Jun 27, 2010

Nadine Dorries Joins the Health Select Committee

Several people have expressed concern at the recent appointment of Nadine Dorries to the Health Select Committee. Below are some extracts from blogposts and articles written by some of those who were disappointed by the news.
Dorries is driven by ideology to the extent that she ignores evidence that does not suit her and uncritically promotes any evidence that does suit – whether this information is at all reliable or not. [From a post I wrote on the appointment on my blog Stuff And Nonsense.]

To put this comment in some context: Dorries has questioned the findings of a Science and Technology Select Committee inquiry into Scientific Evidence Relating to the Abortion Act 1967, but repeated uncritically the hand of hope hoax and dubious pre-term survival figures. The Skeptical Voter website also reports that Dorries has: claimed that the Trident nuclear weapon system cannot be classed as weapons of mass destruction; signed the March 2007 Early Day Motion 1240 calling for the positive recognition of NHS homeopathic hospitals; and warned that an embryo research bill could lead to a hybrid "humanzee".

Others have commented on the appointment and expressed their disappointment:
It may shock you to learn that Nadine Dorries is also on the committee. Dorries is no friend of rational thought, and has tirelessly campaigned to radically reduce the lower limit for abortion. Her honesty is perpetually in question, her expenses still under investigation in the new parliament. [An article by Adam Rutherford on the appointment of Tredinnick and Dorries.]

Nadine Dorries, putting her questionable grasp on human biology briefly to one side, was a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee in the 2009-2010 session. During that time the Committee held thirty-two meetings, Nadine Dorries attended none. [...]

Dorries is clearly more than happy to dismiss evidence which does not agree with her personal convictions. A dangerous trait to find in someone serving on a parliamentary health committee. [The 21st Floor]

Over the years, Dorries has issued a number of ill-founded claims about abortion. They include the fairytale "hand of hope" story that she helped to propagate across the web; the incorrect assertion that the NHS didn't carry out abortions after 16 weeks; the claim that charity Marie Stopes International supported her policy views; an attempt to dismiss scientific studies that disagreed with her view as "an "insult to the intelligence of the public"; and some rather dubious interpretations of opinion polls that led a frustrated Dawn Primarolo to exclaim that "The Honorable Lady has asserted many things to be facts that are not." [Martin Robbins writing in The Guardian.]

...the Health Select Committee probably isn't the most appropriate place for an MP who simply does not understand what constitutes evidence, particularly when it comes to the contentious issue of abortion. [Teek]

Jun 25, 2010

Doctors Know Best

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists have spoken. And this is what they have said:

There is no new evidence to show foetuses feel pain in the womb before 24 weeks, and so no reason to challenge the abortion limit, UK doctors say.
That's got to sting a bit if you're campaigning for a reduction of the abortion limit.

Mind you, they still haven't commented on the abilities of foetuses to tear their way out of the womb. We'll need to wait longer for that report.

Paying Your Friends

It becomes more and more obvious why Nadine Dorries was so spooked by the Telegraph's investigation into MPs' expenses. She seems to be pathologically incapable of spending expense money honestly.

Today the Telegraph has another story about dodgy expense claims and, once again, it's about everyone's favourite comedy MP. Dorries has been spending a lot (you might say a ridiculous amount) of money on marketing and research done by a company owned by her close friend Lynn Elson.
New figures released by the Parliamentary authorities yesterday showed Mrs Dorries claimed £17,825 to pay Mrs Elson’s marketing company between July and December last year.

The MP for Mid-Bedfordshire also paid £34,000 to her friend between September 2008 and June last year – making a total of more than £51,000 in 15 months.
Mrs Elson has previously featured in photos on Dorries' blog that were obviously taken on social occasions. The pictures were removed following an earlier report in the Telegraph about Dorries and Elson's business relationship. This story was about almost £10,000 that Dorries spend on Elson's services in 2007. This emerged after this year's general election but before the coalition government had been formed.

Investigation of Dorries' expenses by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards continues. However it can't be completed until the new Parliament's Standards and Privileges Committee has been appointed.

The report is going to make fascinating reading.

Jun 9, 2010

Nadine Dorries is unfit to Chair the Health Select Committee

Nadine Dorries wants to be Chair of the Health Select Committee. She is entirely unfit for the position. End of.

Hopefully sanity will prevail in today's vote, but some serious questions need to be put to the MPs who nominated Dorries for this position. An incomplete list appears below.

Members nominated for election as Select Committee Chairs (PDF)

Candidate: Nadine Dorries

Nominated by (own party): Andrew Rosindell, Heather Wheeler, Andrea Leadsom, Mr Robert Buckland, Sarah Newton, Mr James Clappison, Richard Harrington, Mr David Davis, Esther McVey, Mr Brian Binley, Mrs Anne Main, Robert Halfon, Mr Peter Lilley, Penny Mordaunt, Pauline Latham

Nominated by (other parties): Vernon Coaker, Rosie Cooper, Ian Swales, Graham Stringer

Relevant interests declared: None

Note: Only the first fifteen names of a candidate’s own party validly submitted in support of a candidature are printed, except in the case of committees with chairs allocated to the Liberal Democrats, when only the first six such names are printed.

Graham Stringer is worthy of special attention. He more than anyone visible on this list should be aware of Dorries' attendance record on the Science and Technology Committee. They were both members during the most recent session and he attended many of the meetings when she attended none. Surely he must have noticed her repeated absence, even if he didn't get around to reading the final minutes.