Romney's ruse, Obama’s glue and Nadine Dorries' ants' nest
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Romney's ruse, Obama’s glue and Nadine Dorries' ants' nest

Norwich : United Kingdom | Nov 06, 2012 at 8:49 AM PST
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Today, American voters in Bedford, N.H., and other states quit their beds early to demonstrate their zeal for democracy by queuing early to vote for their next president.

Meanwhile, in the UK, a Bedfordshire-based British politician, Nadine Dorries, has stirred up a political ants’ nest by temporarily quitting her parliamentary duties to appear on a television reality show shot in Australia.

The Tory member of Parliament for Mid-Bedfordshire is facing a tropical storm Sandy-like (and swelling) wave of criticism over her decision to go “down under” for up to a month to take part in reality TV show “I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here.”

Even as 51-year-old US President Barack Obama emphasized his marathon runner Mo Farah-like stick-to-itiveness in a bid for a second term and 65-year-old Mitt Romney's campaign announced a test of his endurance as his campaign was extended with visits to Ohio and Pennsylvania, 55-year-old Dorries, was en route to Brisbane, preparing to be subjected to various physical and psychological tests of character in a fabricated reality-TV format—which typically includes making celebrities eat insects and offal.

But while the British MP apparently hopes that her performance in an Australian jungle will endear her to her constituents and other members of the British public, critics in the political jungle to which she must return are interpreting her stint (or should that be stunt?) in Australia as a scandalous dereliction of her parliamentary duties—somewhat like Mr. Romney’s behind-closed-doors abandoning of 47 percent of the American electorate, perhaps.

As a Yahoo news story reported of Dorries’ adventure, "her stint in the jungle means she is likely to miss an EU budget vote and could potentially be away for Chancellor George Osborne's UK mini-budget."

That article also points out that Dorries "earns more than £65,000 as an MP" and "stands to pick up a fee" for appearing on the ITV reality program.

No comparison was made with President Obama’s or White House challenger Romney’s earnings, from politics or otherwise.

But then, the Yahoo writer probably never envisaged anyone making a link between what is happening in Bedford, N.H., today and what might happen in Bedfordshire, England, the next time Dorries faces the electorate.

This media shark clearly smells blood and is circling. But it may be political cannibalism, Tory-style, that may cause Dorries’ electoral undoing.

According to Yahoo, former Conservative MP Harry Greenway said, “This is outrageous. Her local constituency party should think very deeply as to whether she is putting them first or not. She is certainly making a very good case out for herself to be dumped as a candidate at the next election.”

And even former Tory MP Louise Mensch, who gave up her Corby seat in August to be with her husband who lives in America, has denounced Dorries’ decision, saying on Twitter: "Nothing sadder than a politician, or ex-politician, on any of those shows. Just imagining the scene in the whips' office if I said I wanted to skip Parliament for weeks to go on a celebrity TV show."

Norwich, Norfolk, Liberal Democrat political activist Simon Nobbs takes a similarly dim view of Dorries’ decision, likening it to that of his party colleague Lembit Opik.

In a statement the former Norwich City counselor told Allvoices: "It certainly didn't help Lembit Opik's political career appearing on ‘I'm a Celebrity,’ and turned out to be something of an ego trip for him. I wonder if Mrs. Dorries is doing it for the same reason. It certainly isn't giving her time to be involved with the day-to-day work of her constituents."

He also said, "I would have thought that in a week where we remember those who died for us in past wars we ought to perhaps have more in the news about what's really important. Our soldiers are dying even today in Afghanistan."

I do not know if Mr. Nobbs has read any of my "Talibank Thinking" stories.

Anyway, I’m taking a wait and see attitude on Dorries' decision myself. She has apparently justified her choice to take part in the ITV program by viewing the celebrity show as a platform for sharing her views.

Dorries told the Sun newspaper: "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."

Who knows why a Tory politician might feel she can more freely and effectively communicate her opinions to the British electorate from a jungle than from the British Parliament or her constituency office?

Likewise, who knows why an American venture capitalist who clearly considers himself detached from 47 percent of America's electoral natives might think he could do more for the American economy as a politician than as a leader of business?

I've already declared my bias for President Obama, so readers know my vested interest.

I nonetheless feel obliged to point out his consistency to Americans voting today.

From his decision to get involved in community organizing—when he could have chosen a lucrative career in corporate law—Mr. Obama has shown his faith in small beginnings: he has demonstrated a faith I share, in people power; the power of even the most insignificant seeming citizens to make a "big difference."

He reiterated that faith in all Americans just a short while ago as he spoke to the media at a campaign field office in Chicago.

He said, "The great thing about these campaigns is that after all the TV ads, all the fundraising, all the debates and all the electioneering, it comes down to this: one day and these incredible folks who are working so hard, making phone calls, making people go out to vote.

"It's a source of great optimism for me whenever I come to Election Day because I end up having so much confidence in the decency and goodness and wisdom of ordinary folk who are working so hard and trying to move their small piece of this country forward."

This is why the Obama campaign is so strong on the ground: he puts the communication power of Sky, CNN, the BBC, Reuters and other media houses in proper perspective.

Unlike Dorries, he is not likely to be seduced by a "16 million" TV viewers statistic.

That's why I have no reservations about urging Americans to stick with this president.

He's sticking—like glue—with you: all of you.

Junior Campbell is based in London, England, United Kingdom, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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