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Sunday 26 April 2009

The View Not from Zimbabwe

Stay with me on this – yes, it may look boring, but I’ve been checking up on the fallout from Smeargate (or Emailgate, Redraggate or McBridegate) to see how attempts to prolong the shelf life of this story are progressing – or not.

Apparently on the fringe of the whole business is expatriate Merseysider Nadine Dorries, Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire, who was the subject of one of Damian McBride’s emails. The contents of that email were, shall we say, unlikely to get out of the playground. Now it transpires that Ms Dorries has “instructed and proceeded with legal action” – the wording coming from her blog.

This has already generated a great deal of speculation as to what the action may be (or not), who may be sued, who may get called as witnesses, whether such an action would be a “no win, no fee” one, and whether or not it would even come to court.

One question that may inform all of this can be put directly: what kind of person is Nadine Dorries? What sort of view of the world does she, as an apparently politically upwardly mobile opposition back bencher, have? These questions are likely to be asked more and more: she’s tipped for ministerial rank in a Cameron government.

Ah well. On the first question I have to pass, being someone merely observing from a distance. But on the second, another look at that blog is informative. In case you need to have it pointed out, here’s the line that stands out:

“It’s beginning to feel more like Zimbabwe every day”

Hmmm. Here I start to feel a mood of, shall we say, mild exaggeration from Ms D. Perhaps Mid Bedfordshire and the Westminster village are scarier places than Crewe, because I didn’t experience any downtown Harare moments yesterday when out and about.

Walking over to Asda early afternoon, there were no empty shelves or hordes of punters without the means to pay for their food. The majority of folks are employed – rather than the other way about in Zimbabwe. For those of us picking up milk, bread and some pitted green olives – we Guardian reading subversives do like our antipasti – there was no prospect of street violence, police or paramilitary beating, and no power cuts and lack of clean water on returning home. Nor have I noticed any creeping censorship over the recent past, nor has anyone even tried to prevent my free movement around the town, the area, or the wider north west.

And there I will leave the thought hanging. But the Zimbabwe comparison is not the personal preserve of Nadine Dorries, and I’ll touch on it again later.

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