I'm guessing that Eric Pickles enjoyed it. He'd made no secret of the fact he's happier having Nadine Dorries represent the Tories from the other side of the world and, as the first episode of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here ended he could take some satisfaction in a by-election victory.
The electorate had spoken and it seemed they shared the Conservative whips' desire to see the MP for Mid Bedfordshire sealed in a dark box with only cockroaches for company. In the first Bushtucker Trial to be decided by viewers rather than volunteers, Nadine had been put forward for Bug Burial.
"I really hope that people's warped perceptions of me will be corrected" Dorries said, as she introduced herself to the viewers at the top of the programme. The challenge ahead, she said, held no real fears.
"When they asked me would you go into the jungle with snakes and rats I thought 'It's Westminster. I work there. How hard can it be?'" A bit harder than she'd expected, as her team lost a surprise challenge and found themselves sleeping rough on the first night.
Ant and Dec – the one unfailingly good thing about I'm A Celebrity – appeared pleased to be able to launch into the new series with the following wind of a political row. "Good evening, Prime Minister," Ant said, as the live segment began and, after filling in less politically aware viewers on the fuss over Dorries' participation, they suggested those who disapproved might contact their local MP. "Unless you live in Mid Bedfordshire", Dec added, with that curiously infectious smirk.
In an article pre-written for the Conservative Home blog Dorries described her appearance on the show as a "publicity gift". But it seems doubtful she'll be linking to the footage of her early attempt at leadership the next time she fights a political election.
When her team were given the task of crossing a swamp in a small boat Dorries realised that it was time to take command. "I don't know much about rowing," she said candidly, "but I do know the oars need to go into the water, and at the same time."
What followed should have been a source of rich amusement to the Conservative whips office; under Nadine's command the SS Dorries span in circles before sinking beneath its hapless crew.
Coalitions are already being formed under the steadily dripping jungle canopy. "What a sweet little Buddha belly buddy," said the Pussycat Doll about Colin Baker, who is making up in geniality what he lacks in agility. Brian Conley is proposing group hugs and anti-rat solidarity pacts are emerging between the more twitchy contestants. But Nadine looks as if she might well find herself in a party of one.
"If she was my Member of Parliament I would expect her to be at work," said Hugo, a Made In Chelsea alumnus. "I don't vote because they're all liars," Eric Bristow told Dorries flatly, before adding salt to the wound. "I like Cameron. He's alright."
After which it was time for Nadine to get the early returns – and find, not hugely to her surprise, that she was going to get crap dropped on her head. The bugs are just the start of it.
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