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Thursday 22 November 2012

Nadine Dorries Is Not A Celebrity

So the time came for the first eviction from the current series of ITV’s I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here and to no surprise at all the honour fell to (yes, it’s her again) Tory MP Nadine Dorries. This has resulted in the usual over-the-top newspaper coverage, but the cold reality is that most people probably don’t care, and Ms Dorries will not have moved her career forward one millimetre.

She had some fairly clear objectives when the whole adventure started, including the idea that getting on the show would put politicians like her where the public was, and thereby raise their profile and show that they were human beings too. But once the circus has moved on, and everyone returns from Australia, is when reality will hit, and that is when she will find out what really matters.

Because, as MP for Mid Bedfordshire, what really matters is her constituency, which has not had an MP serving it since she flew off to Brisbane without telling her local association. On top of that, she didn’t tell anyone in the party at Westminster either. But this morning, exclusively on ITV’s breakfast show, the fragrant Nadine was sure of one thing: none of this was her fault.

She accused former Tory chief whip Andrew “Plebgate” Mitchell of “being clever with words”, insisting that she had been given a month off, only not to appear on a reality show from down under. The reason the party whip had been removed from her must have been because Young Dave and his fellow jolly good chaps were frightened of being bad-mouthed by her (again).

As there was no means of her finding out about her suspension from the party, this doesn’t make sense: it wouldn’t have stopped her saying what she thought, as she didn’t know about it. But what of those causes that she was going to talk about in the jungle? What of her campaign to lower the time limit for abortion? What about connecting with all those millions of viewers?

Sadly, that part of the Dorries strategy has also failed signally. A combination of broadcast impartiality rules and the ever-pressing need not to bore the audience meant that all of the Dorries campaigning was cut out. None of it got through. And now she has to face up to the fact that her only other income is representing a constituency where 45% of Tory voters say they will be less likely to vote for her again. Most of those voters disapproved of her publicity stunt.

Moreover, two thirds of Tory voters said Young Dave was right to suspend her from the party. Even those under 25 were more likely to disapprove of her choice. What Nadine Dorries needs to do now is not to even consider any more grandstanding, but to make her peace with the party leadership and work to regain the trust of her constituents in time for the next General Election. If the Tory Party lets her.

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