Last Saturday, ConservativeHome held their optimistically titled Victory 2015 Conference. Behind the banner proclaiming “For Britain ... For Her People”, three MPs talked of how the Tories could appeal to working people. One of these was – yes, it’s her again – Mid Bedfordshire’s representative Nadine Dorries, whose speech was eagerly reported by Spectator editor Fraser Nelson.
Moreover, Ms Dorries in turn reported Nelson’s account on Twitter, so it must be assumed she regarded it as an accurate record of what she said. And at the very top of her remarks was “When she was growing up in Liverpool ... the city had eight Tory MPs and an all-Tory council”. Nadine Dorries was born in 1957. “Growing up” years would be, probably, from first political awareness to voting age.
So that might be mid-60s to mid-70s. Did Liverpool have such a strong Tory representation in those years? Well, let’s look at the Council first. Even in the 1930s, Labour took between a quarter and a third of seats. The party first came to power in the city before Ms Dorries was born – in 1955. They were in power until 1961, then from 1963 to 1967, and from 1972 to 1973.
Given the frequency of local elections – only part of the Council would be elected on each occasion – the idea that between the mid-60s and mid-70s it was at any time “all-Tory” is bullshit. And after 1973, the Council was ruled in turn by Labour and Liberals (later Lib Dems). So that means the fragrant Nadine is talking out of the back of her neck.
What of the “eight Tory MPs”, then? Well, once again those pesky facts are most reluctant to ride to her rescue. The constituency of Edge Hill was Labour from 1945 to 1979. Exchange and Scotland were Labour from 1945 to 1974, when they were merged into one (Labour) constituency, Scotland Exchange. So that’s at least two Labour MPs out of the City’s total.
The constituencies of Kirkdale, Toxteth, Walton and West Derby were Tory from 1945 to 1964, but were all captured by Labour in that year’s General Election. So what was left? Just two constituencies, Garston and Wavertree, which remained Tory strongholds until 1974 and 1983 respectively. At no point in Ms Dorries’ lifetime did Liverpool have “eight Tory MPs”.
So it’s clear that the fragrant Nadine’s trousers are well and truly alight. And what is worse, Spectator editor Fraser Nelson has clearly taken her at her word, without subjecting her remarks to the most rudimentary fact check.
Whether the dishonesty of speech, or that of reporting, is the worse I will leave to others to decide.