When all his usual hacks have pronounced and gained no traction whatsoever, the legendarily foul mouthed Paul Dacre always has one name he can summon to the front place on the cab rank to do his bidding in her own inimitable style: step forward the true voice of paranoid politics Melanie Phillips, proving again today that she is not just Barking, but halfway to Upminster.
Dacre still appears to believe that he can bend enough politicians to his will to give the NHS Bill amendments of Frank Field and Nadine Dorries a chance of passing in the Commons, so Mad Mel has been pressed into action. And straight away she plays the classic attribute transfer ploy: her opponents get called the kind of names that apply more properly to her. Like zealots.
This is then mixed with misinterpretation, so we are told the amendments “looked set to sail through the Commons on a wave of general approval”, instead of that wave being one of ignorance mixed with misleading propaganda. Then the demons are identified: it’s the dastardly “Guardian/BBC agenda”, and “this demonstrates ... the power of ... campaigns of instantaneous demonisation”.
The latter, no doubt, was typed out while holding a straight face: “instantaneous demonisation” is the Daily Mail in one. And the accuracy of Mel’s figures is as shaky as ever: her assertion of “last year ... more than 200,000 terminations in England and Wales” can be dispelled by a few minutes’ Googling. The correct figure is just under 190,000 – so why keep trying to con the readers?
But this is merely a sideshow: Phillips’ main purpose is to throw her support behind the person she identifies as the victim of this alleged “demonisation”, and that victim is Nadine Dorries, who is supposedly the recipient of “abuse”, “hate mail” and “death threats”. None of these is remotely acceptable, but the real reason for Dorries attracting so much criticism seems to have evaded Mel.
Because the reason Dorries is drawing so much fire right now is not because she is trying to “uphold a socially conservative position”, nor that she would like to see less abortions taking place. It is nothing to do with “zealotry”. It is not “opposition to thinking independently”. Nobody is trying to “shut down the debate” (a talking point beloved of Fox News Channel (fair and balanced my arse)).
No, the reason Nadine Dorries is getting so much stick is that she has shown herself to be serially dishonest, spiteful and nasty with it. Whatever criticism there has been of her, she has in the main brought in on herself. Those who live by the sword are, as ever, more than likely to perish by the sword. Melanie Phillips is ranting ineffectually and the debate has moved on.