Lembit Öpik writes… Why I’m going on “I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here!”

As you may know, I’m hoping to be selected as the Lib Dem Mayoral candidate for London. For various reasons, the internal Party process has been postponed till around next summer, though I myself have been short-listed to be part of that selection process.

I’m concerned to ensure that, in the meantime, we don’t vanish off the face of the electoral earth as Boris and Ken forge ahead with their campaigns. For this reason, I’m doing my best to illustrate what “Lembit’s London” would look like, and the nature of the campaign itself.

Part of this will be sharing my policy positions. I’d summarise my campaign as “Freedom for the city, power to the people.” This motif centres on three key areas – Libertarianism, Localism and Labour (not the Party! I mean the workers who keep this city going).

But the best campaigning narrative in the world is pointless unless people are actually interested in it, and have some association with the people putting it forward. Being worthy is not empowering to the public if you’re anonymous and can’t generate the coverage to get the message across.

For this reason, I’ve decided to appear on the reality television show “I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out Of Here!” It’s a great opportunity to get direct to the viewing public, and show, in what I believe to be a generally fair programme, how I operate in a team, under pressure and in a competitive environment.

Obviously, it’s a reality television show, and not Question Time. But, perhaps more than any other reality programme, it does tend to reveal character. I’m hoping this will be of use as we try to ensure that the Lib Dems aren’t forgotten in the Mayoral campaign.

My appearance on the programme will generate varied views – and that’s the point: it WILL generate views, which is crucial to prevent us from becoming invisible in the Mayoral campaign.

I’ll do my best to participate in the team collectively inhabiting the jungle. I aim to play my part in terms of the rules and the spirit of the exercise. I expect it will be an important journey personally, and I’ll learn a lot about myself, as will the others. It’s one of the attractions of the programme.

See what you think, and feel free to express your views on the matter. While, obviously, I’m not going to be in a position to respond myself, Ed Joyce, my Campaign Manager, will no doubt share our collective views and engage in dialogue in the time I’m in the jungle.

I hope you enjoy the show, and whatever your view, I hope you’ll agree that even when I’m in the woods, I’m definitely not the kind of candidate who’d disappear into the woodwork.

See you on the other side and all the best for now,

Lembit Öpik

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th Nov '10 - 11:27am

    Actually, I’m currently working on an idea for a new reality TV show, provisionally entitled “I’m a Liberal Democrat – Get Me Out of Here!”

    The basic scenario is that a group of politicians are stranded in the middle of an inhospitable coalition and forced to swallow all kinds of disgusting policies. They get voted off one by one, and the winner is the last one to retain his seat.

  • Sheesh, “I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out Of Here!” – really scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Thank goodness I never watch this trashy programme. Only hope the area of jungle chosen is full of highly venomous snakes!

    You write, “perhaps more than any other reality programme, it does tend to reveal character.” Hah! I would have thought that this is the last thing you would have wanted if you are standing for election and seek public support!

    One of the few things worse than celebs is celeb-politician hybrids.

  • Campaigning on the 5 Ls then: Lembit, London, Libertarianism, Localism and Labour.

    Have you considered Liberalism?

  • Is he being paid?

  • Any news on those Labour proposals on student fees Aloysius – or are Labour chickening out

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th Nov '10 - 11:41am


    Why on earth ask me?

  • Anthony Aloysius St 12th Nov '10 - 11:45am

    Oddly, he won’t be the first Lib Dem London mayoral candidate to appear on the show:

  • Well if he eats any bugs that’ll be the animal welfare vote gone as well ……..

  • He must be stopped.

  • You still don’t understand why the voters voted you out of one of the safest Lib Dem seats in the country do you Lembit? Hint: It was precisely because of things like this, voters don’t vote in MP’s so they can do the Z-list celebrity culture rounds with minor soap opera stars and ex big brother housemates and ladies who are famous for sleeping with footballers, they vote them in so they can represent them and serve the community as their representative.

    If you really think that going on “I’m a Celebrity get me out of here” is a valid stepping stone to becoming the mayor of London your, and I really can’t think of another way to say this, exhibiting all the self awareness of a house brick.

    You might also have to rethink the campaign slogan, “Power to the people” has already become quite famous in Britain due to the massively popular sit com Citizen Smith in which it was the catchphrase of the self deluding Marxist liberator and fighter for the “FREEDOM FOR TOOTING! but only for tooting broadway, not tooting bec. they’re a bit snooty down there.”, Wolfie Smith.

    Maybe you should stick to the (very bad) jokes and we’ll do the politics, to paraphrase your stand up comedy catchphrase.

