, Colin Dye (blogged here), and Matthew Ashimolowo in the UK, Ulf Ekman in Sweden (blogged here), and Paul Dhinakharan in India (blogged here).

Although the Alecs were brought up in the Rhema movement in South Africa, which emphasises the Prosperity Gospel, their channel showcases a wider range of Charismatic beliefs. In particular, there is an apocalyptic drama penned by Wendy Alec entitled Chronicles of Brothers, which promotes “New World Order” conspiracy theories, and an emphasis on Christian dominion of society – Wendy Alec’s book Against All Odds includes a prophecy about the rise of a Christian ruler of Britain who will rule “with a rod of iron”, and that, following a “wave of prayer” on the east coast of the USA, there will be a joining of “the lion and the eagle”.

Rachel Tabachnick has some further background at Talk to Action (links added):

God TV is incorporated as a nonprofit in the U.S. under the name Angel Christian Television Trust, and has regional offices in the U.S. including a base in Grandview, Missouri, near  Mike Bickle‘s International House of Prayer (IHOP) headquarters (outside Kansas City, MO). The Alecs bought a historic estate in that area in 2009.

Directors of God TV’s U.S. entity include (according to their latest 990 tax form) Francis Frangipane, also an international leader and major thinker in the New Apostolic movement.  Frangipane teaches that believers can be perfected and take “dominion” over the earth through “spiritual warfare.”  (Ed Kalnins of Wasilla Assembly of God describes Frangipane as his “spiritual father,”  in New Apostolic lingo usually meaning that Frangipane is his apostolic authority.)

Several programmes broadcast by GOD TV have been noted by Right Wing Watch.

GOD TV’s HQ is Jerusalem; as a blurb explains:

As the only TV network to broadcast globally from Jerusalem, GOD TV recognizes the modern State of Israel as a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and supports the Jewish people through projects such as its ‘One Million+ Trees for Israel’ campaign.

In particular, GOD TV gives a platform for John Hagee, whose apocalyptic Christian Zionism drips with conspiracy theories about the “Illuminati” and such, and whose theology infamously includes the notion that Hitler was a “hunter” sent by God to persuade the Jews to move to Israel.

GOD TV’s association with the “One Million Trees” campaign has of late become a source of controversy; Rabbis for Human Rights-North America and the Jewish Alliance for Change explain that:

At the beginning of the 1950’s, Israel evacuated by force the Bedouin living in el Arakib, north of Beer Sheba. The evacuees were told that their lands were needed for military exercises, and promised that within six months they would be allowed to return to their village. This promise that was not kept. Instead, by means of the Land Purchase Legislation of 1953, various government agencies used the forced absence of the Bedouin from the area to transfer ownership of their lands to the State.

…The Israel Land Administration (ILA) transferred by lease the lands of el-Arakib to the Jewish National Fund (JNF) for the purpose of forestation. Following approval authorized by the ILA, the JNF began land works of unprecedented proportions on the lands of el-Arakib resulting in massive changes in the region’s topography and the forestation of these lands. The JNF last week established a large new bulldozer camp just one kilometer from El-Arakib, and is now planting one million trees in Israel, including many near the village of Al-Arakib, as part of the “God-TV Forest.” JNF has accepted substantial donations from an evangelical Christian ministry called God-TV, who claim to have received “instructions from God…to prepare the land for the return of my Son…[to] plant a million trees.”

Nuri al-Okbi, the head of the Association for Protection of the Rights of Bedouins, is currently in prison for running a garage without a license – Judge Zachariya Yemini is quoted as having handed down a custodial sentence because “treating the defendant leniently would constitute a negative message to the public, and especially to the Bedouins”.

Max Blumenthal recently visited GOD TV’s studio  in Jerusalem and had a chat with one of the workers there, a man from the Netherlands named Klaas:

He told me that while they are planting a million trees to beautify the land for the Second Coming of Christ, he knew nothing about Al-Arakib. “The JNF hasn’t told us anything about that and we certainly wouldn’t be a part of anything that would do what you described,” he said. Then he demanded I support my claims with evidence.

Klaas allowed me to go online on one of GOD TV’s computers to show him my video of the demolition of Al-Arakib. Unfortunately, Google and YouTube were blocked by a search filter on all of the network’s computers…

As I was leaving, Klaas suddenly grew argumentative. “An Israeli friend who lives in the Negev told me the Bedouins have to be removed because they steal everything,” he said. “That’s their way of life — theft.”

