A Tale of two MPs; or why Nadine Dorries is a Buffoon

Palace of Westminster.

Palace of Westminster. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, Nadine Dorries has abandoned her responsibilities as an MP and gone off to take part in I’m a Celebrity, get me a Brain Transplant. She’s got a lousy sense of timing. Just as the entire world is transfixed by politics, with Barack Obama’s re-election in the US, Ms Dorries has flounced off muttering that politics is boring and what people are really interested in is has-been celebrities being ritually humiliated by having maggots poured over their heads.

At a time when Britain is facing a dire economic situation that threatens all our futures, when British soldiers are dying in Afghanistan, when our relations with the rest of the European Union seem to grow daily more strained, Ms Dorries has decided the best way she can serve the people who voted for her is by eating kangaroo testicles somewhere in Australia. It’s not much a vote of confidence in her own abilities.

“”I’m doing the show 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,” she told the press, claiming the TV show would give her more opportunity to advance her views on abortion.

This seems to be rather missing the point. Just because some people like to unwind by watching Christopher Biggins have frog spawn poured over his head, doesn’t mean they want serious political issues debated in that forum, or that parliament would be improved by dumping several tons of frog spawn over MPs’ heads in the chamber — although, come to think of it, that would have its attractions.

Ms Dorries has betrayed the fact she thinks parliament is a publicity machine, that it’s all about how many people are watching you. Before this latest stunt, she was best known for describing David Cameron and George Osborne as “”two arrogant posh boys who don’t know the price of milk”, a smart little one-liner, but not one likely to have much constructive effect, considering they’re in her own party.

I don’t want a parliament full of self-serving wannabe celebrities trying to get on camera — Prime Minister’s questions is already too  far down that road. The really important work of parliament, most of it, takes place away from the public eye, in committees where MPs hold the government to account and scrutinise legislation.

Ms Dorries seems to feel that, as a backbencher with little chance of getting a job as a minister — well she wouldn’t have, after that  attack on Cameron — I’m a Celebrity is her best chance of raising her public profile.

I’m struck by the contrast with another backbench MP who’s been in the news recently, Labour’s Tom Watson. While Ms Dorris has slagged off her own leader and sashayed off to the jungle in search of that elusive elixir, fame, Mr Watson has been quietly raising his own profile by working relentlessly through the committees he serves on. He was instrumental in exposing the tabloid phone-hacking scandal, and was a star of the select committee hearings that ensued.

Mr Watson does not have a spotless record in parliament — he came in for some criticism in the MPs’ expenses scandal. But he is doing the work an MP is paid to do, the work he was elected to do, holding the government, and the wider establishment, to account.

Ms Dorries, by contrast, has exposed her essential vapidity. She’s not interested in the hard work of being an MP, only in fame and popularity. The jungle is the right place for her, with all the other attention-seeking B-listers, humiliating themselves, begging to be noticed, desperately trying to shore up their inadequacies with fifteen minutes of fame.

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