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By Paul Goodman

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FLIGHTI was opposed to the arbitrary and unjust removal of the whip from Howard Flight, a regular contributor to this website, just before the 2005 election.  It brought to an end the Commons career of an intelligent and dedicated servant of the Tory cause, and was utterly disproportionate to the offence – namely, embarrassing Michael Howard and the party leadership during the run-up to that year's poll.  That Flight was later given a peerage was a backhanded recognition that the leadership had made the wrong judgement call.  A Conservative MP has usually been chosen as a candidate by his local party and endorsed as a MP by voters.  He should not be deprived of the whip from the centre without exceptionally good reason.

In David Lean's wonderful Lawrence of Arabia, Jackson Bentley says that Lawrence was "the most shameless
exhibitionist since Barnum and Bailey".  It is worth bearing in mind that Bentley had not met Nadine Dorries.  I completely understand why her colleagues were infuriated by her pushing off to the jungle from the Village, while they toiled long and hard in the lobbies.  Furthermore, it's not unknown for her to cross the line of tact and taste and even truth, as her "posh boy" remarks about David Cameron and George Osborne indicated (though it should be remembered that he didn't come up with the phrase, which was put to her by Giles Dilnot of the Daily and Sunday Politics – and which she then repeated).


But were exhibitionism a good reason for removing the whip, roughly a third of the Parliamentary Party would be whipless, and Cameron would have no Commons majority at all.  This morning's Times reported that the Whips Office have mulled the matter over, and believe that Dorries should be given the whip back.  David Davis's class war attack on the leadership has probably made taking that counsel a bit harder for Cameron, who won't want to be seen to be backing down. But there's not much point in having whips if their advice isn't taken.  It is possible to be both an exhibitionist and a campaigning Conservative – and Dorries fits the latter category as well as the former, besides adding to the gaiety of nations.  She should get the whip back.

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