Nadine Dorries: Vicious and Ridiculous

Bedfordshire-on-Sunday has picked up on Nadine Dorries’ attack on a Twitter user:

A prospective Labour candidate has hit back at her local Tory MP’s remarks about people claiming disability benefits who post on Twitter, which she says were aimed at her.

…Because she is unfit to work as a carer, Ms [Sue] Cullen receives longterm sick pay from the agency she is employed by, but says she doesn’t get any ‘health related benefits’.

Ms Cullen… also writes erotic fiction for a blog called Word Ejaculation.

…”I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it because the blog isn’t offensive and it’s for adults. I don’t see why disabled people shouldn’t be allowed to have a sex life and I wanted to show that.”

Ms Dorries said: “I know many decent members of the local Labour party who will be both shocked and embarrassed to realise they have selected a candidate who writes such sexually graphic literature supported by even more graphic photographs, all of which are easily viewed by children with access to a computer.
“To date, Ms Cullen has tweeted 37,000 times, a phenomenal amount, many of which have been about me personally.

“I do not regard someone who can strut around, use a keyboard with such dexterity and had displayed both stamina and an excellent attention span to be ‘disabled’.

“In fact, I think someone who can tweet so frequently is giving housebound disabled people a bad name.”

I blogged on the background to this situation here; Dorries’ attack came days after Ms Cushion (she prefers “Humphrey Cushion” over “Sue” or “Ms Cullen”) had complained about Dorries’ smearing of Tim Ireland as a “nutter”. Dorries has told numerous lies about Tim as a strategy to counter his on-line satire and criticism of her activities, the most egregious of which was the lie that she had deleted her old blog because she feared Tim might physically attack her. Dorries has persisted with her lies even though she knows that a cyber-stalker has been using her accusations as a justification for a campaign of harassment against Tim and his family.

In this context, Dorries’ attack on Ms Cushion is par for the course, and she has followed up her comments in the newspaper with a tirade on her new blog:

Interesting comments by Sue Cullen, the candidate the local Labour party has selected for the forthcoming local elections. She is also the Bedfordshire Labour party organiser who attends meetings in the Jubilee room in the House of Commons with Kerry McCarthy MP, the Labour party Twitter Tsar and whom Kerry McCarthy visits at her home…

I understand that Ms Cushion has never been to the House of Commons or the Jubilee Room. The reference to McCarthy is presumably an attempt to muster support from other right-leaning bloggers: McCarthy was the focus of a weirdly vitriolic campaign against her prior to the election, led by Iain Dale. Dorries has already co-opted the pseudo-libertarian blogger Paul Staines into her attack on Ms Cushion; Dorries intitially pretended that her initial attack on Ms Cushion was only prompted because Staines had “found” her.

Dorries then fires indiscriminate accusations of dishonesty against Ms Cushion, beginning with her public profile:

…Apparently, according to her Labour party bio, she also writes for Bella and the Guardian. Obviously put on the party web site in order to impress and win votes. Or is it con votes? Because it implies she is a fully paid up journalist, or has been for both publications, which is interesting, as when writing a blog post recently, the only writing achievement she referred to was one where she won a competition at the age of sixteen? Conned blog readers?

The site said that she had written items for Bella and the Guardian. The was no implication that she was ever “a fully paid up journalist”, and no way that anyone reading the profile in good faith could have gone away with such an impression.

Next, it’s back to the erotica:

…The adult web site she writes for is not specifically for disabled people in any way whatsoever, or claims to be… It appears Sue Cullen, who writes as Ms Cushion, conned the Beds on Sunday journalist into thinking it was a provision for disabled people.

In fact, Word Ejaculation is a group blog with various contributers. Ms Cushion doesn’t claim that the site “was a provision for disabled people”, just that this was her motivation for writing.

Dorries then moves on to Ms Cushion’s current job:

…She claims her agency is paying her long term whilst she is off sick. And the journalist believed her.  I am sure every carer would like to know the name of the agency, so good that if you are off work for months they keep on paying. So, who’s being conned there? The tweeters or the journalist?

The concept of “long-term sick-leave” is known in a number of jobs, and Dorries offers no evidence that Ms Cushion is not on it.

We then get to the main topic, Ms Cushion’s medical situation:

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.

Yes, Dorries is claiming that if someone says they are waiting for an operation on their feet, they must be lying because two operations would be needed. Commentary is superfluous here. Further:

…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. Odd that she has never mentioned once on twitter that she was the Labour party organiser. And believe me, she can walk pretty fast and shout very loud.

Tim deals with this on his own blog:

As Nadine Dorries is aware, I recorded that hustings event on two cameras…I have captured video and audio of every moment from her arrival to her departure.

I have now reviewed the footage, and it supports my recollection of the event:

Ms Cullen did not ‘storm’ after Dorries before or after the event… Nor did Ms Cullen ‘strut’ as Dorries claimed in an earlier post. These are exaggerations by Ms Dorries that prove nothing but her mind-boggling determination to portray Ms Cullen as a benefits cheat.

(Yes, Ms Cullen dared to walk, but this could best be described as an ‘amble’, and her ability to walk does nothing to disprove the condition of arthritis. All Dorries does here is stumble witlessly once again in the area that got her into so much trouble last week; not every disabled person is in a wheelchair.)

The only person at that meeting who could be described as a ‘shouter’ spoke in Dorries’ defence…

Dorries claimed during that meeting (after she realised I was filming, of course) that she had to leave early at a certain time because of an unspecified event that took precedent over the final hustings before polling day. She ended up leaving some 10-15 minutes before even this predicted time, and yes, Ms Cullen followed Ms Dorries outside. Certainly not to berate her as she implies, but merely to observe. And what Ms Cullen (and others) observed was Nadine Dorries standing around and smoking when she had just moments earlier claimed that she had to leave because she was in a hurry to be somewhere else.

But we’re not quite at the end yet: Dorries goes on to reveal that Ms Cushion

…also tweets that legislation prevents her from visiting the local people she used to care for, who apparently miss her as much as she misses them. Does it really? Legislation prevents you from visiting people in their home in your own time? I’m going to overdo the ‘con’ word here.

In fact, a number of jobs such as Ms Cushion’s have restrictions and rules around employees socialising with clients. The Daily Mail reported on one case in August.

Dorries then detours with a jibe against a rival politician named Linda Jack (Jack had taken fluffy handcuffs to the Lib-Dem conference as a satirical comment on the Coalition government; Dorries implies that she took them to the conference for sexual reasons), before explaining how much she does for the disabled. She ends by boasting of “the hundreds of constituents who have emailed my office in support of my earlier blog post”.

It is truly alarming that this person enjoys a position of national responsibility.

UPDATE: Ms Cushion comments:

…I am awaiting two operations on my feet for arthritis. I have been waiting since March 2010 for the operation on my right foot and since August for my left foot.  At no time have I ever said nor suggested that these will be at the same time, although I have heard from several people who have had such treatment.

Meanwhile, with laughable clunkiness, Dorries has made two blog posts meant to demonstrate her empathy with disabled people. In the first, she commiserates with someone who has dyslexia, reminding us that she is also dyslexic; and in the second, she tells us about how yesterday she had been concerned that she had seen a blind reporter’s guide dog being stolen and had contacted the police, but that it had turned out to be a false alarm.