IT would appear we are about as popular as a kangaroo’s anus with one of our MPs at the moment.
Nadine Dorries, MP for Mid Beds, is not talking to us. She is unhappy that we do not continually fawn to her greatness and has chosen not to reply to our questions on concerns raised by her constituents.
And when we did ask for a comment on why she will not comment, we received a letter from her libel lawyers, Carter Ruck, faster than a jet powered boomerang. Reaching for their lawyers is nothing new with the rich and the powerful and MPs are powerful - and often rich.
It is used as a form of intimidation of the local press, which unfortunately often works. Look around. There is a subtext that runs if you want me to give you quotes, you have to be nice to me. And as legal exchanges can be expensive, even if the newspaper has done nothing wrong, it is usually easier to take the soft line.
Well we are not those kind of newspapers. We realize we could end up in a trial of the non-bush tucker variety, where people don’t eat anuses so much as talk out of them but so be it. It was ever thus. Ms Dorries’ pr edecessor, Jonathan Sayeed, threatened to sue us when we ran stories about a company in which he had an interest had appeared to derive financial benefit from its offering tours of Parliament.
He did not sue and is no longer an MP. We were the first newspaper group to call on the now disgraced ex-MP Margaret Moran to resign and got a bit of flack over it. But not many seem to be defending her now I remember asking a fairly innocent question of Norman ‘Badger’ Lamont once and the response was a letter from his lawyers. Of course Nadine Dorries is also arguing for state legislation over the press and I can see why. MPs could then have direct control over the press without having to resort to the legal muscle of their expensive lawyers.
The reality is, of course, away from the glare of the nationals, that local newspapers find it quite difficult to hold politicians and the powerful to account. And, of course, we sometimes get it wrong, and this newspaper has paid the price, quite literally, for getting it wrong.
But despite the Freedom of Information Act and supposedly greater openness, any critical story is often treated with outrage, as though some line of decency has been crossed. It is also the case that Nadine Dorries can threaten us because of a story she did not like about her daughter working for her, even though at the time she put us on to her daughter for comment, and the information was on a public website. Nadine has brought this on herself, by committing to an appearance on I’m A Celebrity without having been granted permission by the powers that be in the Conservative Party, nor her Constituency Association chairman, a fact for which the Conservative whip was temporarily withdrawn.
Of course Nadine herself can be pretty robust in what she says, including about this newspaper, and about me. We don’t mind robust debate providing it applies to both sides. We often find, however, that it is about as balanced as a Wallaby with one testicle. In other words, they can give it but they can’t take it, unlike the Wallaby. This attitude is prevalent in British Politics these days.I am sorry if this offends and don’t want to find myself up Crocodile Creek without a paddle but the bottom line is she may be a celebrity but we’re not getting out of here.