How much will we be paying Nadine Dorries while she's in the jungle?

Tory MP will claim her monthly salary of £5,478 while she competes on I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

While David Cameron is unlikely to mind losing Nadine Dorries to the Australian jungle for up to a month as the Conservative MP competes in I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, the public (not least her Bedfordshire constituents) might take a different view. Dorries, who has already arrived in Queensland for the show, has refused to forego her parliamentary salary for the period, meaning that she'll receive as much as £5,478 during her time on the programme (as well as expenses of around £3,218), in addition to a fee of up to £40,000. She said:

I've worked seven years as an MP and I've never taken a day off work in Parliamentary time. I've worked all through recess and I only had four days off this summer.

Parliament is in half-term while I'm there. I've not done anything to prepare for the jungle. I worked right up until I left the UK for Australia.

It's true that Parliament is in recess for a week from 13 November, but her appearance could last for up to a month. At a time when Dorries has voted for cuts to benefits for the poorest people in the country, there's something faintly outrageous about her claiming her public salary whilst gallivanting around the Australian bush.

Update: Labour List notes that as a member of "the Panel of Chairs”, whose role is to "chair Public Bill Committees and other general committees", Dorries receives an additional £8,166 a year, which brings her expected remuneration whilst in the jungle to £6,158.

Conservative MP Nadine Dorries has already arrived in Australia in preparation for her appearance on I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

Photo: Getty Images
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The buck doesn't stop with Grant Shapps - and probably shouldn't stop with Lord Feldman, either

The question of "who knew what, and when?" shouldn't stop with the Conservative peer.

If Grant Shapps’ enforced resignation as a minister was intended to draw a line under the Mark Clarke affair, it has had the reverse effect. Attention is now shifting to Lord Feldman, who was joint chair during Shapps’  tenure at the top of CCHQ.  It is not just the allegations of sexual harrassment, bullying, and extortion against Mark Clarke, but the question of who knew what, and when.

Although Shapps’ resignation letter says that “the buck” stops with him, his allies are privately furious at his de facto sacking, and they are pointing the finger at Feldman. They point out that not only was Feldman the senior partner on paper, but when the rewards for the unexpected election victory were handed out, it was Feldman who was held up as the key man, while Shapps was given what they see as a relatively lowly position in the Department for International Development.  Yet Feldman is still in post while Shapps was effectively forced out by David Cameron. Once again, says one, “the PM’s mates are protected, the rest of us shafted”.

As Simon Walters reports in this morning’s Mail on Sunday, the focus is turning onto Feldman, while Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential grassroots website ConservativeHome has piled further pressure on the peer by calling for him to go.

But even Feldman’s resignation is unlikely to be the end of the matter. Although the scope of the allegations against Clarke were unknown to many, questions about his behaviour were widespread, and fears about the conduct of elections in the party’s youth wing are also longstanding. Shortly after the 2010 election, Conservative student activists told me they’d cheered when Sadiq Khan defeated Clarke in Tooting, while a group of Conservative staffers were said to be part of the “Six per cent club” – they wanted a swing big enough for a Tory majority, but too small for Clarke to win his seat. The viciousness of Conservative Future’s internal elections is sufficiently well-known, meanwhile, to be a repeated refrain among defenders of the notoriously opaque democratic process in Labour Students, with supporters of a one member one vote system asked if they would risk elections as vicious as those in their Tory equivalent.

Just as it seems unlikely that Feldman remained ignorant of allegations against Clarke if Shapps knew, it feels untenable to argue that Clarke’s defeat could be cheered by both student Conservatives and Tory staffers and the unpleasantness of the party’s internal election sufficiently well-known by its opponents, without coming across the desk of Conservative politicians above even the chair of CCHQ’s paygrade.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.