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Nadine’s "cult" blog

image The Sunday Telegraph waxes lyrical, it is gushingly in awe of Nadine Dorries’ blog, with its frank shoot-from-the hip style of writing. She is dubbed "Bridget Jones MP". This is what the article says:

Dorries has also become something of a new-media superstar. Her blog is cult reading among MPs from all parties and her appearances on the internet television channel 18 Doughty Street are often the talk of Westminster.

Nadine’s challenging reply on her blog today is:

If I am the Westminster parallel to Bridget, does this mean a Mr Darcy is on the horizon? If Mr Darcy only has the photograph from the Sunday Telegraph by which to find me he wil be looking for a female MP who resembles a zombie with lank hair, glazed eyes, a grey fish face and an oversized hand growing out of her ear.

Yes, we all hope Nadine will find her Mr Darcy one day. Nadine’s blog is very amusing and a great read. However, in my opinion, it has stopped being a blog as it no longer accepts comments. It is now an online daily diary.  A blog must allow readers to comment and be interactive, it facilitates two-way communication which is crucial for MPs.  This was the explanation Nadine gave:

Please don’t send any more comments – It’s a time thing, I don’t have any.

I have to rely on the patience of others to read and post the comments for me. I am never in front of a computer for more than a couple of minutes at a time and this has now made reading the comments before they are posted impossible.

Knowing that there are comments on my site which I may not even have had time to see, makes me uncomfortable.

If any one wants to contact me you can still do so via the email facility on the home page.

My response is that if Nadine was serious about writing a blog to interact with constituents and others about political issues – I remember her brilliant, provocative post about a new travellers’ site in her constituency – then she should pencil in 10 minutes in her diary to observe the views of others. It can be done, if she genuinely wants to listen and respond. Surely she is glued to her Blackberry throughout the day which provides access to her blog, and these can/or soon will be used in the House too.

Why does Nadine invite people to email her, rather than post interactive comments? Why is one more important than the other if they are based on issues she has raised for discussion? Nadine does not need to respond to all the comments, I agree this is a strain, but a dialogue can still take place between her readers, and she can check them out when she has five minutes.

Don’t forget, women are the best jugglers of all when it comes to fitting 30 hours work into a 24 hour day.

Now that Nadine’s blog has brought her this fame, I feel it is unfair to switch off comments, which provides the blood, the heart and soul behind it. I hope she reconsiders.

Curly feels let down too, I wonder how many other bloggers do as well.


16 Comments

  1. There is no point in having a blog if you are not going to interact with readers.

  2. I shall not be posting on her blog anyway as there is no space for me to ‘grandstand’ which is what I like doing best ….just like my friend Tim!!

  3. Erm, Ellee… Nadine is also claiming that many of those “hundreds of comments” have been coming from one individual.

    I’d also invite you to read what she broadcast just before closing down comments. The need for ‘space’ is spin at best.

  4. Nadine, thanks for this clarification. I really had no idea you were getting hundreds of comments. It’s a compliment in many ways, so please don’t give in to the low-life, don’t let them win.
    However, I sympathise with how you must have felt getting vile comments too, especially with such intensity.
    It’s so disappointing too because this indicates there is a need to discuss abortion. I read a book this year about the reasons why women voted the way they did in the last American presidential election. One of the most important issues which women felt had not been discussed openly was abortion. This one issue decided how many women voted.

    I can understand why you need a breathing space right now, I look forward to when your comments are reinstated. I love your blog too.

  5. I agree with Tim – Nadine needs a better platform eg WordPress – I will gladly set her up with one at minimal cost. As for moderating her comments by email how antediluvian is that. I am also sure that someone would be willing to moderate her comments at minimal to no cost.

  6. So, Nadine, your argument is that you have refused all valid challenges to your abortion-related posts because of a series of invalid ones that we’re not allowed to see. I could say something about throwing the baby out with the bathwater here, but instead I’ll suggest that you get a more robust blogging platform, which will make moderation of the alleged abuse easier to handle.

    Oh, and I would seriously consider doing this before the difficulties of the abortion debate (some of which are nothing to do with the contentious issue of abortion, and of your own making) have passed you by… otherwise people might get the idea that you’re the kind of person who makes spurious/baseless accusations and then runs away when called on them.

