Really, Nadine?

So Nadine Dorries has yet again reached new heights of hypocrisy.

The Conservative – I’m sorry, independent – MP for Mid Bedfordshire, who was suspended from the Conservative Party on November 6th as a result of her decision to take part in the reality TV show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! (lasting a week and making her entire joyride away from Parliament a brazen insult to everyone everywhere who would give anything to take an extended holiday for no reason without getting fired), has accused fellow Conservative – ha, there I go again…silly me – Louise Mensch “trying to diminish her role as an MP”! Ha!

Wait, wait – it gets better!

Ms Dorries, who has been suspended from the Tory party for going on I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! without telling the chief whip in November, told Metro quitting politics to follow fashion sets a bad example to young people.
‘You sign up for five years as an MP. It is unheard of for someone to walk away from their post halfway through to do something as trivial as this,’ she said.

*snorts derisively*

It’s fairly clear that there may have been bad blood between them before. Despite affirming that she wasn’t “singing [Dorries] out”, Mensch accused otherwise nameless would-be supporters of an amendment – tabled by our jungle-roving hypocrite herself – to the Health and Social Care Bill in 2011 of tending to “demonise” the women considering abortion whom it would have required to receive independent counselling. A post-Parliamentarian Mensch was also one of the more vocal critics of Dorries’ foray into the forests, saying:

Nothing sadder than a politician, or ex-politician, on any of those shows […] Just imagining the scene in the whips’ office if I said I wanted to skip parliament for weeks to go on a celebrity TV show.

I sense this only getting uglier.

Even though Mensch’s departure from her Corby constituency seat in 2012 did herald a crushing win for Labour, the contrast between Nadine Dorries’ relationship with the Conservative Party given behaviour over the past few months and those of Louise Mensch is palpable. Dorries, no stranger to the ugly spotlight of an expenses inquisition on more than one occasion (for travel expenses in 2011 and 2012, no less), has squawked derision at Mensch for quitting her post back in August. The brazenness of this wild, gasping thrash for credibility astounds and slightly horrifies me, when exactly two months later – and mere days after the Corby by-election – she herself jetted off to the Australian bush to eat goat testicles and fantasise that people would find her interesting.

Because she’s not well liked in her own party, either. Dorries has always seemed the whiny rebel that no one seems to like or take seriously, in fact actively going out of her way to made her own party hierarchy dislike her and making the most asinine comments and decisions at every turn. Mensch, by comparison, was lauded as a rising star in the Cameronite ranks who (despite her ‘defection’ in the Blair honeymoon following a Thatcher funereal procession) retained a fierce grip on the party whip.

She showed shrewdness early on in her political era by expressing the freedom to change political parties when she no longer agreed with their politics. If Wikipedia can be trusted, a growing disaffection with the Church of England was a contributing factor in her decision to join the Labour Party, but in any case it was a disaffection with an out-of-touch Conservative party as well as her take on Blair as “a social liberal and an economic conservative” that convinced her to join. It may have only lasted a year, but in doing so Mensch proved that she wasn’t afraid to adapt to changing circumstance.

She criticised a pointless and expensive waste of Parliamentary time and mandate – the ban on fox hunting – for what it was, citing an irrefutable argument for civil liberties as opposed to the usual useless traditionalism diatribe of the 1922 Committee.

Finally, Mensch had the decency to resign when no longer able to function effectively in her capacity as MP. Not that she ever gave any indication that she’d become a veteran MP, still wandering the halls of Westminster well into her seventies, dispensing advice to young whippersnappers who never even knew Thatcher. A year into her job she already identified problems fighting to keep her seat even once, come 2015:

I haven’t made up my mind […] If I were a single woman with no attachments, I would be fully committed, but I’m not.

D’you know what, Louise? Maybe it’s not for everyone, but I could’ve taken it off your hands; no problem. I lived in Oundle for the full five years once, and I rather liked it there.



What’s the worst that could happen?

So, Dave decided to take the leap.

He’s not getting remarried or anything, although he certainly seems to have divorced himself from his stance from late last year, that giving the British public an in/out vote on Europe was a “false choice”…whatever that is supposed to mean.

After all that, the gauntlet has been thrown. Seemingly emboldened by Holyrood’s acceptance of terms for the Scottish independence referendum set for 2014 (either that, or he is simply taking the only – albeit short-term – face-saving measure left to him by an increasingly belligerent UKIP and ever-audacious backbench Arch-Tories and assorted Eurosceptics) Cameron has decided that now is the time to declare the referendum. Oh wait, no … that’s 2017. IF re-elected. IF he remains Prime Minister. IF otherwise unforeseeable events don’t cause him to Clegg it and issue a retraction with a brief apology over untenable promises…again.

But surely a final referendum is a good thing? Yes…in theory. I’m not saying I think an EU referendum would see as poor a turnout as for A/V (although with voter apathy in the UK still leading the flock of the European disaffected [statistic], who knows). It is, however, in plebiscites such as this that the fringes mobilise. UKIP, a single-interest-group-cum-political-party, was founded with the sole purpose of seeing the UK government put such a referendum to the British people (and it ending in their favour, I am assuming).

Naturally, therefore, UKIP can already chalk this up as an initial win. Eurosceptic-in-Chief Nigel Farage said of Cameron’s decision: “The very fact that we are talking about the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union is Ukip’s biggest victory to date. Even five years ago the thought of this issue being even discussed was an anathema”.

“But what is the worst that could happen?” I was asked the other day. Well, what happens if Scotland opts for independence? The squabbling that would inevitably ensue over who gets what (oil, debt, assets, the family pet, etc.) would last well into 2015 and surely affect the outcome of a general election. Given that all three major parties (I’m giving the Lib Dems the benefit of the doubt here, even if their approval rating places them on a par with UKIP) in Westminster are supporting union, I would find it very hard to believe any of them scoring political points from Scottish secession.

