The Blog of
Nadine Dorries
What Stephan said and Martin Bell knew
Posted Friday, 22 May 2009 at 10:22
During an interview on the R4 Today programme (and about a dozen times since) I said the following - ish:

" No Prime Minister has ever had the political courage to award MPs an appropriate level of pay commensurate with their experience, qualifications and position; as recommended by the SSRB, year after year.

 Prior to my intake in 2005, MPs were sat down by the establishment and told that the ACA was an allowance, not an expense, it was the MP's property, in lieu of pay; and the job of the fees office was to help them claim it."

Whatever opinion you may have about that, and I have my own, you cannot ignore the fact that this was the system put into place, because no Prime Minister ever, including my heroine, has had the political courage to address the issue. Everyone in the political and media world knew it.

At a drinks party the other evening, I had a conversation with Stephan Shakespeare the owner of YouGov. I put to him that MPs prior to my intake had been told for many years that the ACA was in lieu of pay.

"Yes, we have all known that" said Stephan. "Everyone knows that, the question is how do you move forward, what will be put in its place?"

When Stephan said "we all" what he meant of course, was the political and media establishment.

The BBC knew it. Every single journalist knew it. The interviewer on the Today programme this morning, who interviewed me, knew it; and Martin Bell probably knew it because he was given the same rule book as everyone else, when he became an MP 12 years ago. He was also, allegedly, the best friend of the Labour party as detailed in Alastair Campbell's diaries.

The system was a disgrace, an appalling disgrace; but it was the system and everyone knew it.

If MPs prior to 2005 were sat down and told "this is your pot of money with your name on it, and our job is to make sure you have it as it's really part of your salary," what difference does it make what it was spent on? They had been told it was their money - their salary. It was the wrong way to do things; but it was how it was done, and been done for a long, long time - MPs knew no different.

The technique deployed by the Telegraph, picking off a few MPs each day, emailing at 12 giving five hours notice to reply, recording the conversation, not allowing them to speak, shouting over them when they try to explain, telling them they are going to publish anyway, at day 15, is amounting to a form of torture and may have serious consequences.

MPs are human beings like everyone else. They have families too. McCarthyite witch hunts belong to the past, not the present. As do archaic, cowardly, methods of pay.

If MPs are guilty, so are those who knew the system was in place, including the Telegraph journalists who have now decided for their own political reasons to expose the system, in a way which profits the Telegraph, for their own reasons.
PJ White said:
Responded: Friday, 22 May 2009
Very well said. Excellent. The media have done a disservice to democracy and public understanding by their hypocritical mock horror and failure to put the stories in any kind of context. There are massive inequalities of wealth in this country. People on low and moderate incomes are genuinely shocked by what well-off people spend their money on. But for journalists to harness the anger of ordinary people and focus it so sel ectively on MPs is nauseating & disingenuous.
John Silvester said:
Responded: Friday, 22 May 2009
I happened to hear your comments on radio 4 and wholeheartedly agree with what you said - which as a Socialist I was rather surprised too! The next steps we need to take go far beyond mp's expenses.We need to curb the power of the Executive,loosen the party whip,make more use of referenda and utilise technology in voting and canvassing. All things that are great ideas in Opposition but pushed to the back when a party is elected as Government.
saeed said:
Responded: Friday, 22 May 2009
It’s very sad to see the way , you and your colleagues are being treated , but at the same time I don’t feel sorry for you as when the government was going to start an illegal war in Iraq based on a pack of lies Your party and the right wing press were all for it (helping the government by publishing all the lies as if they were facts) not thinking of all the innocent soldiers and civilians which were going to be murdered for no reason, now that the press is hounding you guys with a mixture of lies and truth you are feeling the pain , can you understand how someone like Rose Gentle feels
Danny Hulligan said:
Responded: Friday, 22 May 2009
I listened to you on R5 live. I thought your views were reasonable but it was clear from the tone of the interview (righteous, holier than tho etc) you were always going to be knocked. What is the interviewers agenda? The smarm literally oozed out of her and only got tethy when you rightly pointed out that BBC staff (like her) are paid HUGE salaries out of public funds and are not subject to the rights of FOI (though typically they had the last word and said they are because "Executive salaries" are published - so why not the rest?. Your point about how the key media suddenly find something else to cover when important and contentious issues arise elsewher - particlarly if involving Isrrael, were spot on. Finally it was no surprise the listeners comments were about 10 to 1 against you. After all who picks the ones to use? The BBC of course. By the way I'm a labour person living in Liverpool so am not instinctively pro tory. But I do beleive in fair comment and accurate reporting.
Will said:
Responded: Friday, 22 May 2009
I am sorry, but the defence that it was 'the system' completely fails to recognise the unwillingness of MPs as individual representatives to recognise that it was wrong. That much of what has been reported was 'in the spirit of the rules' is neither here nor there. In the words of Edmund Burke, the father of modern Conservatism, "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion". That MPs knew the system was wrong and failed to either opt out as individuals or campaign against it as a matter of principle and judgement is an indictment of those on all sides. Blaming the media is simply self-serving. And such self-interest is precisely the source of this whole crisis.
Tim H said:
Responded: Friday, 29 May 2009
As you say, they were told that prior to 2005. Haven't almost all the Telegraph's revelations concerned the period since 2005?
Contact Nadine
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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or Telephone on 020 7219 5928

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