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Nadine Dorries attacks "McCarthyite" tactics of Telegraph

DORRIES ON QT On the Today programme this morning Conservative MP Nadine Dorries accused The Telegraph of running something like a McCarthyite witch hunt against MPs.  On her blog yesterday she speculated that The Telegraph's owners were pursuing a secret plan to help UKIP and the BNP:

"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."

Repeating comments that she made on her blog, the MP for Mid Bedforshire who has, herself, faced some controversial flak from The Telegraph, said MPs were in danger of cracking and the atmosphere in the House of Commons was "unbearable for any human being to deal with".  Yesterday she wrote that "everyone fears a suicide."

No Prime Minister has ever had the courage to award MPs a proper salary increase, she told the Today programme, and the allowances had been used to compensate for this lack of adequate remuneration.  That was widely accepted and known by journalists, she continued.  She said that the Fees Office sat down with MPs prior to 2005, in particular, and helped them maximise use of their allowances in order to compensate for their lack of basic pay.  Those specific allegations against the Fees Office were confirmed by Labour MP Stephen Pound:

"They used to ring people and say you’re under claiming this month. In reality they were helping us over the cliff."

Listen again to Nadine Dorries here.

My own view is very different.  The Telegraph has got some things wrong and they have over hyped certain things like with Bill Wiggin yesterday.  I also think it's time for the national spotlight to move back to other issues - not least the economy.  But The Telegraph has exposed massive wrongdoing in politics and necessary and widespread reforms will hopefully result.  Blaming the fees office won't wash either.  MPs should have the courage to vote for higher pay if they think they deserve it.  The last word to The Economist's Bagehot:

"Westminster loves the language of gore. People talk of “back-stabbings” and “assassins”; of electoral “massacres”; of paths to power “littered with corpses” and of “bloodbaths” if the powerful are crossed. In this sanguinary lexicon MPs are accounted “brave” and “heroic” for drafting a motion that calls for a parliamentary official to resign, or for writing newspaper articles that are codedly critical of their leaders. They aren’t. It is brave to attend a protest rally in Burma. It is brave to be an independent journalist in Russia. It is brave to be a human-rights monitor in Syria. In Britain heads roll or are impaled on spikes only metaphorically. Only ink actually gets spilt: there will not be blood. The costs of sticking out a neck are pifflingly low. Ordinary Britons might well wonder why in these febrile times so few politicians, whether commanders or foot soldiers, are willing to make a stand."

Tim Montgomerie


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