Tory MP for Mid Bedfordshire (yes, it’s her again) Nadine Dorries has not taken the latest criticism of her at all well: after the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards decided to pursue a complaint made over the alleged non-disclosure of her fee for appearing on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, she threatened to sue the humourless Matthew Sinclair of the so-called Taxpayers’ Alliance (TPA).
Leaving aside that the TPA’s chief non-job holder is the last person to lecture anyone on transparency, and that Sinclair and Ms Dorries having a fur fight would, for many, be another Hamilton versus Fayed – if only they could both lose – this latest episode in the Parliamentary saga of the fragrant Nadine raises more questions about not just openness, but of fitness for office.
Instead of merely acknowledging the complaint and leaving it at that, Ms Dorries has demonstrated the soundness of Olbermann’s dictum (“The right exists in a perpetual state of victimhood”) by asserting “If I haven't declared anything, it's because I haven't earned anything. I must be the most hounded MP in parliament”. An enquiry from the Commissioner for Standards is hardly “hounding”.
But this talent for playing the victim is not a new one, as witness Ms Dorries’ carping at the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) for revealing that it was investigating her over her expenses. She also made no small fuss in the run-up to the last General Election about “stalkers”, of which she claimed to have four, but in the event, there were none.
All of that, were I working in the Tory Party whips’ office, would concern me. It should concern the local Party organisation. MPs receive criticism; it goes with the territory. For someone in that position to default to such a loudly defensive posture so easily is something that should concern the whole of her electorate. But the local Party is unlikely to do other than continue to support Ms Dorries.
Why this should be was demonstrated by Unity at Ministry Of Truth recently: Ms Dorries’ constituency house is owned by former local Tory chairman Andy Rayment. The limited company – Averbrook – which she suggests has received the fee for her jungle jaunt has two directors: her and Rayment (that, of course, is all legal and what interest Rayment has in Averbrook is his business).
And while it would make for excellent spectator sport if Ms Dorries were to fall out with the TPA, it would not be good for the retention of what should be a safe Tory seat come 2015. It is almost as if she is unable to grasp the implications of her behaviour, that she perhaps imagines herself to be beyond that criticism that other politicians accept and learn to deal with.
The impression is certainly given that she is protesting too much, and too loudly.