I asked if he ever spoken to a Bedouin or gone to the Negev to see the situation for himself. He said he hadn’t… “I noticed in Holland a lot of people said they were Christian but they didn’t even go to church, so I realized that they were not really Christians. I mean, what kind of Christians are these Palestinians?” Klaas said. He seemed to be suggesting that anyone who was not born-again was not an authentic Christian.

According to the GOD TV website, “For every $25/£15/€20 you donate, GOD TV will plant one tree in either your name or in the name(s) of your loved one(s).”

Name variation: al-‘Araqib

Nadine Dorries Made Complaint to Police because Critical Blogger Appeared at Public Debate

A week ago I blogged on the results of Tim Ireland’s Freedom of Information requests to Bedfordshire Police and the London Met. As Tim explained:

…I made FOI/DPA request to both forces so I might see what they had on file about me. Last year, I blogged about the response from the London Met, who showed NO record of ANY complaint/report against me.

The result from Bedfordshire police is in… and they too show NO record of ANY complaint/report against me.

As has been previously blogged, the MP Nadine Dorries had claimed that she had made complaints about Tim to the police, although she declined to go provide reference numbers or other specific details. The background is that Dorries objects to Tim’s critical blogposts about about her public activities, and she has made the allegation that Tim is a “stalker” in an attempt to deflect scrutiny. Despite the fact that Tim has never impinged upon Dorries’ private life any way that could be described as stalking, the allegation has proved a useful taunt for some other opponents, ranging from certain Conservative-aligned bloggers through to unhinged cyber-bullies who get off on real harassment (one of whom Dorries has endorsed on her blog and apparently attempted to contact).

Tim made an update a couple of days after his original post:

It turns out there is, at present, a police investigation. Police had not contacted me about it until yesterday (19 Jan 2011). It relates specifically to the hustings event at Flitwick. There is no crime reference number for this as yet, because there is no crime. I was perfectly happy to speak with police and answer their questions (and I still am), but there is very little I can share publicly about it at this stage, and police didn’t raise anything that I haven’t already published/addressed (as text or video), so you’re not missing much.

Obviously, this revelation does not change or undermine the central thrust of this post or the vast majority of what I specifically assert in it. If it had, significant changes would have been made to the headline and body of this post to reflect this. For now, this update will suffice, as nothing has changed about the following:

Dorries made her accusation about there being an investigation in progress at a time when no relevant police force can confirm her ever having made a complaint. I still intend to hold her to account for that, as you should.

This has now been picked up by Dorries’ local paper, Bedfordshire on Sunday:

A spokesman for Bedfordshire Police said: “Officers from Bedfordshire police are currently looking into a complaint of stalking/harassment in May 2010.

“Officers are in the process of talking to both parties involved to determine whether any actual offences of harassment or stalking have been committed and if any further action needs to be taken.

“Inquiries are currently ongoing.”

The video below shows the event at which Dorries is claiming that a crime of harassment took place – no reasonable person could regard Tim’s behaviour as threatening or disruptive. Further background is provided here.

Dorries’ sense of entitlement is legendary – for instance, her response to a new Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority guide to expenses was a mocking post on her blog with a photo showing how her copy of the document had supposedly been blown out of her office by a gust of wind (according to last week’s Sunday Times, a file on Dorries’ expenses was recently passed by the police to the Crown Prosecution Service). It is possible she sincerely believes that a persistent critic of her political activities ought to be restrained and suppressed by the police as a matter of principle. But surely even her most partisan hacks must baulk at defending such an obvious abuse of the law?

This is not the first time that the police have been obliged to follow up a meritless complaint against a blogger – in 2008 the journalist Oliver Kamm was contacted by the police after Neil Clark objected to Kamm’s scathing criticisms of Clark’s work on his blog.

Catholic Herald Puffs Nadine Dorries

As Nadine Dorries MP faces continued unwelcome scrutiny over her love life and her expenses, Ed West has come to the rescue with a soft-ball interview in the Catholic Herald which emphasises her “bravery” on the issue of abortion:

…Those unfamiliar with the world of blogs and social networking site Twitter will not fully appreciate how much hatred Dorries attracts over this issue, the majority of which seems to come from men, who devote an almost demented amount of time tapping at keyboards explaining why they hate this woman. “What have I done to justify this level of vitriol?” Dorries asks. “What’s it about? The only controversial issue I’ve ever taken up is abortion, and that’s the only hook to hang it on.”

