The Dorries distraction

What is Nadine Dorries for?

Obviously she is very much for reducing the number of abortions. And, it would appear, is the willing purveyor of any amount of nonsense in pursuit of her objective. Today Channel 4’s Factcheck blog has her bang to rights. Dorries has made a number of apparently evidence-based claims in a newspaper article about the damaging effects of abortion. It turns out that the claims are less than scrupulous in their handling of the relevant evidence. Critics would no doubt say this isn’t the first time Dorries has been exposed in this way.

But in many ways being charged with abusing evidence is irrelevant. Dorries, one would surmise, isn’t really interested in the evidence one way or the other. My guess is she feels that deploying evidence is a way of giving an argument rooted in zealous religious belief a veneer of credibility and respectability. She’s just not very good at it.

More interesting is the vested interest argument being used against Marie Stopes and BPAS. Read more of this post

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Democratic deficits

Liberal democracy faces profound challenges. Radically different future trajectories present themselves. We are living through momentous times.

In Britain the media has spent the last fortnight preoccupied with the Hackgate scandal. Incremental, and ongoing, revelations have exposed the inner workings of the nexus between Westminster politicians and the tabloid media. What we witness is the political class showing an alarming level of deference to powerful economic interests. The alleged intimate connection between sections of the Metropolitan police and the tabloids raises equally urgent questions about the prevailing culture and ethics at the heart of a core social institution.

The British media has been preoccupied with this evolving soap opera involving many of its own. And the scandal has certainly opened up a welcome window of opportunity to reform relationships vital to a healthy democracy. But events unwinding elsewhere are likely to play a bigger role in shaping economic and political trajectories in the short and medium term. Read more of this post

Tribalism and coalition in a media-saturated political environment

We still have a lot to learn about Coalitionland. It is, certainly for Westminster politicos, a foreign country. As Mark Thompson pointed out at MarkReckons last Thursday, Labour seem unable to grasp the concept of compromise, which lies at the heart of successful coalition government. The idea that someone in the Lib Dems or Conservatives could simultaneously support both their own party policy and coalition policy, even though the two differ, does not (yet?) appear to compute for Labour. Of course, while Labour may be making a particularly bad job of adjusting to the new political landscape, they are not entirely alone. A while ago at Liberal Democrat Voice, George Kendall posted in response to tribalism from Lib Dems. The thrust of his argument was that it is not sensible politics for Liberal Democrats to engage in excessively tribal responses to Labour attacks on the formation of the coalition and the agenda it is seeking to pursue. After all, it may be that next time around the voters’ wishes signal that the most viable coalition would be with Labour. It would be rather unfortunate if all bridges had been burned. Remaining civil would seem more prudent. Read more of this post