    I do admire your determination to focus on the concerns of your constituents, BTW. I assume this was why you spent so much time ensuring that the abortion debate went in the ‘right’ direction.

  7. Nadine Dorries

    Hi Elee,
    Not a single penny of an MPs allowances can be used to support a blog. I have to pay for my blog site, and the running of it from my own pocket.

    This is because there are posts on the site which could be deemed to be party political, such as when I put the boot in on the government. Allowances, including the £10,000 communications allowance, can only be used to communicate with constituents to inform them about the work an MP has undertaken on behalf of his or her constituency. You cannot ‘campaign’ using tax payers money.

    The fact is I was getting hundreds of comments. Many, as a result of what I have been doing with regard to abortion, some of which were absolutely vile.

    There are some lovely people out there, but there are also some serious low life – and when you put your head above the parapet, as I have, the low life take aim.

    I may, when my work regarding abortion takes a slower pace, re-introduce comments. However, in the meantime, having to deal with people who think it’s cool to re- post their comments 40 times a night, and there are dozens of them, so that it takes over an hour to sort out the email account in the morning is no joke.

    The comments I now take on email are far more serious in content.

    It would be great if I didn’t have a day and night job and could focus on the blog, but that‘s not why I’m here.

    Very few of my constituents used the blog to communicate with me, but almost every person I meet reads the blog and therefore that is where I need to focus what little time I have.

    I did take comments on my BB but I am afraid I had to stop that also when I started to receive some very weird posts late at night, which frankly scared me.

    Someone is going to comment “if she can write such a long post…?!!

    I often read your blog Ellee, far more eclectic and better written than mine!

  8. I think bearing in mind how sensational Nadine’s posts were on abortion, these highlight the need to have an interactive debate on such an important issue, the more comments the better.

  9. I don’t think moderation a problem if the MP delegates as Geoff says and it is, as Ellee says, well within budget for her to do this. Mountjoy – Boris Johnsons site has only recently been less spontaneous, due I guess to the hosting problems that have been widely published. However I know that the site has always been moderated and the moderators are quick and brilliant. In fact I think the moderation on that site is about as near to perfect as one could get 🙂

  10. MountJoy Then she must learn to delegate – a useful skill for an MP I would imagine.

    She could use a plugin like Disqus to create forums for each of her posts. e.g. like Steve Pavlina did. That way she can use ‘trusties’ to moderate the forums and also contribute when she has the time.

    If she is still using email as a communication medium (as she suggests) then she must have plenty of time or maybe she just deletes all her emails.

  11. Look, it’s the moderation problem.

    If you allow unrestricted comments (like Conservative Home did), you get lots of nasty posts on there … that is why ConHome had to start moderation.

    If you moderate, it is less spontaneous. I am in favour of a facility where you have a list of ‘trusted’ commenters and they earn the trust if they post more than once. If they post something nasty, they’re blacklisted.

  12. Flowerpot, MPs get an annual £10,000 allowance to help with communications, so I would have thought that getting web support was well within Nadine’s budget.

  13. Perhaps Nadine should, like Boris, get help with her blog. Does she have someone who answers her emails I wonder?

  14. WW, I don’t think Nadine gets hundreds of comments, readers yes, perhaps. As I said, she does not need to respond to them all, perhaps once at the end of the day.

    Philipa, I know Boris has help with his blog. If it is going to be considered as a serious communications tool, then the comments should be valued. You can learn so much from them too.

  15. Yes, I agree completely and you put the point far more eloquently or generously than I would Ellee. I agree with Nadine that she is no Briget Jones. I would also add that MP’s such as John Redwood and Boris Johnson read comments and provide a much needed, and valued, opportunity for people to be heard by everyone else as well as by their MP. Boris does as you say – reads the comments but does not answer them all, only occasionally when he feels he should. He has provided a forum too for a casual and relaxed exchange between his readers. His really is an excellent site and if he can do it Nadine, AND write a column for the Telegraph AND write books and present a TV documentary AND run for London Mayor and do them all so well then I’m sure you can dear, after all, he’s blonde too.

  16. I agree with you Ellee. However, the reality is that she probably receives hundreds of comments with all the recent publicity over abortion and that it would be impossible for her to answer them adequately. Maybe a blog is like a hedge fund: it only works well up to a certain size.

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