Parliamentary sketch – The Law of the Jungle

Posted on: 15th November 2012

Yes.  I know, I know.  There are many others who, just like you, don’t understand why it wasn’t me who was banished to consume marsupial’s testicles with fellow Z list wannabes in an Australian (Studio) ‘Jungle’.

Nadine Dorries was, briefly, a former fellow member of the Health Select Committee I serve on.  We didn’t see much of her during her brief spell with this high-powered cross bench team, which includes a former Health Secretary, doctors, Health Trust Executives, etc.

The truth is that some MPs don’t seem to cope well grafting for long hours in the carbon monoxide of obscurity, but instead crave the oxygen of publicity, and to overdose on it as often as they can.  Not for them the burden of trawling through thousands of pages and hours upon hours of evidence on often boring but essential detail of policy making to effectively expose unacceptable practice and to improve the way often voiceless people are treated by the system.

Nadine seemed to find the hard graft of the Select Committee worse than she’s now finding her studio jungle.  We understood her message – “I’m a celebrity get me out of here”!  And out of the Committee she took herself… into greater notoriety.

Nadine is nothing if not self confident.  She has powerful friends (“I am an MP because God wants me to be”), has an impressive capacity to fall out with her friends (famously describing the PM and Chancellor as “Posh boys who don’t know the price of milk!”), and is unashamed when contradicting herself (e.g. criticising Sally Bercow for “degrading the Speaker’s office” for appearing on Celebrity Big Brother!).

But there’s a problem which Nadine has correctly highlighted by her actions and priorities.  She knows that MPs don’t succeed by toiling in obscurity.  You don’t get votes by shunning the limelight.  You have to stand up for what you believe; stand up and get noticed.

But when does the oxygen of publicity become an addictive drug?  Some of our breed seem prepared to take their desire for publicity to new heights of recklessness and risk.  Yes of course politics at a national level is a high wire act.  But there’s no sense in running blindfold across it without having tested the safety net!

So, I don’t wish Nadine any ill.  I hope she comes out of this unscathed.  But I know that many of her political colleagues will be phoning to keep her in the jungle and will take satisfaction if it all ends in tears.

Andrew George
MP for the West Cornwall &
Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives
12th November 2012