The lovely Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP for Mid Beds, is making her bid for blogosphere superstardom with a series of increasingly hysterical blog posts.
The other day, as she tried to defend herself over parts of her expenses claims, she was regaling readers with details of her marriage break-up, and how it led to her spending only a couple of days a week in her "main home". This was all very sad until you remembered that millions of people all over the country have to cope with divorce and separation without the taxpayer cushioning the blow with a nice fat cheque.
Yesterday she made a stir with her claim that some MPs were on suicide watch. The atmosphere was "unbearable" she wrote; "People are constantly checking to see if others are ok... If someone isn't seen, offices are called and checked."
Well, it's nice to know the honourable members are looking out for each other. Today there's more of the same:
What they are doing by taking out a few MPs a day, from all parties, not allowing them to defend their position, not printing what they say, shouting over them and doing this day after day after day amounts to a form of torture which any group of human beings would find difficult to bear.
As an ex nurse who managed on a measly salary I know how angry people are. The system has been wrong and scandalous. But everyone in the media and political world, other than those MPs like me who came in after 2005 knew about it. Therefore they are all culpable.
The truth may not be palatable and hard to swallow; however, it’s the truth. Treating a group of people in this almost sadistic way is as appalling and has to stop.
The comment about MPs who came in after 2005 doesn't make much sense. In an earlier post she claimed that "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'." This, she thinks, means that "it was how it was done" and "MPs knew no different". But many of them clearly did know differently.
As for "everyone knew about it, therefore they are all culpable" - well, it's true enough that Lobby correspondents have long been too close to the political system for the health of the democratic process, and that for years questions were not asked that ought to have been asked. But the only people genuinely culpable are those MPs who claimed unreasonable allowances. And despite the daily drip-drip of revelations, that is only a minority. Not everyone asked for payouts on a phantom mortgage, claimed for his 'n' hers second homes, or used the "rules" to dodge capital gains tax. If it's wrong to tar everyone with the same brush, it's equally wrong to pretend that everyone is equally guilty.
But I'm most taken with Dorries' idea that making MPs face the embarrassing consequences of having their claims made public is a form of torture. If nothing else, it displays a remarkable capacity for self-dramatisation. It's hardly waterboarding, is it? And I'm sure they can cope. No-one goes into politics who doesn't have an abnormally thick skin - that's one reason why some MPs thought that asking taxpayers to fund their duck-islands, moat-dredging costs or "high-quality bookcases" was reasonable in the first place. If they are feeling uncomfortable at the moment it's no bad thing. Although looking at the immoveable smirk on the face of Hazel "totally unacceptable" Blears yesterday hardly didn't make me want to pick up the phone to Amnesty International.
And what does she mean by "a group of people", anyway? All politicians? Or just the ones who have been subject to the most searching questions? It's not entirely clear. Dorries' tendency to emote online doesn't always lend itself to rational analysis. She blogs more like a Californian cheerleader than a member of Parliament.
Hopi Sen thinks that, with her anti-abortionism, "woman of the people" style and effortless ability to embarrass the party she's the British answer to Sarah Palin. Most unfair. Palin was actually quite an effective governor before she was talent-spotted by the McCain campaign and it rather went to her head. She's also much better dressed.
The Telegraph reports today that David Cameron had slapped Nadine down. An unnamed senior source described her comments as "wacky". Now she responds, "Excuse me? Err, no he hasn’t. What a corker."
She reveals that "the Telegraph has rang Central Office and asked them to ask them to remove my blog and not mention the contents of my blog on air, which I think, is very different".
Grammar obviously isn't her strong suit. Still, the poor girl's been under a lot of pressure lately. As to why the Telegraph wants her to remove her blog, presumably it has to do with various allegations about the Barclay twins, the paper's famously reclusive owners. For example, there's her suggestion that the "fiercely Eurosceptic" brothers are ordering the publication of the details as part of a dastardly plot to undermine 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" she continues. Alternatively, you could go through any number of back-issues of Private Eye. Then there's this fascinating stuff:
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.
Dorries seems to be trying to book herself an appointment with Mr Justice Eady.
Where does she get all these conspiracy theories? She explains that as "a cheeky scouser" she has made friends with some of "the faceless and nameless in Parliament". One in particular is "a mine of information";
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 indeed. Though not quite as scary as the thought that Nadine Dorries is already a member of Parliament.