Natalie Walker: Why Kezia Dugdale has been a flop on I'm A Celebrity

Kezia Dugdale has been a flop so far in the jungle, writes Natalie Walker.

If you have ever met Kezia she comes across as bubbly, genuine, passionate and fun. Just the sort of person you think would give her all to everything she turned her hand to. Not your typical politician.

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I'm a Celebrity bosses disappointed with Kezia Dugdale

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Yet the Lothian list MSP has been in the jungle for days now and it is highly likely most people watching ITV’s I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here are still scratching their heads and asking themselves ‘Who IS Kez?’.

She has hardly had any air time - by far the least of all in the camp - and in the little screen time she’s had, the former Scottish Labour leader has looked dour and dull.

‘Promoting Labour values’

Kez has come across as patronising and bossy. And sadly that is how many voters, especially younger folks, regard politicians.

Kezia Dugdale has not looked like she is enjoying her time in the jungle. Picture: PA

She justified defying her Labour bosses and leaving behind her constituents to use her stint as “an amazing opportunity to talk to young people about politics and Labour values”. Yet to date we have heard her talk politics just once - when she joked with Stanley Johnson that he could spend time explaining Brexit to her.

Pfft. That’s all folks.

Dugdale may well be chatting about social justice and the need for higher public sector pay to her camp mates off screen - but what good is that?

If you are getting paid a reported six-figure sum for three weeks work, (less if you are among the early ones evicted, which at this rate Kez will be) would you not have a game plan to ensure maximum coverage?

Kezia Dugdale has not looked like she is enjoying her time in the jungle. Picture: PA

Like thinking about what to say and when to say it?

What screams loud and clear from our screens is that even the most able and caring politician is left lacklustre without their countless array of special advisors and spin doctors.

What is the point of going on one of the country’s biggest TV shows if you are going to be a grump?

Unpopular campmate

Not just that, one that rubs all the other contestants up the wrong way.

You would have expected a good few ding dongs with Boris Johnson’s ex-politician father. Surely he is there for the taking - he is 77, ruled out of most of the trails on health grounds and his controversial son is Foreign Minister.

But Kez has merely implied she is not impressed with the “Stanley Cult” in camp and said he “irritates” her. Well at this rate he will have the last laugh when she is booted off first. At least he is having fun and is making an effort to get on with his temporary family. By contrast, Kez looks ill at ease, out of place and just plain miserable. Which she might well be, but come on...this is TV!

Reports have emerged that producers are scratching their heads as to why self-confessed “nippy” Kez has been so dull. After all she admitted this was the second time they had approached her about appearing. As one reader remarked: “If the show’s researchers had been living in Scotland since 2014 they would have known this would happen, zzzzzzzzzzzzzz”.


Even Nicola Sturgeon, who revealed she would be backing her former political opponent, has gone eerily silent with her ‘way to go Kez’ Tweets.

So what went wrong?

It was inevitable Kez was going to have a tougher job than most of the other ‘celebs’ given she landed on the show two days after most of her camp mates .

She started with a bang when all the celebs backed her for Prime Minister over fellow latecomer comic Iain Lee.

But, oh dear, what started out on a high, quickly hit an all time low for the politician.

To date Kez has faced just two trials. In both she barely even tried. She was less than useless at the 10 Downing Creek task. Surely rummaging through fish guts in a box named ‘Sickola Sturgeon’ would be considered one of the easier Bushtucker challenges - and this, from the woman who said she was used to dealing with rats in her day job!

Her camp mates looked semi shocked at her heart hearted effort. They remain in that state. As do the viewers.

Maybe we were expecting too much? But surely the Debating Chamber of Holyrood is not that far removed from the jungle.

If you can make it as leader of a major political party surely you have backbone, bite and backers?

So come on Kez, it might not be too late to turn this PR disaster around.

To coin a Corbyn catchphrase, let’s see some TV action that “works for the many not the few”. Otherwise you are facing a landslide - and will become I’m A Celeb’s first 2017 evictee.