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Lord Ashcroft: Nadine’s publicity stunt does not look like the triumph she hoped for

AshcroftLord Ashcroft KCMG PC.

So Nadine has been evicted from the jungle. Leaving for Australia, she said that taking part in I’m A Celebrity was a golden opportunity to communicate with sixteen million people. Unfortunately, her sixty thousand constituents don’t see it like that.

My poll of her Mid Bedfordshire seat found nearly all of them knew she was involved in the show, and nearly half said they would watch at least one episode. But more than half,  including more than half of Conservative voters, said they disapproved – and most of those did so strongly. Perhaps not surprisingly, older voters objected by a huge margin, but even those aged under 25 were more likely to disapprove than approve of her taking part.

Accordingly, most Mid Beds voters – including two thirds of Tories – said David Cameron was right to suspend her from the party when he discovered she would be away from Westminster and her constituency for up to a month.

Nadine said she was doing the show for the chance to talk to a huge audience about important questions, at a time when nobody pays attention to politicians. Unfortunately, her constituents are not buying this: only a third agreed that on I’m A Celebrity she “will be able to get more attention for the issues she cares about than she would be able to in Westminster”. Nor are they impressed that her parliamentary salary for the time she is away will go to local charities: only a third think this “makes up for the fact that she is away making a TV programme rather than being in Westminster or her constituency”.

Nadine’s voters are evenly divided over whether she has been a good MP for the area, though her Tory supporters are more likely to say she has. The Conservatives have a comfortable lead in the seat, and around half of her constituents say her taking part in the show will make no difference to how they vote at the next election. But only a handful say this will make them more inclined to support her; 45% of Conservative voters in the seat say they will be less likely to vote for her again.

There is a long way to go to the next election and voters can be forgiving. But however well-intentioned, Nadine’s publicity stunt does not look like the triumph she hoped for.

1,500 adults in the Mid Bedfordshire constituency were interviewed by telephone between 14 and 18 November 2012. See for full details.

> Watch Nadine Dorries MP get evicted from the jungle.


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