Nadine Dorries and what she has (and has not) learned from Iain Dale

This entry was posted on
Thursday, November 1st, 2007
10:02 am and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

[Note – Garry has also blogged about this, because we have similar views on how bloggers should conduct themselves we’re both part of the same vast left-wing conspiracy.]

Yesterday, Nadine Dorries was all-drama as she released her ‘Minority Report’. In it, she made this claim:

We were greatly concerned to read in the Guardian on 27 October an article clearly aimed at undermining the credibility of Professor John Wyatt, which contained detailed information about Wyatt’s evidence, which was passed by him to the committee after his oral evidence session, and which could only have been passed on to the journalist concerned by a member of the Select Committee. There should be an enquiry about how this information got into the public domain and as to whether such a personal attack represents a serious breach of parliamentary procedure given that witnesses were told by the committee that any disclosure of personal interests would not prejudice the hearing of their evidence.

Just quickly, here’s a simple courtesy that Nadine couldn’t manage herself; a hyperlink to said article. There’s a mirror of it on the author’s weblog. (You may note distinct differences between the two versions… yes, the blog version contains more of those pesky hyperlinks.)

But like many people who blog in the style of Iain Dale, Nadine Dorries has learned the value of not actually linking to the item/person she’s attacking. This is a most-useful technique to use when you are launching an ad hominem attack on someone by falsely claiming that they have launched an ad hominem attack on yourself or one of your associates.

[It is here, class, that I must refer you to a related chapter showing you how to further perfect this technique by also refusing, redirecting and/or fouling *inbound* hyperlinks.]

Here’s the reaction from the author, Dr Ben Goldacre:

My article did indeed contain detailed information about Prof Wyatt’s evidence, but I suspect any enquiry set up to examine how I managed to obtain that information would finish its work well before the first set of tea and biscuits arrived, since all the facts came from the written evidence published openly and in full during the select committee hearing. There’s nothing clever about what I do, let me promise you.

Some readers of Iain Dale’s weblog refused to mindlessly accept/endorse Nadine’s nonsense and complete ignorance of parliamentary procedure as readily as Iain did. In fact one them posted this:

Chris Rodger said…

I have posted this on Nadine Dorries blog:
You make a serious allegation against the Guardian and by implication the journalist (Ben Goldacre) that wrote the piece. Yet as he explains here (, he based his article on published information.
You should either justify why you have de facto accused him of “a breach of parliamentary procedure” or apologise and withdraw the comment.

October 31, 2007 10:09 AM

That comment was not published by Nadine Dorries. Needless to say, she didn’t withdraw her false claim or apologise for making it, either.

This distinct lack of accountability didn’t escape the attention of comment-contributors to Ben Goldacre’s weblog. One of them posted this:

BarryNL said,
(October 31, 2007 at 2:39 pm)

“It’s open for comment …”

Hmm, strange that all the comments seems to be positive. Let’s have a go and see if anyone can get her to approve a critical comment on that page…

[It should be noted for the record that another graduate of the Iain Dale School of Blogging classifies this kind of behaviour as a Denial of Service Attack.]

But the only challenging comments Nadine (eventually) published were so gently obscure in nature or so completely lacking in detail that they did nothing to actually challenge what she had to say (example: “I think you’re wrong here Nadine”). There was certainly no published reference to her false claims about Ben Goldacre.

Nadine Dorries then sought to address this little problem by refusing to publish *any* comments until further notice because she’s ‘too busy’:

No More Comments
Posted Thursday, 1 November 2007 at 00:00

I am no longer going to post comments on my blog.

Please don’t send any more comments – It’s a time thing, I don’t have any.

I have to rely on the patience of others to read and post the comments for me. I am never in front of a computer for more than a couple of minutes at a time and this has now made reading the comments before they are posted impossible.

Knowing that there are comments on my site which I may not even have had time to see, makes me uncomfortable.

If any one wants to contact me you can still do so via the email facility on the home page.

I will continue to blog each day as I can do that on the run!!

Like yet *another* graduate of the Iain Dale School of Blogging, she has cleverly made a false claim and run away when it has been challenged.

[Psst! It is at this point, Nadine, that the Iain Dale Guide to Blogging Like a Complete Twat recommends that you scream “Personal attack!” and/or “Vitriol!” in a way that allows you to refuse all references to Ben Goldacre, instead of refusing comments altogether. Even if these claims are completely without basis, you need not be concerned because… you will be refusing all references to Ben Goldacre! A case study of the master at work is published here.]

Ben Goldacre and his readers have reacted in a suitably ‘obsessive’ fashion by ‘secretly conspiring’ in the following manner:

NickConnolly said,
(October 31, 2007 at 10:45 pm)

“There should be an enquiry about how this information got into the public domain and as to whether such a personal attack represents a serious breach of parliamentary procedure..”
I think we should start a petition for that inquiry right now! Presumably we can then all submit written evidence on ‘how to download stuff’ and ‘how to read stuff’.

Ben Goldacre said,
(October 31, 2007 at 11:14 pm)

ok seriously. that’s what I want for xmas. only you can give it to me. nothing could make me as happy as a response from the number10 petiton people on this petition. can anybody be bothered to start one? I reckon if you worded it right it would get through.

NickConnolly said,
(November 1, 2007 at 9:03 am)

Regarding Ben’s Xmas present:
The petition should be unsarcastic – phrased correctly you could probably even get a anti-abortionists to sign it.

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to support the call by MP Dr Bob Spink and MP Nadine Dorries for an enquiry into a recent article in the Guardian newspaper. The said article discussed the evidence of John Wyatt to the recent select committee discussing abortion law reform and was clearly aimed at undermining the credibility of his evidence. We ask the Prime Minister to ensure that concerns raised by Dr Spink are fully investigated, specifically:
* How did the journalist (Ben Goldacre) gain detailed evidence of Prof Wyatt’s oral submission
* How did the journalist gain access to evidence Prof Wyatt submitted after his oral submission
* Did a member of the committee act as a ‘mole’ for Ben Goldacre and pass on this information by some clandestine means
* Whether this constituted a personal attack and a breach of parliamentary procedure”

OK – who is up for actually starting the petition?

NickConnolly said,
(November 1, 2007 at 9:23 am)

OK changed the wording a little – removed names (apparently not OK to name people). If they accept it it should be:
[mod: I’ve snipped this URL, as it’s unlikely to be functional/useful at this stage, as the next comment makes clear]

Ben Goldacre said,
(November 1, 2007 at 9:31 am)

far be it from me tt involved in my own xmas present but I think it should simply demand an enquiry into how I obtained the oral and writtwn evidence to the committee as suggested by spink and dorries. and mention me by name. to be really christmassy.

I’m sorry, but I’m laughing too hard to write up a coherent conclusion. This lesson is over. Class dismissed.

[Homework assignment: Follow the exchange from here and keep a general eye on Ben Goldacre’s blog for further developments.]

UPDATE – Ah, I see that’s she’s learned consistency from Iain Dale, too. Despite claiming that she’s not publishing any more comments, Nadine is now publishing comments of support. For extra credit in this course, see if you can sneak a comment that is dripping with sarcasm past moderation.

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