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.

One Response

  1. In the interview Dorries again gives incorrect data about the risks of mental ill-health for those women who have had abortions.

    She made the same errors in her speech to parliament in November.

    I have posted about both errors (see here.

    In November I emailed Dorries pointing out her mistake but, unsurprisingly, I got no reply.

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