Why did Kezia Dugdale join I'm a Celebrity?

When Alex Salmond announced that he would be hosting a self-titled show on Russia Today, he might have assumed that his would have been the most newsworthy TV appearance by a former party leader this month.
It has been reported that Kezia Dugdale will be heading to I'm a CelebIt has been reported that Kezia Dugdale will be heading to I'm a Celeb
It has been reported that Kezia Dugdale will be heading to I'm a Celeb

In fact, the former First Minister was almost blown out the water by the shock announcement on Friday that ex-Labour leader Kezia Dugdale had signed up for ITV reality show “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here.”

New Labour leader Richard Leonard said that the Lothians MSP could be suspended for her decision, while UK chief Jeremy Corbyn seemed to disagree.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Some expect Ms Dugdale to resign from parliament, while her most stringent critics in Labour even think she could be using the appearance as a springboard to joining the SNP.

We look at how the jungle spell could pan out for the ex-leader, what she has to gain and her potential motivations for joining.

Why this show?

While some careers have been launched, or boosted, by the jungle-based reality show, most of the contestants return to their chosen careers after the Bushtucker Trials have ended.

Nadine Dorries’ appearance on the show sparked as much, if not more, controversy than Ms Dugdale’s, and she has returned to a relatively high political profile, having been elected twice since.

The potential financial rewards would normally be an obvious pro for any politician taking time off from parliament, but those won’t necessarily apply to Kezia Dugdale.

Read More
Kezia Dugdale's I'm A Celebrity decision dubbed '˜utterly ludicrous'

Sources close to the Lothians MSP insist that any outside earnings she makes will be donated to charity, in keeping with a long standing arrangement she had to donate her fees from a newspaper column to good causes.

That said, it is not unreasonable to assume that Ms Dugdale could be looking to boost a post-politics career, perhaps as a commentator, with a high-profile appearance.

Could she win?

It is, ironically, another political figure who is currently the hot favourite to be crowned the next King of the Jungle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Stanley Johnson, former Conservative MP and the father of Foreign Secretary Boris, has already won over punters in the first episode.

Having entered the contest on Friday at around 6/1, Ms Dugdale has now, in bookmakers parlance, drifted like the proverbial barge and is knocking on the door of 50/1.

While she often struggled to persuade voters, and could occasionally fail to impress in a debate setting, those who know and have worked closely with Ms Dugdale speak of her as warm and funny, two qualities that previous winners have tended to exhibit.

It has also long been rumoured in political circles that Kezia Dugdale has been known, in certain circumstances, to break out a dead-on impersonation of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

It will be interesting to see if that features on the ITV show.

Political Future

No matter what the result of the annual Ant and Dec fronted show, Ms Dugdale’s immediate career on the frontline of Scottish politics would appear to be over.

Once the full details of her jungle sojourn emerge (she has still not featured on I’m A Celebrity), she may yet be suspended by the Scottish Labour party.

It is clear that while she did leave voluntarily, Ms Dugdale was unhappy about how she was treated in the immediate aftermath of Labour’s better-than-expected result in Scotland at the snap general election in June.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Leonard will not thank Ms Dugdale for landing her with such a large problem to deal with on his first weekend as leader (some Leonard loyalists would suggest the timing is deliberate).

One thing that has shocked observers, despite understandable consternation over Ms Dugdale ‘abandoning her constituents’, is the vitriolic and personal nature of the attacks on her.

It is clear that for some in the Labour party, Ms Dugdale’s greatest act of betrayal is not her political fortunes or her reality appearances, but rather her personal relationship with an SNP MSP.

That is frankly no-one’s business but Kezia Dugdale herself, but there are some who use it, and the perceived lack of criticism from the government, to fuel conspiracy theories that Ms Dugdale may cross the floor and join the SNP.

Most agree that is a far-fetched ending to the whole saga, but just a week ago the very idea of Kezia Dugdale on I’m a Celebrity would have seemed far-fetched itself.