Andrew Neil Is An 'Abrasive Sexist', Says Tory MP Nadine Dorries In Attack On BBC

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Andrew Neil has been called a sexist by Tory MP Nadine Dorries
Andrew Neil has been called a sexist by Tory MP Nadine Dorries

The BBC is an "ageist, sexist organisation", according to Conservative MP Nadine Dorries.

The Tory MP For Mid-Bedfordshire told the House of Commons on Monday evening that unless the corporation reformed ministers should withhold funding.

Dorries focused much of her fire on Andrew Neil, the BBC's political presenter, whom she said was "aggressive, abrasive and often rude".

The outspoken Conservative backbencher has a long-standing dispute with the broadcaster, having previously called him an "orange, overweight, toupee-wearing has-been".

For his part Neil has used the phrase "madder than a box of Nadine Dorrieses".

Dorries told the Commons she made that outburst because of the "outwardly sexist comments this particularly rude man has made about women". She cited one instance where she had rushed to the TV cameras to be interviewed for his programme only to overhear him tell someone "well she looked tired and out of breath there didn't she". A comment Dorries said he would not have made about a male MP.

She also said that Neil only ever had Labour MP Diane Abbott on his late night This Week programme as a "token female", and when she did appear it was just to attack her. Abbott had been a permanent fixture on the This Week sofa alongside former defence secretary Michael Portillo until she ran for the Labour leadership and subsequently accepted a position on the Labour front bench.

Dorries' comments about Neil came as she made a broader attack on British journalism which she said was inherently sexist.

"In the case of the BBC, the general public, 52% of whom are women, pay the licence fee to endorse this behaviour," she said. Dorries urged ministers to tell the BBC that until they gave women a more prominent role the corporation would not be "getting the dosh".

"It's about time the minister set up a parliamentary committee to scrutinise the decision making process within the BBC," she added.

She told MPs that the reason the corporation did not receive as many complaints as it might do about the lack of female broadcasters was that the general public saw no point writing to "such an ageist, sexist organisation".

Responding for the government, culture minister Ed Vaizey praised the BBC but acknowledged it had to do more to ensure female voices were heard. He cited one morning in July when there was no female contributor to the BBC's flagship Radio 4 Today programme between 6.15am and 8.20am.