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Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Bedfordshire MP encourages dobbing in of disabled people who use social network sites

Article from 'Disability Now'

"Disabled internet users have hit out at Conservative MP Nadine Dorries following her open invitation to report benefit recipients who communicate online excessively.

Ms Dorries, MP for Mid-Bedfordshire, wrote a blog entry on her website on 30 September, asking readers to contact her or the Department for Work and Pensions if they knew of anyone on benefits and using social networking site Twitter who has tweeted more than 35,000 times in the last three months.

Many disabled people took this to mean that Ms Dorries felt that those who regularly use the social networking site are not entitled to benefits.

Ms Dorries reacted in a second blog entry: “If you Twitter all day, every day, about claiming disability benefit in one tweet whilst arranging a night out in the pub in the next […] don’t expect someone like me not to a) inform the authorities and b) tell you to get of [sic] your Twitter and get a job.”

It is understood that Ms Dorries aimed her comments at one particular disabled tweeter, though they affected many more.

Ms Dorries told Disability Now: “[The tweeter] has whipped up an online storm by presenting an inaccurate portrayal of me, but I feel that people don’t really know that, as a Labour party member, she has a political motive.”

The tweeter, who preferred to remain anonymous (but you can read her tweets at, replied: “She’s wrong, I’m just a woman with a blog; I am not powerful like her.

“What she said puts everyone in the same bracket. It’s none of her business what people do at home, benefits or no benefits. The internet is really good for keeping disabled people in touch with people.”

Sarah Ismail, a disabled journalist and blogger, agreed. “I am a freelance journalist and blogger who uses Twitter to promote my work and find new work. If I could say one thing to Nadine Dorries it would be that we don’t all use Twitter to plan trips to the pub!”

Disabled tweeter Andy Platt added: “It is very alarming that a person with views like hers sits on the health select committee, which will inevitably give her a voice in the setting of some aspects of Government policy on people with disabilities.”

Nadine Dorries told Disability Now that people who are “genuinely” disabled have her support. “But if you are someone who can sit on a keyboard all day constantly updating something every few minutes, you have that level of attention span and stamina, you should be working.”

She added: “We need to see more employers providing opportunities for people to work from home. Disability organisations should be working to change the way employers think.”

•Nadine Dorries’s blogs can be found on

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