When the story broke that Kezia Dugdale would appear on “I’m A Celebrity” the immediate reaction from some of her Labour colleagues was telling. It wasn’t just a case of the usual left faction having a go at her, but also moderates such as MSP Jenny Marra. Even some of her loyal allies such as councillor Dr Scott Arthur were deeply disappointed, by saying it was a “slap in the face”. It seems many Labour moderates are still bruising that she abruptly quit as leader back in August.
The notorious divisions in Scottish Labour were further evident when Neil Findlay MSP said Dugdale’s decision “demeans” politics. Really? I don’t often agree with Ms Dugdale on much, but it’s an opportunity for millions of people to see politicians in a human light, which is undoubtedly a positive thing given that politicians are held in such contempt. Mr Findlay’s attack seems more to do with Kezia being on a different wing of the party. I can’t see Mr Findlay publicly condemning Mr Corbyn should he ever decide to join such a show to promote his ideas.
What was interesting was how Dugdale has received more support from other parties than her own. There is genuine support for Dugdale amongst some SNP supporters on Twitter with the #TeamKez. It was only months ago she was public enemy number one by the same individuals. How much of the support is to do with the nasty treatment she has received from her Labour colleagues?
With that all being said, Dugdale has done herself no favours with the way she has handled the fallout. All Dugdale had to say was “I am doing this to show politicians in a human light and to have a new experience.” Instead, she went for the “doing it to promote Labour Values” spiel, which screams insincerity.
Does she really think she will get the chance to promote Labour values on a reality TV show? Promoting political ideas didn’t exactly work out as planned for George Galloway, Tommy Sheridan and Nadine Dorris. There are Ofcom rules to prevent such as thing. If she was allowed an opportunity to promote the Labour party on the show, then you would soon have other parties sending their MPs and MSPs into reality shows and the viewing figures would soon plummet.
The second misjudgement she has made is that she is only donating a small portion of her rumoured £100K appearance fee. She doesn’t need the money, she’s paid handsomely as an MSP. By keeping the majority of the fee and claiming she is doing it to promote Labour socialist “values” comes across as inauthentic and hypocritical.
Dugdale has preached numerous times for Nicola Sturgeon to “get on with the day job”, now only for herself to forget her own day job, by flying off to a rainforest for three weeks. In the real world, most people cannot swan off from their jobs for three weeks to “promote” their political values. Her hypocrisy will now prevent her from questioning other MSPs again, or she will be rightly ridiculed.
Despite her mishandling of the situation and her past comments, I think she will make a positive contribution to the show. Her appearance will almost certainly raise her profile. I am confident she will handle the bushtucker trials well, after all, she has spent years dealing with the rats and snakes in Scottish Labour.