Yet she is not even “against” abortion as such, in that she does not wish to re-criminalise it.

“I’m neither pro-choice nor pro-life,” she says. “I take the middle ground, and I find it hard to understand why anyone – especially feminists – could disagree with what I say if they are really concerned with women and their health issues.” Both sides of the argument, she says, are “ghettoised” on the issue.

…She describes herself as being a “bit low” following the press treatment of her private life, the expenses scandal (which she describes as “unbearable”) and the story in that morning’s Mirror alleging that she is being investigated for her expenses.

“It’s a ridiculous story, and its been planned to put out on the day I’ll be on breakfast TV on abortion,” she says. “All it is is nasty, Left-wing politicking…”

Someone else who may be feeling a “bit low” right now is Rachael Butler, her ex-friend and the estranged wife of her new lover. After Rachael Butler spoke to the press about the situation, Dorries took revenge on the woman – who is clearly somewhat vulnerable and no real threat to her – by outing her as an alcoholic whose daughters have repudiated her (she went on to tell the press that Rachael Butler had “confided” to her that she had had an affair of her own – a claim denied by both Butler and the man with whom she supposedly had the affair). West merely alludes to Dorries’ “relationship with a family friend”. West’s reference to vitriol from “men” who are apparently “demented”obviously hints at Dorries’ strategy of smearing on-line critics as being “stalkers” – one wonders if West’s report is a somewhat toned down version of what she actually said on this subject.

Dorries’ claim to be “neither pro-choice nor pro-life” is dubious – she has commended a booklet on abortion produced by a group called Forsaken, which she described in the same terms. In fact, as I blogged here, the booklet is a religious tract that counsels against abortion and urges women who have had abortions to become Christians. However, abortion is not the only issue on which she has invited critical public attention: she took revenge on someone who had criticised her on Twitter by smearing the person concerned as a benefits cheat, and her behaviour on a reality TV programme last year was extraordinary. As regards her expenses, she was only cleared by a Parliamentary investigation after admitting that much of what she writes on her blog is “fiction”, and while news that materials have been passed to police was broken by the Mirror, it was the Sunday Times that confirmed that police have submitted a file to the Crown Prosecution Service.

The interview also gives Dorries a chance to explain her vision for society, in which respect for religious authority has been restored (link added):

“The problem is the churches have withdrawn,” she replies. “Where I grew up the priest was king. We were scared of priests – the same with the vicars. The Church played a very important role. The Church set boundaries. So did schools, doctors, district nurses. But the Church withdrew, the state became anonymous and society went into freefall. One of the things about the Big Society is to try to put those boundaries back.

“But the Church has to step up to the plate. Although they get involved in charitable works they tend to be on the state-funded fringes and I’m not talking about that type of role. I’m talking about a micro level. I’m talking about priests working with communities and admitting to a level of authority they used to.

“Charity has been eroded, it’s just become another arm of the state. The Catholic Church has had a huge beating and it has to recover from that. Maybe the Big Society and the opportunities it presents to the Catholic Church may be part of the healing process for the Church.”

In particular, Dorries is angered that the churches have not given her more support in her anti-abortion efforts:

“I need religious support,” she says. “It is our core support. I need the churches being more involved, and the churches have been pathetic, pathetic, during the abortion debate in their support for what I was trying to do.

“The Church of England was the worst and the only person in the Catholic Church who made any comment was Cardinal O’Brien. Everybody was silent because the churches were weak and cowardly in their position…”

Although West doesn’t mention it, Dorries has close links with Christian Concern, a lobby group which in turn takes advice from the Alliance Defense Fund, a US Christian Right organisation.

West also mentions that Dorries “belongs to the Cornerstone Group, nicknamed the ‘Tory Taliban’ by opponents”. The Cornerstone Group has a website here; there are 40 Conservative MPs who are members, and the “Cornerstone” is apparently a reference to Psalm 118:22:

The stone which the builders rejected is become the chief cornerstone

The text refers to ancient Israel, and in the New Testament is applied to Jesus. However, the group’s blurb tells us that the group stands for “spiritual values”, rather than explicitly Christianity. Among those listed as members is Philip Hollobone, whom I blogged on a few days ago here, and the former Monday Club members Andrew Rosindell and Bill Cash (1). The majority of the material on the site appeared to be pieces by Edward Leigh.

