Competition for the coveted title of ‘Stupidest MP in the West’ is hotting up.
We all already know about South Bristol’s disaster-on-heels Dawn Primarolo, the former Bennite turned Blairite turned Brownite Treasury Minister who’s kept off our TV screens for her own safety. Dawn has made Tax Credit fiascos, Inland Revenue property sales gaffes and computer software cock-ups her own since joining Gordon Brown’s Treasury team in 1997.
And this is an MP so stupid she has to be regularly driven around her own constituency in a bus on a ‘Seeing is Believing Tour’ for local voluntary sector brown-nosers and SWRDA and GOSW flunkies to gently explain what a disaster her own constituency is after 20 years of her selfless input.
However a new contender appears to have stepped into the ring. Wansdyke MP Dan Norris has been bubbling under in the stupidity stakes for some time now. Described within the Labour Party euphemistically as “a West Country specialist at Lib Dem bashing”, he is probably best known locally for what can only be described as an obsession with paedophiles.
There’s a definite green ink quality to this obsession too. Norris is the kind of person who thinks there’s a paedophile on every corner of your child’s walk to school; that they’re staking out the playground; infiltrating after-school clubs and plotting their way into a job as Ronald McDonald for the next school fete. Norris tends to get away with these bonkers views because, as he never tires of announcing in his plummy tones, he worked in child protection for 20 years…
Since the 47 year old also claims to have worked as a teacher and he’s been an MP since 1997 this means he must have started his child protection career some time in his early teens. At the same time, in fact, he would have been attending Truro School, a very minor public school.
So far, so nuts, so New Labour… Another privately educated thickie on the fringes of Westminster left safely in the West country to rant about paedophiles and Lib Dems (not mutually exclusive categories in Bristol) to eager provincial journalists until he’s required in town as lobby fodder.
Not any longer I’m afraid because, in the light of the fact that his Wansdyke Ward is a marginal, Dan has decided to go national.
Sunday saw the MP appear in The News of the World, apparently praising a new ‘Sarah’s Law’ pilot scheme to be launched in his constituency where “for the first time parents will have the RIGHT to know if predatory perverts live in their neighbourhood.”
The story was followed up on Monday in The Guardian:
Yesterday Labour MP Dan Norris, whose Wansdyke constituency in north-east Somerset will be one of the pilot areas, said John Reid had given the go-ahead.
“The details are not finalised but parents are likely be given access to the number of paedophiles in the area – but will not be given individual names,” he said.
And in our very own Bristol Evening Post:
He [Norris] said: “This is truly terrific news for children and their safety and an important blow in the fight against paedophiles and the harm and misery they cause. I could not be more pleased.
Well done Dan. Terrific news indeed. Except it was complete bollocks. No such law was about to be piloted in Dan’s or any other ward. As The Guardian explained on Tuesday once the Home office had returned from their holidays:
Whitehall sources said a Labour MP who announced to the News of the World three pilot schemes allowing parents to know how many sex offenders live in their neighbourhoods or on popular local school routes, was “getting ahead of himself”.
The Guardian also fingered Norris for approaching the NoW with a fantasy story:
There were also complaints about the way the initiative was floated in the News of the World.
At this point, with his publicity stunt spectacularly backfiring, it might have been wise for Norris to clear off sharpish and keep his head down. Perhaps a fact-finding mission on perverts in Scunthorpe? A child abuse seminar in North Wales? A social workers conference in Coventry even?
Not for thickie Norris I’m afraid. Demonstrating the kind of wit, skill and wisdom that could have landed him the coveted Vice-Captaincy of Truro School’s Hockey 2nd XI he decided to defend himself on Newsnight. Ho, ho, ho.
The full interview with Gavin Esler is here (The interview starts 21 minutes in).
Now Esler is hardly a rottweiler but towards the end of the interview he’s still no clearer why Norris has fabricated a paedophile story for the press over the Easter weekend. Exasperated Esler says:
You represent a constituency that will be marginal at the next election. You’re talking all over today’s papers about paedophilia. You’re hyping it aren’t you? Absolutely hyping it.
And Norris’s reply?
I think if you knew anything about my record working in child protection for 20 years and you knew the work I had done you wouldn’t say that.
So Dan, in your world of child protection fabricating stories isn’t hype? It’s perfectly normal is it? Something to be proud of even? I think you’ve just told us all we need to know…