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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Who will win the Copeland by-election?

Labour face a tricky task in holding onto the seat. 

What’s the Copeland by-election about? That’s the question that will decide who wins it.

The Conservatives want it to be about the nuclear industry, which is the seat’s biggest employer, and Jeremy Corbyn’s long history of opposition to nuclear power.

Labour want it to be about the difficulties of the NHS in Cumbria in general and the future of West Cumberland Hospital in particular.

Who’s winning? Neither party is confident of victory but both sides think it will be close. That Theresa May has visited is a sign of the confidence in Conservative headquarters that, win or lose, Labour will not increase its majority from the six-point lead it held over the Conservatives in May 2015. (It’s always more instructive to talk about vote share rather than raw numbers, in by-elections in particular.)

But her visit may have been counterproductive. Yes, she is the most popular politician in Britain according to all the polls, but in visiting she has added fuel to the fire of Labour’s message that the Conservatives are keeping an anxious eye on the outcome.

Labour strategists feared that “the oxygen” would come out of the campaign if May used her visit to offer a guarantee about West Cumberland Hospital. Instead, she refused to answer, merely hyping up the issue further.

The party is nervous that opposition to Corbyn is going to supress turnout among their voters, but on the Conservative side, there is considerable irritation that May’s visit has made their task harder, too.

Voters know the difference between a by-election and a general election and my hunch is that people will get they can have a free hit on the health question without risking the future of the nuclear factory. That Corbyn has U-Turned on nuclear power only helps.

I said last week that if I knew what the local paper would look like between now and then I would be able to call the outcome. Today the West Cumbria News & Star leads with Downing Street’s refusal to answer questions about West Cumberland Hospital. All the signs favour Labour. 

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