Well, she’s up to her neck in deep water in the jungle, and in pretty hot water back home in the UK. Nadine Dorries, the MP for mid-Bedfordshire, has been suspended by the Conservative party for bunking off parliament and deserting her constituency to appear on reality television show ‘I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!’ deep in the Australian jungle.
[quote style="boxed" float="right"]suspended by the Conservative party for bunking off parliament[/quote] Nadine is something of a rebel and a major critic of David Cameron, although last night, as we saw her topple out of her boat and into the water, she might better be described as a Tory wet. She took charge of the boat from the onset, telling former Doctor Who actor Colin Baker, darts player Eric Bristow and former Pussycat Dolls singer Ashley Roberts, that: “I think we need to approach this task strategically and with a little bit of efficiency and organisation.” She then directed them into the bank and it wasn’t long before they were up the creek without a paddle.
Mind you, Nadine probably has a lot on her mind. Soon after she touched down in Brisbane Sir George Young, the chief whip, said that he plans an “urgent meeting” when she returns.
Mad Nad, as she’s nicknamed by her political rivals, is rumoured to have been paid £40,000 for taking part, and somehow her involvement was kept secret until just a week ago. When announced, it was met with scorn and anger by both the Conservative party and her constituents who are furious at her absence on full parliamentary pay. To add to the noise the office of the parliamentary commissioner for standards has confirmed that it has received a complaint against Nadine and is considering an investigation.
Oh dear… and of course, there was no shortage of Conservative MPs rushing to criticise her involvement in the show which could keep her away from Parliament for up to a month. Eric Pickles, Communities Secretary, said “I’ll obviously miss her and I’m going to have to struggle on bravely without her. I shall be watching it and I shall be ringing in religiously every week to keep her there.” And the longer she stays, the hotter the water gets for her back home.
[quote style="boxed" float="right"]David Cameron would probably be “relieved” she had gone[/quote] Before leaving for the jungle, Nadine said that she felt that David Cameron would probably be “relieved” she had gone. Instead, the prime minister decided to suspend the party whip, stressing on TV that: “She’s no longer a Conservative MP while this is going on.” The Home Secretary, Theresa May, was equally straightforward. “Frankly, I think an MP’s job is in their constituency and in the House of Commons,” she said.
Nadine, on the other hand, takes a different and more liberated view claiming that she had agreed to do the programme “because 16 million people watch it”. “Rather than MPs talking to other MPs about issues in parliament, I think MPs should be going to where people go.”
Well, not many people actually go to the Australian jungle, but I guess that we get what she means.
[quote style="boxed" float="right"]Naughty Nadine Dorries has boobed again![/quote] Mind you, she’s no stranger to being in the public eye and if her aim is to update the image of stuffy politicians to an audience of millions then it looks like she may have succeeded. The last time Nadine was plastered over the papers was a little more than year ago after proposing an amendment to the health and social care bill concerning abortion. A far cry from the front page of last week’s Daily Star where she was pictured semi-naked with show presenters, Ant and Dec, superimposed over each of her breasts along with the headline: “Naughty Nadine Dorries has boobed again!”
Boobed again? Well, only time will tell. “Naughty Nadine” joins a small and elite group of political Reality Show stars who, in the main, have not damaged their public image at all by their appearances.
Ann Widdecombe became a much loved contestant in Strictly Come Dancing after retiring as an MP, despite being described by judges as a “Dalek in drag”. She’s repeatedly declined invites to I’m a Celebrity, and claims that she would have advised Nadine not to take part, saying: “You have no control at all in those programmes. It’s entirely up to the editor which parts are shown.” She went on to say that she felt Nadine had taken “the most tremendous gamble”, suggesting that, “it may well work for her if she does manage to open politics to people who are more likely to vote in reality shows than in general elections.”
[quote style="boxed" float="right"]it may well work for her if she does manage to open politics to people who are more likely to vote in reality shows[/quote] Former Cheeky Girl partner and friend, Lembit Opik, has also grasped the nettle of reality television – appearing in Come Dine With Me and I’m a Celebrity in 2010, where he became the second person to be eliminated after finding himself in the bottom two with athlete Linford Christie. Lembit has also appeared in Have I Got News for You, Stand Up for the Week, Al Murray’s Happy Hour, All Star Mr and Mrs, and Celebrity Juice, so he’s no stranger to the media. Speaking of Nadine’s involvement in the show whilst still an active MP he said that she was unlikely to have anticipated the reaction to her decision. “Most people going to the jungle have no idea of the size it is, or the impact it could make,” “I certainly didn’t.”
The other political Reality TV star, Former Glasgow MP George Galloway, was re-elected to Westminster in a “sensational victory” when he won the Bradford West by-election, taking the seat from Labour, who were expected to retain the constituency. Labour MP Toby Perkins claimed at the time that the result was down to Mr Galloway’s celebrity status. George sensationally appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2006.
So is “Mad Nad” really mad at all, and will the Conservative Party sink her once and for all with her return to civilisation? As Anne Widdicombe said recently “What if she pulls it off and comes back in glory? What exactly is the party going to do then?”
Well, only the British voting public can decide, and it’s likely to be Nadine’s biggest political gamble to date.