(1) Back in August the New Statesman noted Cash and Rosindell’s links to the Italian Alleanza Nazionale party in 1990s. Rosindell was also formerly chairman of the Greater London Young Conservatives, as I blogged here.

Pastor Terry Jones and “England is Ours”

The news that Pastor Terry Jones has been formally banned from entering the UK provides an unwelcome opportunity for the Pastor and a British far-right activist to grandstand; the Guardian reports:

The English nationalist group that invited Jones is opposing a Milton Keynes pub being converted into a mosque. The group, England Is Ours, said the ban was an attack on “freedom of speech”.

…Barry Taylor of England Is Ours said he hoped other members of Jones’s church, based in Gainesville, Florida, would be able to visit Milton Keynes.

“We are very disappointed,” said Taylor, a computer engineer. “This is about freedom of speech. We were hoping that he would come and give a few private talks and hold an outdoor service here.

“We want to talk about the way he has drawn together various organisations that are opposed to Islamisation. We have been helping the British National party demonstrate here against plans to turn a pub in Bletchley into a mosque.”

Taylor said his group, which has about 30 members, contacted Jones after the English Defence League withdrew its invitation.

It was always obvious that Jones would be added to the list of those whose presence in the UK is deemed by authorities to be “not conducive to the public good”, but that announcing a planned visit would therefore generate a good deal of publicity for very little effort.

I blogged on the EDL invitation here and here. It was followed by an invitation from the far-right National Front, which Jones announced on his church’s website. This announcement was quietly removed soon after it appeared, and the website of the East Midlands National Front posted that:

Now Terry Jones Pulls Out!!

It now appears that Dr Terry Jones will not be attending an event in the UK after all. It seems that following the EDL canceling his engagement and subsequent alterations to his international itinerary the UK will probably not feature in his list of engagements.

It is also suspected that diplomatic representations to the US may have had some bearing on him ‘changing his mind’. (1)

Taylor’s “England is Ours” is an obscure outfit, although it has websites here and here. According to its blurb:

It is our intention to take back governance of the United Kingdom and return it to the control of the British people. We shall campaign to modify the behavior of local authorities where this is contrary to the wishes of local people. We also wish to welcome others with similar views to move to the Milton Keynes area of the United Kingdom where we are able to unite and co-operate among ourselves to improve the situation. This process will obviously be slow and beset with problems, but has already had some success. This is somewhat akin to the “P.L.E.” project in the Northwest USA.

“PLE” stands for “Pioneer Little Europe”; the concept was devised by H. Michael Barrett, an associate of David Duke who is quoted as describing it as “a generic term for any local community where Whites live in close proximity to businesses which offer cultural facilities and services, most of whom openly support their political revival.” Taylor also apparently has another website here, where he explains his opposition to the mosque and asks readers to send Christmas cards to (among others) some imprisoned Holocaust deniers in Germany and Austria.

Taylor’s background has been outlined by Islamophobia Watch:

Barry Taylor, the spokesperson for England Is Ours quoted in the report, is presumably the same Barry Taylor who was formerly a member of Milton Keynes BNP and stood for the far-right England First Party in the Milton Keynes Council elections in 2008. That same year Taylor was responsible for organising the annual John Tyndall Memorial Meeting, where a “gathering of white racial nationalists” celebrated the life of the late founder of the BNP. In 2009 Three Counties Unity named Taylor as part of a group of individuals who “straddle a variety of nationalist groupings, having dealings with the BNP, Nationalist Alliance, British People’s Party (BPP) and lately, the England First Party”. It was leaked documents written by Taylor which revealed links between Luton BNP and the football hooligans known as the MIGs some of whose members played a central role in launching the English Defence League…

(I blogged on the MIGs here)

Index on Censorship has some more details:

The England Is Ours website provide links to links to the BNP, the National Front and StormFront. When I spoke to England Is Ours secretary Barry Taylor he said he has “no idea” if Jones is racist but he thought not because Jones has an “Egyptian chap as a pastor and some African–American chaps”. Taylor happily admitted Jones is anti-gay “but that’s a Christian thing.”

The “Egyptian chap”, as I blogged here, is Morris Sadek of the self-styled “National American Coptic Association”. I don’t know who the “African-American chaps” may be, but here’s Jones explaining his fondness for the word “nigger”.

