Sunday, 31 May 2009

Nadine Dorries, the Daily Telegraph, the Barclay brothers and freedom of speech.

Nadine Dorries' main charm as far as this blog goes is I'm afraid an aesthetic one. I have little sympathy with her political views, and the perception of her as 'wacky' (as leaked from the Cameron inner circle) is not one I was entirely surprised by; it was not that long ago I described her as 'barking'. Nevertheless she has been more vocal than many coming out fighting against the way that the Daily Telegraph has been reporting on MPs' expenses, and suggesting with her inimitable almost surreal hyperbole that the newspaper's proprietors have their own political agenda in all this. She blogged her views (in terms that I find hard to believe anyone could take serious offence at) but has found herself on the receiving end of the attentions of the lawyers for the Telegraph and its owners, who persuaded her hosting company to take her blog down.

Given that the owners of the Daily Telegraph are those well-known supporters of democracy and tax payment Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, who not so long ago were demonstrating their commitment to free and fair elections on the island of Sark, some of her comments are less than surprising. And there's a certain irony to be found when a newspaper owned by a couple of tax exiles starts hammering MPs for tax avoidance.

At the moment, Nadine's blog has returned, presumably with a different hosting company, with rather basic graphics and sadly (if I'm allowed to say so) a less flattering photo, but with the contentious post now missing. Nadine's caution this time around is understandable given the legal threats she has received, but as always in the blogosphere such threats simply lend credence and publicity to content that most people would otherwise have taken with a considerable pinch of salt. The post that appears to have caused the Barclay Brothers such grave offence is still easily read from the Google cache (the post in question is that for the 21st May Winners or Losers? also appended below); much of it is the usual bonkers nonsense one normally associates with Nadine of course (she is regarded as a singular bête noire among left-wing bloggers) but what the lawyers seem to have missed here is that hardly anybody takes Nadine Dorries that seriously anyway, so what's all the fuss about? If the Daily Telegraph are happy to dole it out they should be happy to take it too.

There is useful information about the legal shenanigans behind all this over on Dizzy Thinks. Nadine Dorries may spout a lot of nonsense but she is not alone; the Barclay brothers and their legal representatives seem to be doing their best to match her.

Hopefully Nadine will repeat what she has already blogged under Parliamentary privilege when the MPs return on Monday so that these absurd legal threats are neutered in the way they deserve. And the sooner this country gets laws that provide some protection for freedom of speech and political comment outside the Palace of Westminster the better.

This is the post that caused such grievous offence; would you take it that seriously?

Winners or Losers?
Posted Thursday, 21 May 2009 at 17:04

Just park a couple of facts for a moment, which you may not agree with but are factual.
The first is that MPs have always been encouraged, by whatever means possible, to draw down their ACA allowance in full. This is because it was upped in place of an appropriate pay rise.

The rules surrounding the ACA were deliberately sloppy in order to maximise the opportunity that MPs had to draw.
This was always felt to be the safest political method to remunerate MPs, rather than face the media backlash of a pay rise.

Parliament is in chaos. The public are angry. The Telegraph has upped its circulation.
There are 650 members of Parliament. In any walk of life, in whatever profession, you will find people who are dishonest. It will always be thus as long as we are all human!

The Telegraph are uncovering a few cases of fraud, but not enough, so they are more than slightly embellishing some of the stories. I write as a case in point.

Enter the Barclay brothers, the billionaire owners of The Daily Telegraph.
Rumour is that they are fiercely Euro sceptic and do not feel that either of the main parties are Euro sceptic enough. They have set upon a deliberate course to destabilise Parliament, with the hope that the winners will be UKIP and BNP.

A quick online check of the Barclay brothers and their antics on the Island of Sark is enough to give this part of the rumour credence.

Another rumour is that the disc was never acquired and sold by an amateur, but it was in fact a long term undercover operation run by the Telegraph for some considerable time, carefully planned and executed; and that the stories of the naive disc nabber ringing the news desk in an attempt to sell the stolen information are entirely the work of gossip and fiction.

These rumours do have some credibility given that this has all erupted during the European Election Campaign and turn out is expected to be high with protest votes, courtesy of the Daily Telegraph, or should I say the Barclay brothers.

Now, if this is all a power game executed by the BBs, how would they do that?
It is a fact that these men are no fools and are in fact self-made billionaires.
I would imagine and believe that if any of this is true, they know the British psyche well enough to whip up a mood of public anger, hence the long running revelations in the DT.

Where do I get this from? Well, at heart I am just a cheeky scouser. I like to go into the rooms of the faceless and nameless in Parliament, sit on their desk and ask pertinent questions like: who are you? What do you do? I've made friends with one or two. One in particular I am very fond of. He is a mine of very astute information; and whilst in his office yesterday, we chunnered over the 'what is this all about?' question.

He reckons this is all a power game. That the British public are being worked like puppets by two very powerful men. Whipped up into a frenzy to achieve exactly what they want.

His very poignant words to me were "if any of this conjecture is true, Parliament will become full of racists, fantasists, and has-been celebrities. We will be rendered impotent and may never again regain the authority to withstand the pressure, opinion and whims of the overtly wealthy."

Scary stuff!

Somewhat predictably, and as a direct consequence of all the fuss, Nadine's rather silly post is already widely re-posted, more often than not by bloggers who wouldn't otherwise give her the time of day - Pub Philosopher, Dr Crippen over on NHS Blog Doctor - who gives a particularly good point-by-point rebuttal of Ms Dorries' arguments, Craig Murray (it's posted as a comment), and Mr Eugenides (ditto) among others; not one of these has the slightest sympathy with what Nadine says, only with the fact that she's been on the receiving end of some unpleasant and unnecessary bullying. Similarly here, indeed I think that the allegations about the motives of the Barclay brothers made by Nadine are total rubbish, and that it has been wholly for the good that the Telegraph has exposed so much self-centred financial cynicism and naked greed among those who purport to govern us.

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