Monday 28 August 2023

The Entitled End of Nadine Dorries

The big top is taken down. The face paints are in their cases, the costumes stored in the wardrobes, and the clown car is parked in its berth. Yes friends, Nadine Dorries has finally announced her resignation from the Commons three months after saying she was stepping down with immediate effect. She won't be missed. In her person, Dorries condensed all that was small-minded, entitled, and bitter about the Conservative Party base. Her efforts at trying to privatise Channel 4 showcased her lazy ignorance and unsuitability for high office, just as her 12 month tantrum of not attending the Commons showed an evident incapacity to acquit the basics. No wonder she got on so well with Boris Johnson. Dorries's whingeing about not getting a peerage because she's "working class" is also dishonest rubbish. She has not had a working class occupation since the early 1980s, having spent the last 40 years swanning around as a business owner, a director, a spinner, a "celebrity", an author of 16 books, and a part-time parliamentarian. Rejecting her pleas for ermine robes is probably the only decent thing Rishi Sunak has done as Prime Minister.

Ah yes, Sunak. Readers might recall that Dorries is not a fan of inherited privilege, having previously dubbed the Dave and Osborne double act as "two arrogant posh boys" who had no idea of what life was like beyond Westminster. As a social climber, how it must have irked Dorries for the party's leadership to simply fall into Sunak's lap (though, given who her political hero is, her anger at unearned reward is somewhat selective). Indeed, her resignation letter - bought and paid for by the Daily Mail - is a long, boring, self-aggrandising diatribe that nevertheless makes some telling criticisms of his premiership. She talks about his heading a "zombie government" that hasn't achieved anything. Changes to social care, Johnson's much-boostered levelling up promises, commitments to net zero, and mental health reform - all abandoned. Sunak also raised corporation tax, has made zero progress on Northern Ireland despite giving the EU everything it wanted, and migration refuses to go down. He's failing as a Conservative as well as a Prime Minister.

Dorries does make an unanswerable point. For all their hideous, anti-working class politics, her faction did and do offer a coherent strategy for the Tories. Not one that would win an election or arrest the Tories' long-term decline, but recognises that to stand a chance they have to offer something. "Levelling up" was exactly that - a redistribution of the state as a means of driving growth in Britain's depressed regions. However, it says a great deal about how seriously Johnson took it that as weak a chancellor as Sunak - the man he hand-picked for the role, after all - could derail it. The failings of her team doesn't stop lambasting Sunak for his poor stewardship, rightly criticising him for doing absolutely nothing. We're also led to believe that the Prime Minister has been orchestrating attacks on Dorries, which have apparently placed her in danger. Of course.

This much delayed resignation has attracted supporters and critics. As ever, John Redwood popped up to recommend that swerving back to a traditional tax cutting agenda will win over the voters (it won't). Others supportive of briefcase Toryism put the boot into Dorries, calling her "an embarrassment" and "pretty useless". Indeed, for them she typifies the Johnson circus and would much rather forget about it, except when it comes to stealing his anti-immigration and war-on-woke politics. Room can always be found for them. But as judgements on Dorries's performance as an MP and a minister go, they will find no argument in these parts. Unfortunately, it's not likely Dorries is about to disappear down the memory hole. Six more books to come, including her "expose" of Tory dirty tricks against her and Johnson, and shows on GB News plus guest columns in the right wing press. We're seeing the back of her without seeing the back of her.

Ultimately, what the politics of Dorries's resignation shows is how the Tories are strategically blocked. There is no way of avoiding the juggernaut grinding its way toward them. And with Sunak committed to a politics of doing nothing, it's hardly surprising the Conservatives aren't heading anywhere except in the direction of defeat.

Image Credit


John said...

Another unedifying aspect of her resignation letter is the way certain Labour MPs have gleefully pointed out how her criticisms of Sunak enhance Labour's prospects. Having conveniently forgotten that they indulged in similar behaviour a few years ago and now they tell us how damaging it is for an MP to attack the party leader.

Blissex said...

«John Redwood popped up to recommend that swerving back to a traditional tax cutting agenda will win over the voters (it won't)»

Well, it depends: it might help stop some people switching to abstention, improve the turnout.

But no tax cut can compete in size with property gains, which are often nowadays £30,000-50,000 per year for people paying £15,000-£25,000 a year in income tax.

A lot of people in the pushed behind areas and even apparently in this comment section do not seem able to understand just how vital are property profits (capital gains and received or imputed rent) are to tory voters (and to MPs of all three major parties), either via remortgaging or via not saving a penny because the tenant or the next buyer are saving for them.
“Certainly, we overstretched ourselves when we bought our lovely period home for £419,000 in 2002. But with mortgage companies practically throwing loans at us in a rising property market, we slept soundly at night, smug in the knowledge the house was making us money. [...] The valuer had barely been in the house for five minutes yet we were able to borrow a further £80,000. [...] We were lulled into a false sense of security about our wealth. Whenever we overspent we just remortgaged without comprehending the consequences of taking yet more equity out of the property. [...] In our defence, we weren’t spending the money on expensive designer clothes, luxurious holidays or flash cars. Much of it was going on school fees and upkeep of the house. By the beginning of 2008 we had remortgaged three times”

Without the easy spending of all that cash redistributed from "losers" (or minted as loans by the banks) "the economy" would not be so good:
“Under Thatcher, this exploded to over £250bn across her premiership – a staggering 104% of GDP growth. [...] But Blair did his homework and let loose – as did Thatcher – a wave of cheap credit, financial deregulation, house price inflation and an equity withdrawal-led consumption boom. Withdrawals under Blair’s leadership totalled around £365bn, that’s a full 103% of GDP growth over the same period”

Blissex said...

«the way certain Labour MPs have gleefully pointed out how her criticisms of Sunak enhance Labour's prospects. Having conveniently forgotten that they indulged in similar behaviour a few years ago and now they tell us how damaging it is for an MP to attack the party leader»

But for them I guess that there is a big difference: Sunak is one of their own, a loyal globalist thatcherite, even if of a different flavour and clique than theirs, but Corbyn was a "f*cking racist and antisemite" and a "trot" and thus a vile threat to what benefits the upper-middle and upper classes. Besides it seems to me that for them Corbyn and his supporters were just Labour entrysts who had infiltrated the New Labour party and they stole it for 4 long years from Mandelson and Blair.

Anonymous said...

'Gleeful' Labour types are also overlooking how Dorries says that Starmer is equally useless and uncharisimatic as Sunak.

Anonymous said...

But you would expect a Tory to say that, no?

Does diminish its shock value just a bit, at least.