Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part I: Kerron Cross

(The Voice of the Delectable Left)
Kerron Cross was born in 1977 and was educated at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge (Known as Anglia Polytechnic University at the time). He works as a Research Assistant for Andy Reed MP and for the past year has run a blog known as Kerron Cross - The Voice of the Delctable Left:

What made you decide to start blogging?

I had an election blog during (and in the run up to) the 2005 General Election. It was hosted by our local Labour Party and is still online I think at http://www.swherts.labour.co.uk/ViewPage.cfm?Page=12081 - not the catchiest web address in the world to remember! That blog was a million miles away from the Delectable Left stuff though – it was simply a record of what I was doing on a day by day basis as a local councillor and Parliamentary Candidate in SW Herts. Although it had a bit of a cult following, in truth it was more than slightly worthy/dull and too specialised for anyone other than my political opponents to check it that regularly. Following the end of the General Election campaign – and the unsurprising fact that Labour didn’t win SW Herts! – I made the difficult decision to pack the site up. I did have a few people wanting me to keep writing and it had given me a taste to do something a bit different. Having seen your blog at Mars Hill I realised it would be quite easy – and more importantly – free(!) to set up a blogspot blog. That was this time last year, and the rest as they say is history. I have always said that The Voice of the Delectable Left doesn’t try to be Panorama and take itself too seriously – it’s just my (hopefully) witty take on life and things as I see it. For example you are as likely to get a post about Right Said Fred or David Hasselhoff as you are politics – and I think people like that for some strange reason!

What is your best blogging experience?

They are all good really, but I guess meeting new people via your site is the best thing. That sounds incredibly sad, but there is a diverse blogging community out there to engage with. Aside from that I’d have to say the best thing is when you have started a running joke, or broken a story no-one else has thought of. That is what makes your site different, gives it its individual charm and gets people coming back. Some of the running jokes, like the one about David Cameron being my evil twin seem to have taken on a life of their own! And I’m still impressed that I got Sadiq Khan to change his blog pic and helped Right Said Fred to reform. ;-)

And your worst?

Apart from Blogspot being notoriously unreliable, I could say being put on E-bay for 25p by a fellow blogger when I was single and attracting no bids but in truth I’ve been very lucky. The style of my site is that the posts are not meant to offend anyone or anything like that so I’ve not really attracted any controversy. In fact in the last year I’ve only removed one post from the site – and that is when I ill-advisedly posted up pictures of my then long-term partner cheating on me when she was in France. It wasn’t offensive or overly bitter, it was just that I couldn’t bring myself to stare those pictures in the face every day I looked at my blog. The only person I tend to upset is myself! For info, the person in question is no longer my partner.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I don’t know what other people would think my best entry was, but for me it’s the stuff that still makes me laugh now. I like the early stuff most maybe the I Slow Down For Badgers post or Me and the Tory Leadership fairly typical self effacing humour and it’s stuff that I still refer back to in some of my current blog posts. The observations till stand up a year on. I hope. I know something people also like are the ongoing stories concerning my work colleagues – Travis, Dave and James. Fortunately they seem relatively happy with their cameos on the site.

Favourite blogs?

I have a few that I regularly read. Mars Hill and Barry’s Beef, because they are entertaining, but also where I get most frequent mentions/abuse; Recess Monkey for my scoops – although unfortunately it seems to have tailed off a bit in recent weeks and most of the other Labour blogs, Lisa Rullsenberg, Lola and Pootergeek should probably get mentions at this point. I would say Tom Watson but any attempt to open his site normally causes my computer to crash. In truth I try and read all blogs from all sides. Even the Tory ones. If it makes you laugh, that’s good to my mind. And let’s face it listening to Tories is bound to make you laugh sooner or later. I’d recommend Iain Dale for humour and Guido Fawkes for scoops.

What inspired you to go into politics?