Who would? Reactionary, nationalist, protectionist, conveniently I-told-you-so UKIP. (Or would that be EWIP by that point?) Then what will Dave do?

  1. Chicken out on his pledge for a second referendum? Half of the Conservative grass roots vote UKIP.
  2. Insist on the referendum and bring the issue front and centre? Conservatives look weak next to UKIP, who will still benefit.
  3. Conveniently let the issue fall by the wayside and not bring it up? Every other party will, especially UKIP.

So, however Cam spins it, a lost Scottish vote will cripple him and his party right before the election, and the only benefactors (south of the Wall, at least) will be the far right.

In, out, or shake it all about?

‘Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, [David Cameron] said voters would be offered “real choice” on this at the next election.’

There’s something I’d like to see, but I won’t hold my breath.

As I have said before, I am extremely sceptical of any political party offering any modicum of “real choice”. Whilst he was at pains to keep his hand concealed on the subject of a possible referendum on EU membership before 2015, the Prime Minister did say that ‘any vote would happen within five years.’

There was no mention of what form this officially-sanctioned Question would take, nor was there any clear indication as to whether he’d wait until the Government has prevaricated over how to secure some token concessions on sovereignty from Brussels before that would happen. Instead he focussed his energies on defending Britain’s right to be truculent.

It’s an interesting rhetorical trick that Dave uses in this interview, as it neatly glosses over a glaring logical inconsistency. He starts by listing sub-treaties to which the UK does not subscribe, such as the Eurozone and Schengen, and infers an “opt-in” approach to international legislation, which (he implies but deftly avoids stating) gives the UK a certain licence to cherry-pick its own way through the European buffet.

Both the Eurozone and Schengen agreements are opt-in (at least as far as the UK is concerned; let’s not discuss countries applying for EU membership just yet). The UK chooses not to be a part of either, yet by being a member of the EU and ratifying its various treaties it agrees to suffer any potential fallout – be it from common market economic ties or the free movement of the European labour force.

Cameron alleges that the Eurozone states have “got to change [their internal economic policies in an externally concerted effort] to make their currency work” but that this changes “the nature of the organisation to which we belong.” This is like saying that changing (for example) Dutch citizenship eligibility will affect UK immigration beyond our control. In an indirect way, both of these statements may be true, but this nonetheless makes Cameron’s distinction void. The choice in either case is “lump it or leave”, as with many other consequences of treaties we have signed in order to be the constituent member that Cameron so readily champions.

But not opting into Schengen and the Euro enables us to control our own interest rates and external immigration policies, right? So why should we be necessarily tied down on other issues? Because, Dave, these are subsequent undertakings not explicitly covered by the various binding European treaties like Maastricht and Rome that we signed.

Cameron fishing

If we use this premise as a precedent to unpick the unfavourable aspects that happen to underpin the entire European initiative, like the free movement of peoples, or common fisheries policy, why not rethink other treaties? We could rethink the Treaty of Amiens, put the fleur-de-lis back on our royal standard and reclaim northern France! We could decide that too many people are voting the wrong way and revoke universal suffrage!

Yes, I agree; it starts to get a little bit silly, really. And people wonder why other European states see the Coalition as the political equivalent of a petulant three-year-old in a tantrum.


Disclaimer: This blog is for the disaffected liberal.

To put the following posts into a comprehensible context: I am a twenty-five-year-old liberal Humanist with an MSc in international politics, who has long felt ostracised by the petty rivalries and lack of choice in the 2¼-party system that we have in the UK. Educated in an environment largely saturated with theocentric Tory ideals, I quickly realised that its value system was in no way my own and have progressively shifted leftwards. I have been trying for more than a year to find gainful employment in Westminster Village and have decided to publish my various frustrations with occurring events for all to see.

Right from the outset, I will make no apology for my political views. I feel (as most typically do of their own) that they are valid, and that our system has serious, inherent, chronic flaws if someone as moderate (albeit vocal) as I feels unrepresented. After all: what is the political Holy Grail, if not securing consensus in the centre ground through informed debate?

Those on the fringes (those with views too left- or right-wing for any self-respecting representative with viable career aspirations to get near) will have to look elsewhere. Because this is a blog for the disaffected, but not the extreme. This is a blog to see if there are any others out there who feel like they fall through the ideological cracks over which our system blithely paves, whose views are not effectively represented by any political party, and who face the choice between ‘supporting’ a party whose actions become difficult to justify or disenfranchisement, apathy, and a lonely, empty ballot paper.

To me, Liberalism means abandoning preconceived judgements of others (especially those mandated by self-aggrandising, external moral authorities); reacting to linguistic and cultural distinctiveness, not with fear, but profound interest and a willingness to learn; and taking pride in holding lofty aspirations for change. New discoveries in technology and methods of communication are opening up vast swathes of new possibilities for development in an inordinate range of areas: from political participation to healthcare, civil rights to educational practices, environmental protection to infrastructure, the potential for bettering ourselves and the world in which we live is growing at an exponential rate.

The past few years have seen some wonderfully progressive steps undertaken by various governments, as well as some woefully anachronistic reactionary politics, dredged from the barrel-bottom of respective conservative arsenals in times of crisis. Because the world can be a scary place, true. But by the same token, that which is alien is not always fear inducing; differences (in language, culture, politics, values, traditions) can also be awe-inspiringly fascinating.

My aim in this blog is to share my thoughts on political issues as they arise, predominantly in the UK, and promote a firebrand liberal vision of the way in which the country should be going. Agree with an article? Disagree? Feel like a disaffected liberal yourself? Comment.