The 7 things Labour can learn from Kezia Dugdale in the jungle

There’s no point throwing yourself into fish guts if you don’t have a strategy. 

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Kezia Dugdale is going down as well as a bull’s penis smoothie. That's the verdict of the Sunwhich reports that Im a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! bosses are fuming at the former Scottish Labour leader's inability to create great TV in the jungle.

Her crimes include failing to win at competitions involving touching or consuming disgusting things, not having a fight with Boris Johnson’s father Stanley, and generally being a compliant camper.

Meanwhile, the programme has proved handy for Dugdale's post-leadership friendship reshuffle. Her public critics include fellow MSPs and her successor as Scottish Labour leader, Richard Leonard. Meanwhile perhaps discomfortingly, SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared herself “Team Kez”. (Writing in the Daily RecordDugdale's partner Jenny Gilruth (an SNP MSP) also came to her defence, while her SNP-supporting dad backed her on Twitter). 

So does Kez (no last names allowed in the jungle) understand more about politics than Scottish Labour? Or was her entire political career all an elaborate plan concocted by a secret network of reality TV producers and the SNP to bring down Scottish Labour? Here's what I learned from watching Kez on I'm a Celebrity.

1. Mock Ant and Dec at your peril

Jeremy Corbyn may not follow Ant and Dec, but watching I’m a Celeb is a commitment. Each episode is an hour long, and it is on Every. Single. Night. More than 12 million people, or roughly a sixth of the population, have watched it – the same amount that watch BBC Parliament all year. In fact, the only way for a politician to get more exposure on the small screen would be to don diving gear and skulk around a coral reef while the BBC filmed Blue Planet II.  

2. Every political broadcast should contain adorable animals

When Kez entered the jungle, everyone else immediately jumped on to her team. The reason? They were all Corbynsceptics. Just kidding! They were all taken in by the introductory video of Kez communing with a kangaroo in a wildlife sanctuary. (Stanley Johnson, father of the Foreign Secretary, also ingratiated himself with stories of tortoises and wallabies). Maybe aspiring prime ministers should put on the diving suit after all.

3. If you're buried in fish guts you can’t see the stars

Immediately after entering the jungle, Kez and mouthy broadcaster Iain Lee jumped into tunnels filled with nature’s discards, starting with the “Sickola Sturgeon” box of fish guts. Kez, the woman who conscientiously took over Scottish Labour at its worst moment, plunges in. But she can’t find the red star she needs to proceed, and while Iain crawls through spiders and snakes, she’s still there, mired in gloopy pink flesh while a little blood trickles out of the box. Eventually, she catches up with Iain in the “Jeremy Clawbyn” box, but once again, she’s scrabbling in the sand for a star while Iain leaps out of the end of the tunnel as the new jungle PM. Hard work only gets you so far.

4. Popularity always trumps pity

Kez left Scottish Labour a winner – at least by the standards of the party circa 2015 – but as Kez of the Jungle, her supporters lost confidence almost as soon as she entered the fish guts tunnel, and started squeaking “it’s not here” and “I can’t find it”. This was compounded by the shouts of “come on, Kez”, as if she were a middle-ranking Wimbledon tennis player holding the line until Andy Murray came along. By the evening she was on dunny duty.

5. This is a nation of neat freaks

Judging by social media, the most popular thing Kez has done on I’m a Celeb is tell the other campers to clean up.

6. You can get away with a lot if you’re an old white man with a posh voice

After Stanley admitted he hadn’t done much, Amir Khan told him that “we need people like you in the camp, you keep us all smiling” (no obvious comparisons in the Labour Party spring to mind). Once again, the man channelling David Attenborough is on top.

7. Go hard or go home

Much of the mutterings around Kez appear to stem from her failure to drink two smoothies, one made of bull’s anus and the other made of pig and ostrich anus. Once again, she was up against her former nemesis, Iain. After the buzzer went, Iain flung his shoulders back and downed one after another. Kez hunched her shoulders, drank most of one, and retched.

By this point, Iain was chugging the second – white foam dribbling triumphantly down his beard – before he put it on his head in celebration. From the start it looked like Kez didn’t really want to drink two smoothies made of animal genitalia, and it showed. Which begs the eternal Blue Planet question, wouldn’t a three-week holiday to an Australian coral reef be nicer?

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.