During the filming of Tower Block of Commons (in December last year), one of two sisters Nadine Dorries was staying with was so incensed by the MP’s conduct that she began broadcasting on Twitter. The two tweets from that account that are most relevant to this post are highlighted below:
After the first episodes were broadcast (in February of this year) those same sisters went on to accuse Nadine Dorries of not only offering to share the extra £50 she had stashed in her bra, but also a share of a secret stash of temazepam, an addictive sleeping pill with a reputation for recreational use:
A pair of single mums have told how Tory MP Nadine Dorries offered them the prescription drug temazepam when she lived with them for a reality TV show.
Sisters Rena Spain and Nisha Young… (say) she waited until the cameras were off, and then offered the tranquillisers around. Mum-of-five Rena, 40, said: “She went into her suitcase and pulled out this big plastic bag with all different types of pills in it. She asked, ‘Does anyone want one of these?’ She said they were temazepam and were really good to help you sleep. I said, ‘You can’t just hand them out like Smarties’.”
The sisters say mum-of-three Dorries, 52, offered them the pills on the first night of her stay on the South Acton estate in West London. The controversial Mid-Beds MP was there as part of the C4 show Tower Block of Commons, and last week we revealed how she stuffed £50 into her bra when she was supposed to be living on benefits. Yesterday the MP denied the allegations. (source)
Yes, Nadine Dorries denied the allegations. But not the possession. Dorries even went on to reinforce the matter of possession by making this vague accusation against her accusers on her Twitter account:
The tweets by ‘ihatemp’ (above) are the only visible record in the public domain that match this description. What this leaves us with is Nadine Dorries going into a council estate to face the ‘reality’ of poverty with £50 stashed in her bra, her tummy tucked into £120 worth of denim, and an unknown quantity of prescription-only medication hidden in her washbag.
(Nadine spoke of a thorough search of participants before going in, so it is unlikely that the drugs were initially hidden in her washbag. It is more likely they were hidden somewhere on her person and/or in her intimates… like the £50 was.)
It is at this point that today’s thought experiment begins.
Imagine for a moment that I have a single unnamed source claiming that Nadine was also carrying illegal drugs at the time. This hypothetical source didn’t get close to Dorries at the time, and doesn’t even live on the estate, but they have an accusation that suits my agenda so I rush forward with it anyway.
Imagine also that I am not a campaigner against tabloid scum, but that I am tabloid scum, and, at this stage, so far up the arse of certain right wing newspapers that I can see through their blowhole. This being the case, I have no trouble getting my claim into print, and it’s a whopper; a killer ‘fact’ with added stickiness. For the purposes of effective illustration, I have chosen possession of crack cocaine; it is a ‘dirty’ drug with mostly negative associations, it is the more plausible choice in Dorries’ case (because a lot of the time she carries on as if she’s off her head on the stuff), and it permits the tabloid-friendly jest that Nadine Dorries hid fifty pounds of cash in her bra and eighty pounds of crack in her knickers.
(See what I mean? Sticky!)
Finally, instead of running my blog responsibly (with comment registration and pre-vetting for new users) let’s assume that I host my main site on Blogger.com, and run comments like an open sewer when it suits me. Most days the moderation wall is up, but today I have chosen to leave comments wide open for some reason; anyone can come in and submit anything they please, and I have no method/will for tracking the author(s). Further, even if I delete ‘offending’ comments immediately, what has been submitted will still be visible to an unknown number of subscribers.
Later, I’ll broadcast contradictory accounts about why I withdrew the claim and when, but for now what matters is that I have informed the newspaper of my 180-degree turn too late to avoid my claim going to print, and by the next day it’s in front of over 2 million people.
Thousands of those people descend on my website, doubling my audience overnight. I have since withdrawn the main part of the claim from my website, but I leave in place a sentence that gives the impression that my claim stands. There is certainly no hint that the claim of illegal drugs made in the newspaper has since been withdrawn. In fact, it is in this climate, among these thousands of people, that I speak of Nadine definitely being in possession of ‘the drugs’ or ‘those drugs’. Of course, I’m referring to the prescription drugs when I say this, but what everyone hears is “crack cocaine”
I’m not stupid enough to allow any comment repeating the specific claim I have withdrawn, but instead of correcting anyone who repeats it publicly, I have the claim withdrawn quietly. Privately.
Similarly, comments declaring the crack cocaine claims to be false are swiftly deleted. (Comments accusing that author of being a mental-case on par with and/or in league with Dorries, and possibly a drug addict themselves, I will allow.)
Eventually I huffily issue a correction within my post, but in the days that pass before that happens I will have repeatedly used the means at my disposal to maintain the illusion that Nadine Dorries went into the council estate carrying crack cocaine.
What I am describing here, ladies and gentlemen, is the exact same method that Iain Dale used to libel Tom Watson, and he can’t deny it, because I have dated copies of the relevant thread as it unfolded, and there are still remnants of his libel live in that thread.
Nadine Dorries isn’t* on crack cocaine. End of thought experiment.
Iain Dale is a lying bastard. End of story.
(*For the record, the only evidence of Nadine Dorries taking crack cocaine is the counter-clockwise rotation of her eyeballs, but she has yet to issue any denial about her alleged possession of slimming/’amphetamine’ pills and temazepam and has instead moaned about people going through her stuff.)