Brian Monteith: Why Kezia needs to shout ‘Get me out of here’

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Why should we bother if it’s a great ­embarrassment to the ­Labour Party that one of its MSPs – and former Scottish leader to boot, Kezia Dugdale – should need three weeks away from her real job when she’s only just come back from the parliament’s October holiday?

So what if we never again believe Labour’s self-righteous dedication to public services and monopoly for compassion towards the downtrodden – after one of its most important parliamentarians takes the media shilling?

Kezia Dugdale is ducking her responsibilities, says Brian Monteith. Picture: James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock

Kezia Dugdale is ducking her responsibilities, says Brian Monteith. Picture: James Gourley/REX/Shutterstock

I really couldn’t care less about Labour’s discomfort and have no interest in whether or not it chooses to suspend or discipline Dugdale.

Where I do have a beef is with ­Dugdale’s self-serving justification for abdicating her role as a representative of the people.

In defending her decision to ­abandon her constituents for three weeks Dugdale is telling us that it gives her the opportunity to speak to millions about Labour values.

I need to let Dugdale into an open secret – firstly, thanks to broadcasting ethics, she will not be able to bore us with her concerns for social ­justice as the TV channel would then be required to provide balancing comment, and that just ain’t going to happen.

Countless retired politicians have been on the show, and former Tory MEP Stanley Johnson is already there, and not one has ever had the opportunity to change a single vote – other than putting people off by convincing us that, like Edwina Currie, they were repulsive characters.

This is a show meant to entertain us by making its “celebrity” competitors squirm as they are covered in snakes or cockroaches and challenged to eat the testicles of a crocodile and chew the ‘waddyacallit’ of a wallaby.

Hearing Dugdale preach the ­benefits of socialism would be far too painful and unbearable to watch. Viewers would switch off in droves.

More importantly though, she did not swear the oath as an MSP so she could travel to the other side of the world and regale us with her party’s political views. She can do that in her own time. She undertook to serve her constituent’s interest, if she doesn’t fancy that any more then she should resign.

Comparisons with other ­serving politicians are important. Tory MP Nadine Dorries infamously went on I’m A Celebrity in 2012 and was immediately suspended from the party whip and came out looking like a fool.

The issue at hand was her absconding during parliamentary time for so long a period – and that’s the same misjudgement Dugdale has made. Only the other week, Grade One ­referee and Tory MP Douglas Ross was criticised for being a linesman at a European Champions League match in Barcelona, missing an important vote on Universal Credit that evening.

The comparison here is different: it was only one day – not three weeks; unlike Holyrood, MPs can be excused if they “pair” with opposing MPs to cancel each other out; and the ­Conservatives had decided in advance to abstain from that vote. Ross was therefore not missed.

Even so, it was also a misjudgement and Ross has agreed not to officiate in any more European matches unless they are in recess – which is sensible. We can hardly complain that our ­politicians have no life experience if we restrict them for participating in the real world.

Ruth Davidson has also been ­criticised for taking part in a TV Bake Off charity event, but this was actually filmed during recess when politicians are quite at liberty to turn their hand to anything.

Some go for walks up mountains while others reacquaint themselves with their families. If we want our politicians to be human, we need to let them discover how to avoid soggy ­bottoms out in the wild.

Dugdale has disrespected her ­paymasters – her constituents – and the quicker she shouts “get me out of here” the better for all of us.