Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Nadine Dorries did not get to parliament on the same basis as everyone else

There is an interesting piece by Unity on Liberal Conspiracy this morning which highlights how Nadine Dorries' comments about having got to parliament without having needed any form of positive discrimination seems to be contradicted somewhat by a contemporaneous account published in The Times.

What I want to focus on though is the following claim from Nadine in her Conservative Home piece:

I have never, other than when looking into the eyes of my new born babies, felt as proud as I did on that night. That pride, that sense of achievement, the knowledge that I was selected on the basis of my performance and merit above all other candidates on that day is what enables me to hold my head up high in this place. It’s what humbles me every morning when I walk into Members’ Lobby. It gives me confidence to take on my male colleagues with not just a little bottle, because I got here by exactly the same process that they did. They are no better than me and I no lesser than they.

The thing is that isn't really true. There are 646 parliamentary seats in this country and not all are equal. Nadine was selected for the seat of Mid-Bedfordshire which is one of the safest Conservative seats in the country. This means that Nadine effectively won the seat at the selection contest. The selectorate chose her as the candidate that night and it would have taken a major, major upset for her not to have won the subsequent election which she of course did with a majority of 11,355. (Incidentally there was a 2.6% swing against Nadine in the 2005 election against a modest 0.6% swing towards the Conservatives nationwide).

In other words Nadine could have done virtually nothing during the 2005 election campaign and still have won with a huge majority . I'm not really sure how by her own terms Nadine can look people like Labour MP Laura Moffatt (majority 37), Lib Dem MP Sandra Gidley (majority 125) or her own parliamentary party colleague David Jones (majority 133) in the eye and see equivalence. People like them really, really had to fight to win their seats and they are all at real risk of losing them at the next election. Nadine realistically, as long as she can keep her local association sweet can remain the MP for Mid Bedfordshire as long as she likes.

The certainly did not get into parliament by "exactly the same process" as Nadine.


Quietzapple said...

You mean the people of Mid Beds do not have a particular preference for garrulous self serving & obsessed women?

Mid Beds be praised!

devolute said...

Here's the thing: Does she not know that she got special treatment and is deluding herself (again), or does she honestly believe that she got there by her own hard work?

Chris Paul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Paul said...

Nadine's "work" started with lifelong CV massaging. Raving Mythomania. She seems to have told fibs for fun - or rather personal advancement - throughout her "working" life. She is riding for a fall. But how bad would that have to be for Mid Beds Cons to oust her? And would Dave Cam have the balls to get rid?

Stu said...

Dunno, seems to me that her point is actually quite valid - she didn't receive special advantage (that she was aware of) on the basis of being a women. There's plenty of men in safe seats too, you know.

You seem to be conflating two separate issues here. She's saying she arrived in the Commons by the same process as the men did, without the gender-specific help of an all-woman shortlist. You're complaining because she sat in a safe seat. The one point doesn't really reflect on the other at all.

Unity does point out that it seems CCHQ leaned on the constituency office to select a woman, which would put the balance in her favour (along with the other women who were up for selection) but it's not clear that Nadine would have been involved or even aware of that going on.

Much as I'm not a Nadine fan, it feels like her words are being pretty twisted here.

Mark Thompson said...

Stu - I am well aware of what she means; she is all but admitting that the important bit is the selection given that that is what she is talking about when she says she "got here".

I am simply pointing about that "getting there" for some MPs is more than just getting selected, it's actually winning the election whereas for Nadine it was basically a foregone conclusion.

Her comments actually betray a view I suspect is prevelant amongst many MPs in safe seats.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

"Nadine realistically, as long as she can keep her local association sweet can remain the MP for Mid Bedfordshire as long as she likes."

She's not doing so well on that one at present though, is she? I gather they were quite cross with her over expenses, witch-hunts and others...

Mark Thompson said...

THBW - That's as maybe but you can bet your life that's what she's worrying about. What her constituency association thinks. Not what the voters of Mid Bedfordshire think.

Ian Eiloart said...

The quote you've given from Nadine is about her selection. The point of her blog post is that she was selected without preference. It's in the context of a debate about all-women shortlists.

Sure FPP is unfair, but that's a different debate, and a different blog post.

Mark Thompson said...

I know the quote is about her selection but I am interesting in the specific bit: "I got here by exactly the same process that they did.". She is referring to parliament. It is not me that is conflating the two things (selection and election) it is Nadine that is doing it.

It betrays the truth that she knows full well it was the selection that gave her her seat, not the election. This is my point. She is in a safe seat.

Richard T said...

Now perhaps my memory serves me wrong but I thought that Mid Bedfordshire Conservatives had to find themselves a candidate at pretty short notice since their (Tory) MP had been censured for some sort of impropriety and had de facto resigned just before the election. Ms Dorries was therefore parachuted in to fill a gap. Whether the selection was 'normal' I can't say but my recollection says it was a rushed job.