Smeargate: the incredible account of Nadine Dorries

This entry was posted on
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009
10:00 pm and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Iain Dale wasn’t the only person making claims that he could not back with evidence during ‘smeargate’.

Take a look at this partial transcript from Nadine Dorries being interviewed live on Sunrise (SKY News) by Mark Longhurst; this went out at 0906 on 13 April… two days after 11 April, when Iain Dale submitted to the Mail on Sunday a false claim about Tom Watson being CCed on the ‘smeargate’ emails, and claims he found out too late to stop it from going to print:

[The bold highlights are mine. The spotter was Prodicus (hat tip, sir). SKY News advise me that selected soundbites from this interview were rebroadcast throughout the day, but didn’t appear in the later Niall Paterson report from about 2200 on.]

Mark Longhurst: What’s your reaction to what Alan Johnson’s just said?

Nadine Dorries: When you have a surgeon he doesn’t remove part of a tumour, he removes the entire tumour. What we have at the heart of Downing Street is a cancer. We had Damian McBride and next to Damian McBride Tom Watson. And Damian McBride reported directly to the prime minister and took his instructions from the prime minister. An employer is ultimately responsible for the actions of his employee and I think it’s not enough for the prime minister to say Damian McBride has gone. We have the cabinet minister Tom Watson desk to desk with Damian McBride and we had the prime minister who is the boss who issued the instructions. These people worked in one office at the heart of Downing Street. The prime minister has to apologise and he has to take more steps to remove this cancer in the prime minister’s office.

Mark Longhurst: So you don’t accept what the prime minister said that no one else in Downing St had knowledge of these emails?

Nadine Dorries: I know that not to be true. We have the cabinet minister who issued a statement yesterday which left more questions than it answered in the statement. Tom Watson’s desk was right next to McBride’s. I believe he was even mentioned discussing the emails with McBride.

Further on, she had this to say… note that she bases her claims on unsubstantiated claims that she claims were made by other people:

Mark Longhurst: Why were you targeted.. what threat did you think you posed to them?

Nadine Dorries: I’ve no idea. I run a blog, I’m a backbench Conservative MP, I’m female… I’ve no idea.

Mark Longhurst: Is it because you run a blog?

Nadine Dorries: Possibly. I have had emails which have said Downing St are not impressed with some of the things I’ve said about the prime minister on my blog. I can understand that – he is the prime minister of the Labour party and I’m the backbench MP of the Conservative party. That in itself displays a level of control freakery which is quite alarming.

That in itself displays something far more alarming than control freakery (alleged or otherwise).

Nadine Dorries might be able to explain away a little of this as rhetoric, but there are specific claims within her statement that she cannot back with evidence… so how does she get away with making claims like this on live television?

Answer: She had momentum and what was widely seen to be unassailable moral authority on her side at the time.

I don’t think it’s unfair to say that she might have taken unfair advantage of that, possibly to the extent of smearing others while enjoying the role of the innocent victim of smears… and/or that she may have fallen victim to self-important (and self-righteous) fantasies while in the media spotlight.

So… here’s the big question that will decide which of the two should get it in the neck for this one:

– What did Iain Dale tell Nadine Dorries and when did he tell her?

Plus, here are some bonus questions for those who are worried about other stuff that may have whooshed by during the excitement of ‘smeargate’:

– Who is the source of these claims about emails which have said “Downing St are not impressed” with some of the things Nadine Dorries has said about the PM on her not-a-blog? Is it the same single source that led Iain Dale to make false claims about Tom Watson? Or is Nadine Dorries merely confused, and imagining that these emails/claims exist?

– If there is a single source, is it Paul Staines (aka ‘Guido Fawkes’), who has yet to produce the killer document he promised on live television months ago proving a Downing Street led conspiracy against Iain Dale specifically?

(No, Iain; this is not the same. Your catch is smaller than your bait. Try again.)

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