Opinion: Politicians appearing on reality TV is rarely ever a good idea
- Credit: Tony Ward
Politicians showing us how down to earth they are by humiliating themselves for a fee is rarely edifying or gives you added faith in their ability to do the job we pay them to do – stay off reality TV, MPs.
MP Nadine Dorries appearing on ITV's Junk Food Experiment to talk about her bowel habits – what a wonderful example of art imitating life.
The woman who doesn't think Trident is a weapon of mass destruction, whose views on abortion are not only offensive to many but have also been wildly scientifically inaccurate, who urged people to report to the Department of Work and Pensions people who tweet more than 50 times a day and claim benefits, who proposed a bill calling for teenage girls to be given compulsory lessons in sexual abstinence and who argued that the Government should have dropped plans for equal marriage for LGBT people and suggested that her abstinence policy would reduce child sexual abuse – has appeared on a reality TV show. Again.
In 2012, the MP took time off work to appear on I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here without telling the Prime Minster and her boss, David Cameron, that she would be appearing and leaving her constituency in Mid-Bedfordshire MP-less while she ate camel genitals on live TV in Australia.
That jolly in the jungle led to a suspension from the Conservative Party and an apology to the Commons for failing to declare her fee for appearing on the show therefore breaching the House's code of conduct. Enough to put you off reality TV, you'd think. But no.
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When better to decide to take part in a reality TV show on ITV if you're an elected Member of Parliament than during the most difficult, tempestuous time in British politics the country can remember? What could be more appropriate?
Alongside fellow I'm a Celeb contestant Peter Andre, Made in Chelsea's Hugo Taylor, Olympian Tessa Sanderson, actress Hayley Tamaddon and The Chase mastermind and barrister Shaun Wallace, the MP for Mid-Bedfordshire took part in a three-week experiment saw her become a guinea pig to find out what the nation's love of takeaways is doing to our bodies.
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For 21 days, Nadine and her celebrity chums overate burgers, fried chicken and pizza, Britain's top three favourite junk foods – for lunch and dinner, doubling their daily calorie intake to 4,000 under the watchful eye of dietary expert Dr Michael Mosley.
For Nadine, it was a timely reminder of her Government's austerity policies which have contributed both indirectly and directly to the nation's obesity crisis, for the viewers it was a chance to see Nadine chewing unappealing food as an alternative to watching her spitting out unappealing opinions.
We learned a great deal about Ms Dorries' bowels and watched her disappear into a House of Commons toilet, on our payroll, to produce a stool sample before being given the results from the poo committee in a Skype call in her office. A cynic might say that rather than jeopardise her health and possibly place even more strain on the NHS, Dorries could use her position in the House of Commons to champion the cause rather than have her toilet habits filmed – and I am that cynic.
Politicians showing us how down to earth they are by humiliating themselves for a fee is rarely edifying or gives you added faith in their ability to do the job we pay them to do – it's one thing being able to have a laugh, it's another to be filmed pretending to purr and licking imaginary milk from an actress's hands.
Few things are as horrific as calling to mind that George Galloway stint on Celebrity Big Brother - at the best of times, Galloway looks like the kind of man you'd avoid eye contact with at a party, at the worst of times he is on all fours pretending to be a cat and making the kind of slurping noises that inhabit my nightmares.
On the whole, I prefer my politicians to do politics – and I prefer not to know about the contents of their toilet bowl. Call me old-fashioned if you must…Oh, by the way, the results were that eating a diet of fried chicken, pizza, burgers and chips only isn't good for you. Who knew?
• Stacia Briggs is away next week.