Gloves off as Nadine Dorries and Louise Mensch trade blows

  • @oliver_wright

One is a publicity-seeking Conservative MP who likes nothing better than to be at the centre of attention. The other is a publicity-seeking Conservative MP who likes nothing better than to be at the centre of attention. When the Tories' most outspoken female MPs turned on each other yesterday, the explosion prompted colleagues to retreat to a safe distance.

Nadine Dorries – whose previous targets have included her "posh-boy" leader David Cameron – lit the blue touchpaper when she turned her ire on former colleague Louise Mensch, accusing her of letting down her female counterparts in Parliament and sycophantic careerism towards the party leadership and the Murdochs.

In a blog on the Conservative Home website, ostensibly in defence of Prince Harry's right to parade naked in a Las Vegas hotel room, Ms Dorries identified her real target. "She [Louise Mensch] is a former MP who has resigned midterm, supposedly for the sake of her family," she wrote. "A pill very hard for some to swallow when she appears on her social media site and Twitter by the minute and has no problem leaving her family, popping up on the media on a regular basis."

Warming to her theme, she continued: "Louise has always put her own ambitions first. She has spent her entire time in Parliament void of principle, as an ultimate loyalist Cameroon."

She was vitriolic about Mrs Mensch's announcement, during a select committee hearing with the Murdochs earlier this year, that she had to leave to collect her children, describing it as "one of the most unprofessional and undignified comments ever heard" at such a hearing.

"This was stomach-turning for female MPs, who act in a professional manner in order not to be judged lacking against our male peers," she claimed, accusing Mrs Mensch of "schmoozing" James Murdoch on her way out.

The blog ended with one final dig. "After all, it's not as though Prince Harry has admitted to taking illegal drugs, abandoned his post, or failed to turn up to work every Thursday in the style of Louise Mensch, now is it?"

Mrs Mensch, who defended The Sun's right to publish the naked Harry pictures, had the option of maintaining a dignified silence. It was not to be.

"Waking up to find self on the Nadine Dorries naughty step," the former novelist who is quitting her seat to be with her children and husband, wrote on Twitter. "Which is a pity as I spend my entire time worrying about what she thinks. (ahem)". Mrs Mensch said of the article: "I haven't even read it and doubt will bother." But she corrected one assertion, adding that she worked in her constituency, Corby, every Thursday.

It was left to their fellow Conservative MP Glyn Davies to survey the damage. "Nadine Dorries and Louise Mensch launching into a full-on internet fight," he wrote. "Must admit I wouldn't fancy getting on the wrong side of either."