  • Oh lembit… if you’re so keen to win London for the Lib Dems rather than just keep the last flickers of your celebrity aflame, why on earth have you not turned up to help in a single council byelection in London since May?

  • Just when you think Lembit can’t get any more pathetic and embarrassing…
    thankfully, I don’t know any LD that want him to be our candidate (anybody by Lembit sums up the general feeling) so not much chance he’ll be.

  • “I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here!” Words that Nick Clegg may use quite soon when faced with protestors.
    —————- —————–

    Good luck with it. I won’t be watching. I watched some of the first series, but the novelty wore off quite quickly. I’m sure it will hep you reach a wider audience, though I think you made better choice, and will achieve better audience reach, by presenting on Press TV.

  • I don’t know aloysius – maybe because all you ever do on here is whinge and moan about the Lib Dems without coming up with an answer of your own

  • What is more damaging to the party? A Liberal Democrat politician making a fool of himself on a trashy TV programme, or the Leader of the Party and sundry senior colleagues propping up a right-wing Tory government?

  • Hm. I’m sure you’ll get many opportunities while in the jungle to discuss your vision for London. And I’m sure it’s nothing to do with a bucketload of money and tawdry attention-seeking. Really, it’s almost as venal and shameful as the Lib Dems’ abandonment of their principles over the budget cuts. Disgraceful.

  • David Allen 12th Nov '10 - 1:07pm

    “I’m definitely not the kind of candidate who’d disappear into the woodwork.”

    Boring beetles, eh? Lembit will just eat them up!

  • David from Ealing 12th Nov '10 - 2:19pm

    Yes, doesn’t he ever learn?

  • Leviticus18_23 12th Nov '10 - 2:21pm

    Ken will be pleased if you get selected. With Lembit as opposition he won’t be coming last.

    At the moment Nick Clegg is destroying the LibDems by being Cameron’s lapdog, you seriously think going on ‘I’m a Celebrity’ is a good idea? Can I have a double of whatever you are having?!?

  • I don’t know what’s more tragic, Lembit thinking that appearing on this show is actually a good idea, or him thinking that he -and practically every other Lib Dem now – has a chance of winning an election.

  • Angry – don’t worry, most Lib Dems don’t want him to be candidate!

    I think he’ll do well, but it’s not the way to go about promoting yourself as a politician. Look what happened to George Galloway…

  • “I’m doing my best to illustrate what “Lembit’s London” would look like”…..”for this reason, I’ve decided to appear on the reality television show”

    in his own succinct words, the case against his being a suitable candidate for the London mayoralty!

  • With a bit of luck this will kill off any chance he may have had of being our candidate for London mayor. If the comments here are anything to go by, it will.

  • Emsworthian 12th Nov '10 - 4:26pm

    What has London done to deserve Lembit? Pleeeeze find somebody else, anybody.

  • If you look at Lembit’s website, you’ll see that his helpers come from the free market “libertarian” fringe of the party.

  • >While it could be said Lembit will have a chance to redeem himself in the public’s eye through his appearance, the truth is that this rarely happens

    Oh I dunno. Ann W shuffles round a dance floor for a few weeks and suddenly, she’s a National Treasure.

    Given that Londoners have previously elected Ken and Boris, maybe there’s no point fielding a serious candidate.

    Don’t suppose a certain meerkat is a party member? 😉

  • Agree with the general sentiment. It seems clear that Lembit is using his political profile to boost his celebrity one. Sad.

  • David Allen 12th Nov '10 - 6:52pm

    “It seems clear that Lembit is using his political profile to boost his celebrity one.”

    Not a bad idea, come to think of it. Hey Nick, we’ve found something you could do to seriously change what the public think about you….

  • Cheltenham Robin 12th Nov '10 - 7:04pm

    As Lembit is on the show I assume that they’re now including non celebrities.

    Seriously though, I think it rhymes with clucking bell.

  • Ian Patterson 12th Nov '10 - 9:54pm

    I knew Lemit before he became a wannable celebrity, this is a grief to all his old friends in the north.

  • As promised I am responding to the points raised. First and foremost our campaign considered the effect on the Liberal Democrat Party of Lembit going onto ‘I’m a celebrity’. Nobody has posted to say that this event is an issue to the party, only that it is bad for Lembit. Lembit and his team takes the view that we need a high profile candidate, but also that the way that our candidate is portrayed is critical. This program is a risk because it can make or break people in the public eye, but it’s a risk that has been taken after careful consideration and with the interests of the party foremost in our thoughts. Lembit has a fun side but can also be serious. He is articulating a left libertarian agenda, which is sympathetic to the needs of the C/D/E’s, the lower middle class, and the white van man. Lembit seems to reach out to these people in a way that few in the party can.

