Last night, former Scottish Labour leader, Kezia Dugdale, arrived in the jungle as part of the reality TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here!’. The Lothian MSP joined the programme alongside broadcaster, Iain Lee, and will be introduced to the rest of the camp through the next bushtucker trial - ‘The Battle for 10 Downing Creek’.
Since the show’s return on Sunday evening, there has been a great deal of talk about the politician joining the show, which is filmed in Australia, despite currently being an MSP. This has sparked a great deal of debate, not just amongst other politicians, but viewers and other members of the public.
What does Kezia Dugdale do?
Dugdale was re-elected as the MSP for Lothian, meaning it is her job to represent the region in the Scottish Parliament. As an MSP she is required to hold surgeries both in Parliament and in her region so that she can speak to her constituents.
MSPs are then required to attend Parliament throughout the week so that they can represent their constituents and their views in debates and decision-making. They will discuss Bills and be given the chance to ask the First Minister any questions.
Within Parliament, MSPs can join committees which meet to discuss areas or subjects in detail. Kezia Dugdale is a member of the Finance and Constitution Committee as a substitute. The ultimate role of this committee is to discuss taxation, borrowing and spending plans and estimated costs of proposed legislation.
Why is Kezia being criticised?
Dugdale’s participation in the TV show has led to a vast amount of discussion, which is currently being conveyed in the media. Whether she was wrong to leave her constituency for the foreseeable three weeks to take part in the competition or whether it is justifiable.
According to The Guardian, Richard Leonard, the new leader of the Scottish Labour said: “feelings are running high” in the party, and that her joining the programme has resulted in a split amongst members.
Many media outlets, such as the BBC, are claiming that Dugdale did not ask permission to join ‘I’m a Celeb’ during Holyrood term. However, she will not face suspension from the party.
Sky News mentioned that her fellow Labour MSP Neil Findlay has said that her decision was “utterly ludicrous” and that it “demeans politics”.
It’s not just the media discussing her decision, but members of the public. Many have taken to Twitter to tweet their frustrations about the MSP:
Who’s supporting Kezia?
Although the media are covering the fall out from Dugdale’s decision to join ‘I’m a Celeb’, it is clear that not all of the reactions are negative.
According to The Guardian, the politician’s partner, Jenny Gilruth, defended Kezia’s decision to go on the show and that she delayed her arrival so that it wouldn’t clash with the election of her new party leader and successor.
The Express said that Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has said that she shouldn’t be suspended for her decision and that he told the Press Association: “It’s her choice to go on ‘I’m a Celebrity’… I don’t think it’s appropriate to suspend someone from the party for doing that, that’s her choice.”
Sky News reported that Kezia said she would be donating her three-week salary, £2,500, to charity since she would be away when she was meant to be working.
Additionally, not all of the tweets were angry members of the public, there were some tweets from constituents and fellow politicians who wanted to show support for #teamkez.
First Minister, and member of the Scottish National Party, Nicola Sturgeon has tweeted her support for Kezia, but has said: "It's not something I would like to see an SNP MSP do." according to The Scotsman.
What does Kezia have to say about her decision?
Before jetting off to Australia, Dugdale created a Team Kez account on Twitter, that will be run by family and friends while she is in the jungle. On the twitter handle, she posted a video to constituents explaining why she has decided to go into the competition.
She explained that she has decided to go on the show because it is viewed by millions and she wants to use it as an ‘opportunity’ to talk to the viewers about Labour values.
She also said that she has donated her salary to the Rock Trust; a charity in Edinburgh that supports young people at risk of homelessness.
In her introduction video for the programme she jokes: “People have […] probably seen me deal with a few rats and snakes in my time - this is the first they’ll see me with beasties and creepy crawlies.”
Watch the full #teamkez video here: https://twitter.com/twitter/statuses/933291300002070528