How will Nadine Dorries fare with the voters in 2015?

Forty five per cent of Tory voters say they are less likely to vote for her, but here's why she's likely to hang on.

Nadine Dorries last night became the first contestant to be voted off of I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here, but how will she fare with the public in 2015? A new survey by Lord Ashcroft, who is emerging as one of the country's most prolific pollsters, reveals much disquiet among her Bedfordshire constituents.

Fifty eight per cent, including 59 per cent of Conservative voters, disapproved of her decision to appear on the programme, compared to only 16 per cent who approved. Asked whether David Cameron was right to suspend her from the Conservative Party, 58 per cent, including 64 per cent of Tory voters, said he was. In addition, 44 per cent, including 45 per cent of Tory voters, said they were now less likely to vote for her. It doesn't follow, of course, that fewer will vote for her; only a small number of voters are likely to base their vote on Dorries's TV appearance, rather than, say, the economy. Indeed, a separate voting intention question found that support for the Tories had fallen by just two per cent since the general election to 51 per cent. Support for Labour, which finished third in the constituency in 2010, has risen by seven points to 22 per cent, while support for the Lib Dems, who finished second, has more than halved from 25 per cent to 12 per cent. Thus, with a Conservative lead of 29 per cent, Dorries is likely to be returned to parliament provided she can persuade the whips to let her back in the party.

Dorries's Bedfordshire constituents were asked to rank the following politicians on a scale of 0-10.

What is clear, however, is that her antics have significantly dented her popularity. Asked to say whether they have a positive or negative view of various politicians on a scale of 0-10 (see table), voters gave Dorries a score of just 2.82, compared to 3.48 for Nigel Farage, 3.95 for Ed Miliband, 4.02 for Nick Clegg, 6.13 for Boris Johnson, and, worst of all, 5.35 for that "arrogant posh boy" - David Cameron.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, who was voted out of ITV's I'm A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here last night.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty
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On the important issues, Louise Casey all too often has little to say

Far from moving the debate on, this new report on integration adds little to the report I commissioned in 2001. 

For 15 years, “numerous government reports on community cohesion and integration have not been implemented with enough force or consistency” concludes Louise Casey’s review of  integration.  The government’s lukewarm response suggests their effort will be as “diluted and muddled” as all the rest.

There’s a deeper reason why governments shy away from the measures that are needed. The report's wealth of data sets out a stark if sometimes contestable picture of a divided society.  But no amount of data can really bring the lives of our fellow citizens to life. As the Brexit vote underlined, this is now a nation divided by class, geography, education, wealth, opportunity and race. Those divisions colour the way we live our lives, the way we see problems in society, the relations we have with others, and our political choices. The report, like many before it, stops short of setting out that reality. It’s easier to pretend that most of us pretty much agree on most things; but just few people don’t agree and they must be the problem. Predictably, much of the early coverage has focussed on the Muslim community and new migrants. If only it were so easy.

According to Casey “in this country, we take poverty, social exclusion, social justice and social mobility seriously” and we do it “across political divides”. Apparently “creating a fair, just society where everyone can prosper and get on” is a cornerstone of British values. Yet for page after page the report chronicles the serial failure of this benign consensus to tackle educational under-performance, and economic and racial disadvantage. If we all agree, how come we haven't done anything about it?

These problems are not certainly easy to solve, but more lip service is paid to tackling them than effort. The practical material issues documented here need addressing, but punches are pulled when hard answers are needed. Given the dramatic impact of mass migration on cohesion, is integration possible while current rates of immigration persist? Can we find the political will to tackle poverty and disadvantage when those who might benefit from the effort are divided against each other by suspicion, race, geography and values? After all, rather than progressive policies producing a cohesive society, social unity is the precondition for the introduction of progressive policies.

We don't actually actually agree on what our “fundamental values” mean in practice. We can all sign up to democracy and the rule of law, but as soon as those are put into practice – see the court case on Article 50 – we are divided. When judges are popularly seen as “enemies of the people” and a vote in an elected parliament as a threat to democracy, in what sense are law and democracy fundamental?

Casey usefully highlights how treating homeless families equally, irrespective of ethnicity and length of residence can create the perception that minorities are being favoured over long standing residents. Our differing views on what is “just” and how “fairness” are defined can tear us apart. Is it fair to favour the newcomer over the indigenous? Is it just to put length of time on the waiting list above housing need? We often don't even acknowledge the legitimacy of other points of view, let alone try to find common ground.

The continual invocation of Britain and British values lends an air of unreality to the report.  Most people in England include British in their identity, but Englishness and English interests are of growing importance. In a worrying development, some areas of England  may be polarising between a white Englishness and an ethnic minority Britishness. Integration won't happen without a shared national story that combines a unifying national identity with the acceptance that we all have more than one identity that matters to us. Ignoring the reality of complex and multiple identities closes off one essential way forward.

None of this means that the criticism of some reactionary and occasionally dangerous ideas and practices in the Muslim community should be ignored and not confronted. But in a country where the established church opposes homosexual relationships and praise for Vladimir Putin's Russia is now mainstream politics it is hard to believe that all our problems can be reduced to the behaviour of a minority of a minority community.

John Denham was a Labour MP from 1992 to 2015, and a Secretary of State 2007 to 2010. He is Director of the Centre for English Identity and Politics at Winchester University