    Six months have gone by and in that time Lembit has shown a strong commitment to the mayoral campaign. He has released plans to bring into the party ununionised labour and Central and East European voters. In the past reaching out to these groups of voters has not necessarily been at the forefront of Lib Dem campaigns, but Lembit is a ‘Heineken’ candidate who can reach the parts other Lib Dem politicians cannot. I have no doubt that an alternative politician can be pressed into standing but it would be better if we can find a way to bring the party behind Lembit. He wants to take this on and who has a strategy to win and the profile that is necessary. Lembit needs to meet the criticisms that are being raised and his campaign team is looking to reach out to critics in the party some of whom we have contacted directly. Clearly Lembit’s campaign needs to get out to bye elections in London and we need to do more visits to local parties like our recent visit to Croydon.

    Yes there is a danger in the current path but the danger is to Lembit and his campaign not to the party that Lembit and his supporters have committed a large part of their lives to or to the cause of liberalism. The mayoral campaign gives an opportunity for a new approach to be tried. We are at 4% in the polls and yet Lembit is 20-1 to be mayor so we want to press on with the campaign but also do what is needed to win over the blogsphere and the wider London party. We will work on that on Lembit’s return. The party gains by Lembit standing in the selection process because it gives the party an alternative option. We don’t know what the effect of the show will be but I do know that Lembit and his team will fight for the nomination. We hope it is Lembit who wins but as loyal party members we will ultimately campaign hard for whoever is successful.

    Any local parties who want Lembit to visit please contact me. My phone number is under ‘We Need You’ on the http://www.lembit4london.co.uk website.

    Ed Joyce

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Nov '10 - 1:01am

    “I don’t know aloysius”

    If you don’t know why you’re doing something it may be a good idea to stop doing it …

  • Anthony Aloysius St 13th Nov '10 - 1:08am

    “Indeed, but Brian Paddock wasn’t seeking nomination as a candidate for elected office when he did so.”


  • The Winners

    Series 1 2002 Tony Blackburn
    Series 2 2003 Phil Tufnell
    Series 3 2004 Kerry Katona
    Series 4 2004 Joe Pasquale
    Series 5 2005 Carol Thatcher
    Series 6 2006 Matt Willis
    Series 7 2007 Christopher Biggins
    Series 8 2008 Joe Swash
    Series 9 2009 Gino D’Acampo

  • Lembit Opik … the Joe Pasquale of British politics!

  • I like a politician with a little personality, which is exactly what a mayoral candidate needs. Serious politicians don’t stand a chance, you need someone with the exact kind of traits that Mr Opik has. Just IMO.

  • david thorpe 14th Nov '10 - 9:47am

    Lembits strategy to climb the greasy political pole appears to be to try to be a low rent boris johnson, by recahing the public in other ways than the normal political channels.
    The difference is that Boris, apart from appearing on Have I got news for you was editor of a national political magazine, and columnist for a newspaper which his partoes membership and voters read i,.e. he had an intelelctual hinterland away from the comedy and celebrity.
    Lembit has shown none of this hinterland and so wont be taken seriously be an electorate.
    Many Lib dem Mps set out their views by contriobuting articles and chapters of books (orange book, or redefinfing the state) others like sarajh teather or jo swinson through campaigning…..
    lembit is one of the few MPS DO HAVE CONTRIOBUTED NOTHING TO THese debates, and that detracts from his seriousness

  • Ed Joyce:
    the problem with it is that the whole country will see what us LibDems already know: that Lembit is an embarrassment.. the danger being that they’ll think we’re all buffons, and even when he’s not selected, that we might have even been considered might hurt!

  • And hereby dies the final flickering chance Lembit Opik has of being selected by London members as the Lib Dem’s mayoral candidate.

    The impact this stunt will have on the party will thankfully be minimal. Simply because it will make Lembit even less likely to get selected in the first place. No selection = no damage.

    This isjust the latest in a very long line of poor decisions by someone who just doesn’t *get* the difference between being a serious politician and being a serious person. We don’t need ‘serious’ people in politics – yes. But people expect their politicians to have a degree of credibility, and not be embarassing media whorrs. Hence they need to be viewed as being serious about the politicis. Lembit is increasingly being know for a host of frankly shallow and embarassing endeavours, and not about politics.

    I hope when his campaign team are picking through the embers of a second failed selection process (ref Presidential 2yrs ago) next year they’ll think being in the Jungle was somehow all worth it.

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