Jenny Gilruth: Kezia Dugdale has the strength to cope with jungle fever

© SuppliedJenny Gilruth with her partner Kezia Dugdale on the coastal path near St Monans.
Jenny Gilruth with her partner Kezia Dugdale on the coastal path near St Monans.

Jenny Gilruth, a Fife SNP MSP and the partner of Kezia Dugdale, reveals the background to the former Scottish Labour leader deciding to go into the jungle.

Kez loves Fife. She loves beach walks along the coastal path. She loves a ham salad roll from Carlton’s in Markinch.

She loves the people – I think I can safely attest to that.

Before Kez entered the jungle, she was issued with her ‘jungle boots’. You’ll have seen them on the show – heavy duty walking boots which each contestant must wear.

She had to break them in, so we went walking. Along the West Sands of St Andrews beach. Up and around Ballo Reservoir near the Lomond Hills. Through Balbirnie Park.

Indeed, the night the story was leaked, Kez had been speaking at a Glenrothes Labour Party meeting. ‘From Glenrothes to the Jungle’, I saw someone tweet. Cheeky.

Our lives have had more than a few parallels.

Kez spent a lot of her childhood growing up in Fife – she moved to Newport at the end of Primary School. My Dad was born in Newport and that’s where he grew up.

Kez was born in Aberdeen. So was I. Almost exactly three years to the day apart, in the same hospital. Kez was brought up in Elgin before moving to Fife.

I was brought up near Banff, half an hour away, before my family moved to Fife. Kez was meant to go to Madras College, where I went to school in St Andrews.

But her Mum worked for the council in Dundee, so she went across the bridge instead. Years later I would return to the North East, as a probationer teacher where her Dad taught. He interviewed me for Elgin High School’s newspaper, the Pigeon Post.

Our lives have certainly had some bizarre coincidences. Now we spend most of our time at my home in Markinch – half an hour from the villages in which we both grew up in Fife.

Kez is a very calm person. You’ll have seen that in Friday’s bush-tucker challenge. She is also exceptionally kind.

I don’t know if these human characteristics translate on reality TV; they rarely do in the political bubble, but nonetheless her grit should not be underestimated.

Sexual harassment was the only story in Holyrood for the past three weeks. Now the show has moved on and it’s jungle fever.

The Labour Party monster themselves publicly – whilst their former leader eats rice and beans in the jungle.

Maybe it’s fitting.

Either way, I’ll be counting down the days until we can go for a ham salad roll in Markinch again.

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