As is being widely reported:
The Conservative party has suspended Nadine Dorries after it emerged she is to take time off from parliament to be a contestant in ITV’s jungle-based reality show I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here.
…Dorries, who has flown to Australia to prepare for the show – which is set in an outdoor studio in the Queensland jungle – tried to justify the decision by saying the programme would act as a platform to reach the public and raise awareness about issues such as a reduction in the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 20.
She told the Sun: “I’m doing the show because 16 million people watch it. If people are watching I’m A Celebrity, that is where MPs should be going. I’m not going in there to upset people, but I have opinions.”
Of course, Dorries is essentially a narcissist, and it is absurd to imagine that she would have turned down the chance to express her opinions and promote herself on television just because the opportunity happens to clash with her duties as a public servant. Even a threat of de-selection would be unlikely to faze her; Dorries’ deteriorating relationship with the Prime Minister is almost certainly beyond repair by now anyway.
Fleet Street Fox has perhaps the best commentary (links added):
She can generate headlines, practice hypocrisy and nepotism, mislead, money-grab, shag [another woman’s] husband…, take bad advice, is blatantly opportunistic and appears never to have been blighted by self-doubt.
Taking all that on board, she’s an excellent candidate for celebrity.
With the taxpayers’ trough of state denied her and nothing to rely upon except her undeniable flair for guff, fluff and gobbing off, the only route left to her is the George Galloway Expressway, with stop-offs scheduled at Opikville, Midsummer Mensch and Widdecombe Historical Village.
Those supporting her decision include Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home, for which Dorries provides a column; he writes that she had told him about her plans “some months ago”. Also on board is Sally Bercow, wife of the House of Commons Speaker John Bercow; she asserts that appearing on the show is just a bit of moonlighting and that she may inspire “just a few to enter politics”. It’s sad to see Bercow pushing such a weak line for her husband’s benefit; John Bercow had been subjected to a barrage of personally-insulting abuse from Dorries (“oily opportunist”) until he decided upon a policy of appeasement.
Damian Thompson, meanwhile, attacks David Cameron’s decision to suspend her:
Nice one, Dave. You try to save the career of the odious snob [Andrew] Mitchell, but come down like a ton of bricks on a working-class woman who embarrasses you.
However, that’s not the only way by which we can contrast Cameron’s sudden ability to rouse himself now with his failure to act on previous occasions. As the New Statesman‘s David Allen Green notes:
So the Tories suspend #Dorries, not for irregularities over her expenses or falsehoods about bloggers, but because of a “reality show”
I’ve written about those “falsehoods about bloggers” myself; Dorries lies and distortions are designed to discourage critical scrutiny, and they have been used by others in bad faith to put a vigilante gloss on acts of harassment in relation to other matters (I’ve received some fire myself from these elements for daring to point out what’s been going on).
Incidentally, that Fleet Street Fox article includes a background passage worth noting:
She was accused of having an affair with a married family friend, and when news broke instead of saying ‘well yes, but he had already left his wife and the children are fine with it’ her then media adviser told journalists his wife was an alcoholic. (When she said this to me, I turned off the tape and asked if she really wanted to go down that route. The media expert said yes because it would ‘kill the story’. Sigh.)
At the time, Dorries told a different story on her old Twitter account, which no longer exists. She wrote that “I would never have discussed but was boxed into a corner”, and that she “hated doing that, but had to to defend the kids from horrible lies”.
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