YOU may have noticed the recent heavy promotion for former Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries’s book The Plot: The Political Assassination of Boris Johnson.
What little I know about the book gives me no incentive to read it, especially after publisher George Owers, who says he received a proposal for the book, noted that ‘according to Dorries, Boris is basically the reincarnation of Nelson Mandela crossed with Jesus Christ & anything that went wrong for him was an evil plot masterminded by Michael Gove’. This is a sentiment backed up by some of the reviews.
But Dorries’s self-indulgence and miscalculation is not limited to the release of this book, and this may be the least of it, given her long time in the political spotlight. It encapsulates her career in the public eye, and should probably teach conservatives to be cautious about picking our champions.
There’s the obvious self-promotion and attention-seeking, even when it is at the expense of her role and the undermining of the stature as a Parliamentarian. This was most blatantly displayed by her appearance on I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here, which between her eating creepy crawlies and her various clashes with D-list soap stars, probably gave her constituents a sense of embarrassment not seen since the voters of Bow and Bethnal Green had to witness their MP ‘be the cat’ on Celebrity Big Brother.
There’s her behaviour to those reporting her role in the 2009 expenses scandal, which included accusing the Daily Telegraph of conducting a ‘McCarthy-style witch hunt’ and threatening a reporter with explicit violence. And of course, there’s her current media circus, reaching its nadir in a cringe-making interview with Johnson himself.
Beyond the frivolities, she has also got many of the big calls wrong, to the point of embarrassment.
This was most notably seen during the lockdown period, when she was one of the noisiest advocates in Johnson’s cabinet for permanent shutdown. This went to the point in April 2020 where she wanted journalists to ‘stop asking about an exit strategy’ because it wouldn’t be possible until a vaccine was available. Such an attitude was so explicit that she resorted to praising the corrupt World Health Organisation and bashing those concerned about increased suicides. This level of support meant that she simultaneously attacked pro-lockdown Piers Morgan for being too strict and anti-lockdown Kathy Gyngell for daring to compare the measures to communism and neglecting the majority while not caring about ‘keeping people alive and safe’. It’s telling as to how much she wants to play to her current audience, who are more sceptical of lockdowns, that she blames Gove and Dominic Cummings as opposed to Johnson (and presumably herself for that matter).
This lack of shame led to her to endorse other bad ideas, most notably Net Zero. In a hysterical tweet, she felt that Rishi Sunak would be wrong to not to go to COP27 in 2022 on the grounds that ‘Global warming is the biggest crisis facing our planet and net zero creates many 1000s of jobs which is good for the economy.’ (Sunak subsequently reversed his decision – perhaps he read her tweet.)
Her actions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine were disgraceful. As a Chelsea fan, it was rather infuriating seeing her as Culture Secretary steal my football club from its owner Roman Abramovich due to his tenuous links to Vladmir Putin, even admitting it would cause the club ‘uncertainty’. Tellingly, she didn’t intervene a couple of months earlier when Newcastle United was bought by a company directly owned by Mohammed Bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, a country with a dubious human rights record to say the least.
At least none of those were policies directed by her, unlike her egregious pushing of the Online Safety Bill, which critics including TCW rightly warn is an Orwellian clampdown on freedom of speech online. This advocacy, which culminated in an extraordinary TikTok video, consisted of gaslighting to the extreme while clashing with other MPs about the content of a Bill she was happy to promote, but not necessarily to read the small print of.
There are some admittedly some good elements of her character. Being a Brexiteer, somewhat socially conservative on big questions and a genuine working-class representative in a party that desperately needs them are no bad things. But the good is definitely outweighed by the bad. Case in point, I attended a political conference during my sixth-form days in 2014 where she was one of the speakers. When asked about why she voted against gay marriage, she argued that it didn’t go far enough. So much for social conservatism.
In short, she is a terrible Tory, and good riddance to her. The constituents of Mid Bedfordshire agreed when she went rogue for months after promising to step down, which may go some way to explaining the Labour victory there.
As a fellow Tory, I would politely request that she does us all a favour and please go away, for the sake of the health of the body politick and our collective sanity.