(H/T to a reader)

(1)eastmidlandsnf.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/now-terry-jones-pulls-out/

Third Jihad Used to Train Police in New York; Denounced as “Wacky Movie” by Deputy Commissioner

The Village Voice has the latest on politically-skewed “anti-terror” law enforcement training:

This month, when a group of New York City police officers showed up for their required counter-terrorism training, they got to watch a movie.

…The film is called The Third Jihad. It is 72 minutes of gruesome footage of bombing carnage, frenzied crowds, burning American flags, flaming churches, and seething mullahs.

…”After it was over, I was thinking, ‘What was that?’ ” said a cop who saw the movie at a training facility used by the department in Coney Island. “It was so ridiculously one-sided. It just made Muslims look like the enemy. It was straight propaganda.”

As it happens, police officials agree that this is a “wacky movie,” as deputy commissioner Paul Browne said, that never should have been shown to officers. Browne initially insisted that cops had never seen the flick. “It was reviewed and found to be inappropriate,” he said. Further checking revealed that the movie had been aired for officers. It was a mistake, Browne said. “It was not approved for the curriculum. It’s not shown for any purpose now.”

The report notes tells us that the film includes punditry from Glenn Beck – presumably footage, since he’s not listed as an interviewee. As has been widely reported, the Third Jihad was produced by the Clarion Fund, which was also responsible for the documentary Obsession (the Fund also promoted the “Islam doll” conspiracy theory). DVDs of Obsession were widely distributed for free in 2008 in the run-up to the presidential election: it should be noted (a) that the Clarion Fund website carried material explictly endorsing McCain until it came to general notice; (b) that the Obsession giveaway apparently targeted swing states; and (c) that at least one of the “experts” featured in the Obsession film – namely Walid Shoebat – has been known to promote the conspiracy theory that Obama is “really” a Muslim.

The role of dubious and ideologically-driven “self-described experts” advising law enforcement was the subject of a Washington Post report last month, as I blogged here; Chip Berlet, meanwhile, has recently announced that Political Research Associates has a forthcoming report on “key counter-terrorism firms offering highly politicized, biased seminars and industry conferences.”

In 2008 I noted that the Third Jihad cover art had been tweaked a couple of times before the documentary came out, although at least one person who left comments wasn’t impressed by my suggestion about why this may have occured.

(Hat tip: The Revealer)


Pat Robertson’s CBN Backs Gbagbo

With international pressure on Laurent Gbagbo to step down following the recent election in the Ivory Coast, Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network has come to the rescue with a softball interview which, CBN boasts, was “broadcast on Ivorian National Television”. The interview gave Gbagbo a platform to discourse on his Christian faith, and CBN’s Gary Lane – aware of his brief to present Gbagbo as a Christian bulwark against Islam – didn’t spoil the mood by asking about Gbagbo’s polygamy or other awkward subjects.

The CBN segment also featured input from Clifton Clarke, a British scholar who is Associate Professor of Global Missions and World Christianity at Robertson’s Regent University; Clarke claimed that Saudi Arabia and “Muslims in France” had been “seeking to influence” the election in some unspecified unfair way. Christian Right news-site OneNewsNow, picking up the baton, tells us that the election is “the latest example of how Islam is steadily moving its influence southward into sub-Saharan Africa”, and that “The Christian Broadcasting Network maintains that Gbagbo, who is a Christian, only lost to the Muslim challenger because of voter fraud.”

Evangelical support for Gbagbo is long-standing – I wrote about it on this blog back in 2004. One of his two wives, Simone, has also been playing the religion card with some enthusiasm; according to France 24:

Increasingly isolated internationally, Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo counts on the support of his influential, Bible-wielding wife Simone to rally followers at home.

…In a show of strength and defiance, Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo’s allies organised a rally on Saturday in Abidjan that drew around 4,000 supporters.

…Simone Gbagbo is an evangelical Christian and references to God fill her colourful speeches. Saturday’s address was no exception.

“God is leading our fight,” “God has already given us victory,” and “God is with the people, God chose Gbagbo” were just a few of the remarks heard at the rally in Abidjan.

Gbagbo is not the only African leader to have enjoyed an endorsement of Pat Robertson; presumably, though, Gbagbo is praying that a blessing from the Holy Man of Virginia Beach will serve him better than was the case for Charles Taylor.

UPDATE: More on this from Terry Krepel at Media Matters.