Tom Peterkin: Sorry Ms Dorries, but reality TV won’t help either your or the Tory party’s terrible image

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For hard core arrows fans, the thought of spending a month with Eric Bristow might seem quite appealing. Just think of the tales Bristow could tell of his epic battles with the late Jocky Wilson and that other great athlete John “9-dart” Lowe.

Others may take the view that joining Bristow in Australia for the reality show I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here is a mystifying decision – particularly so when you are Nadine Dorries, Conservative MP.

In her House of Commons Register of Interests there is no suggestion that Dorries has ever been to watch the darts at the Lakeside. Yet now she’s off to the jungle. There she will join the Crafty Cockney, assorted soap opera “stars”, Z-list desperadoes and the hot favourite to win this degrading contest – the entertainer Brian Conley.

It is quite understandable if the good folk of mid-Bedfordshire are more than a little bit miffed that their MP is taking time out from her £74,000-a-year day job representing them to appear on a programme with an excellent record for making fools of the contestants.

No doubt pictures in yesterday’s papers showing Dorries sunbathing at her four-star hotel on the Gold Coast before she was dumped in the jungle will further endear her to her constituents. Even when the revolting tasks that Dorries will have to perform for what passes for entertainment on mainstream television these days are considered, her decision seems incredibly self-indulgent.

Perhaps it is a reflection of our dumbed down society that a public figure might choose to cavort with celebrities instead of doing her duty. To an extent, Dorries’s journey down the reality road has been smoothed by the excruciating cameo provided by the Speaker’s wife Sally Bercow on Celebrity Big Brother – not to mention the appearances of Tommy Sheridan and George Galloway on the same show.

Like Galloway, Dorries’s attempt to gate-crash the world of celebrity has been made while she is a sitting MP. That creates a bit of a problem for the Conservatives, a party that isn’t exactly doing too well in the image stakes and whose leadership Dorries has clearly fallen out with.

Given that she didn’t bother to tell the party leader or her constituents of her plans makes the Conservative Party’s decision to suspend her understandable. In her defence, Dorries has argued that she has never before taken a week out of parliamentary time, unlike some of her colleagues.

She also believes that appearing on a prime-time show could help engage the apathetic with politics. But eating beasties and shoving creepy-crawlies down your trousers is hardly going to repair the damage of Andrew Mitchell’s “plebgate” row or George Osborne’s travel arrangements. From a personal point of view and speaking as the victim of a dumbed down society, the really troubling aspect about this is that Dorries’s presence on the programme will probably ensure that I’m glued to this rubbish for weeks to come.