British TV stars get politically involved

Lumley, Rantzen campaign for rights

The plaintive cry “I’m a politician, get me out of here” has been echoing through the corridors of power in Blighty of late amid a scandal over inflated expense claims.

But while the stock of Parliament has sunk ever lower, the standing of TV personalities involved in politics has been on the rise.

Actress Joanna Lumley, who played Patsy in “Absolutely Fabulous,” spearheaded a campaign to secure British residency rights for vets of the Gurkhas, a British Army regiment that recruits from Nepal. After Lumley humiliated immigration minister Phil Woolas in front of the TV cameras, the government caved in to all her demands.

Esther Rantzen, who rose to fame as a consumer champion on TV’s “That’s Life!,” has subsequently established a reputation as a passionate campaigner for children’s rights. When the member of Parliament for Luton South, Margaret Moran, got caught up in the expenses controversy, Rantzen declared she would stand against her in the next election. Moran now says she won’t seek re-election, but Rantzen still intends to be a candidate.

And then there’s entrepreneur Alan Sugar, who stars in the BBC’s version of “The Apprentice.” Sugar was just appointed enterprise czar by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and co-opted into the upper chamber of Parliament.

The problem is that no one bothered to explain to Sugar that he’s supposed to toe the party line: He immediately voiced his opposition to the government’s 50% tax for high-income earners.

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