Sister Dorries and the labour camp

Finally is it possible to work out the real agenda of David Cameron's Conservatives?

I commend to you the blog of Tory MP and friend of the Fundies (that's Christian Fundamentalists in case you didn't know) Nadine Dorries.

Have a good read and then contrast and compare the way her party leader, Lexus Dave Cameron, tries to pass himself off. You now know the form: no more laughing at the poor. No more scapegoating the single mothers. The caring wrinkling of the brow to indicate principled stands over the 42 days...

'Ok,' you cry, 'but he's a sort of walking policy vacuum. No-one knows what he might do when in power.' Well I wonder if we can infer the real agenda of the Mod Cons from Sister Dorries's blog.

But more than that it's worth reading for its pure unbridled silliness.

For example on Giles 'whoops a daisy' Chichester MEP - who quit his role as leader of the Tories in Brussels after admitting breaking expenses rules: i.e. paying thousands of pounds in staff allowances to a firm of which he is a paid director.

Here goes our Nadine: "The frenzied attack against Conservative MPs and MEPs, orchestrated by and emanating from the left wing BBC and press has equalled that of an animal in its death throes. The more terminal the position looks for Labour, the more desperate the BBC and the left wing press become."

Hmmm. Tell that to Conservative Central Office hanger on turned BBC political editor Nick Robinson.

But it gets even better.

Here she is on law and order - perhaps not so far in her thinking from David 'death penalty' Davis...

"I believe strongly that we should have County Sheriffs to replace Chief Constables, that they should be voted for and elected by the people, and therefore fully accountable to the people.

Which Sheriff of Bedfordshire would go back to the people for re-election having presided over rising crime?

One sure way to make sure your police force works is to make the top job dependent upon results: a performance related position.

A friend sent me this:

"Sheriff Joe Arpaio created the 'tent city jail' to save Arizona from spending tens of millions of dollars on another expensive prison complex.

He has jail meals down to 20 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.

He banned smoking and pornographic magazines in the jails, and took away their weightlifting equipment and cut off all but 'G' movies. He says: 'They're in jail to pay a debt to society not to build muscles so they can assault innocent people when the leave.'

He started chain gangs to use the inmates to do free work on county and city projects and save taxpayers' money.

Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn't get sued for discrimination.""

She goes on (and on as a matter of fact) quoting about the pink uniforms, the searing heat, the forced viewing of Newt Gingrich's history of America - cruel and unusual punishment in my book and, no doubt, in his.

Of course the soft-heared pro-lifer doesn't agree with all of it - oh no. But then she doesn't say which aspects of this American gulag she would leave out.

Must be lovely to be punctilious in your observance of the law which made me wonder if Sister Dorries has copyright permission to reproduce all those photos of inmates. Perhaps she'll let us know.

Moving on.

I was watching some TV the other day and had the misfortune of happening across my own personal version of hell. You'll be familiar with the fabulous Sartre play No Exit or Huis Clos. People lumped in a room together for eternity - hell is other people and all that.

Well this is mine. Stuck in front of an hour-long edition of Eastenders followed by the Apprentice final.

Ben Davies trained as a journalist after taking most of the 1990s off. Prior to joining the New Statesman he spent five years working as a politics reporter for the BBC News website. He lives in North London.
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Can Philip Hammond save the Conservatives from public anger at their DUP deal?

The Chancellor has the wriggle room to get close to the DUP's spending increase – but emotion matters more than facts in politics.

The magic money tree exists, and it is growing in Northern Ireland. That’s the attack line that Labour will throw at Theresa May in the wake of her £1bn deal with the DUP to keep her party in office.

It’s worth noting that while £1bn is a big deal in terms of Northern Ireland’s budget – just a touch under £10bn in 2016/17 – as far as the total expenditure of the British government goes, it’s peanuts.

The British government spent £778bn last year – we’re talking about spending an amount of money in Northern Ireland over the course of two years that the NHS loses in pen theft over the course of one in England. To match the increase in relative terms, you’d be looking at a £35bn increase in spending.

But, of course, political arguments are about gut instinct rather than actual numbers. The perception that the streets of Antrim are being paved by gold while the public realm in England, Scotland and Wales falls into disrepair is a real danger to the Conservatives.

But the good news for them is that last year Philip Hammond tweaked his targets to give himself greater headroom in case of a Brexit shock. Now the Tories have experienced a shock of a different kind – a Corbyn shock. That shock was partly due to the Labour leader’s good campaign and May’s bad campaign, but it was also powered by anger at cuts to schools and anger among NHS workers at Jeremy Hunt’s stewardship of the NHS. Conservative MPs have already made it clear to May that the party must not go to the country again while defending cuts to school spending.

Hammond can get to slightly under that £35bn and still stick to his targets. That will mean that the DUP still get to rave about their higher-than-average increase, while avoiding another election in which cuts to schools are front-and-centre. But whether that deprives Labour of their “cuts for you, but not for them” attack line is another question entirely. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.

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