I presume by the question you mean why did I decide to stand for elected office – because I think most of us are interested or aware of very basic politics from an early age. For me I grew up in the 1980s in the middle of ultra-Conservative Hertfordshire. I never knew anything but Tory Government till 1997 – although you could argue that I was around between 1977 and 1979 under Callaghan, I have to admit to be more bothered with rusks than elections at that point! Needless to say, coming from a fairly poor family in a very affluent area, the Thatcher years more than left a mark on my political beliefs. On becoming a councillor, I guess I kind of fell into it. I had been involved in leading social action and community work at my church – you know, getting pot-holes fixed, setting up recycling schemes, litter collection and graffiti clear ups and so on. From there I was asked to stand for the Parish Council – which was non party political – as an environmental campaigner and then after a failed attempt to get on the District Council where I lived, I was invited to stand for Labour in nearby South Oxhey. All in all, I’ve been a councillor 5 and a half years now – and I stood for Parliament in my home constituency (SW Herts) in the 2005 election. It’s all steam-rollered from there really. Although having worked for an MP for 7 and a half years helps, I suppose!

Why do you take such a dislike of the Lib Dems?

I thought you may ask something along these lines, it’s something I’ve become almost famous for. The truth is that I find the Lib Dems campaigning style deeply disingenuous, nasty, deliberately misleading, personal and venal. Having been on the receiving end of it, I thought it was a one-off, but then you realise that not only is the behaviour widespread it’s actually condoned and sent out as standard practise by the party. Every election is a “two-horse race” where “only we can win here”. The ubiquitous bar chart, which is not to scale. Where if no statistics actually support that “only a Lib Dem can win here” so “don’t waste your vote on the Labour/Conservative candidate” then their “private poll shows” that “only we can win here”. They say anything to anyone on the doorstep – whatever you want to hear. Different policies for different parts of the country – even though any policies they do have are kept deliberately low-key or vague. But the most annoying thing is the piety of their spokespeople saying that they “hate ya boo politics”, and “mudslinging” and the behaviour of the other 2 parties. My problem is not so much their negative campaigning, it’s then that they pretend that they do not negatively campaign. The Lib Dem strategy seems to play well with voters in by-elections when voters are looking for a protest vote, but it is also why are they are thoroughly hated by the other 2 parties – more than the Tories and Labour probably hate each other. I mean for me, I can disagree with a Tory fundamentally on everything but still respect them as a person and as a politician, but I can’t say the same for most Lib Dems I know. Which reminds me of one of my favourite Lib Dem lines: “Don’t vote for a politician, vote for a Lib Dem” – what does that mean? Thoroughly horrible and nasty party that deserves to be revealed to the public for what it is.

How does it feel to be the "Father of the Commons Research Assistants"?

Erm, again, this is one of those funny little “facts” that has sprung up about me, I don’t think it’s true by the way, but it’s a good myth to have as political myths go. I have been around for a good few years, but I have never been Special Advisor to Stafford Cripps – as has been suggested – or sat in on Clem Attlee’s Cabinet meetings. I’m proud to have been involved for so long promoting Labour values in parliament and serving people in Loughborough, as well as having a little policy input. Actually I think there must be longer serving Tories here than me – although it’s not a bad title to hold, it does make you feel that your life is slipping away from you somehow! In all seriousness, I do know one guy who has been here longer than me (by one month) and he suffers terrible depression – perhaps that says it all really!

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

I’ve always said that I’d like to visit Canada, New Zealand and Ireland. I know which of those is more likely! Being half Manx (that’s where the name comes from incidentally) I do love the quiet island life, lovely scenery and slow pace of things. Places where everyone seems far more relaxed and laid back…and polite!

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

Well, when we were younger, we never had the money to travel, so I’ve only been abroad a handful of times. Although it’s not really abroad, I would say the Isle of Man. It’s like a home from home and I go back every year to see relatives. I absolutely love it and would recommend it to anyone who wants to get away from it all – although I can’t guarantee good weather, I’m afraid! Apart from that, I quite liked Menorca when I went a couple of years ago – people were friendly and the weather was good. Very peaceful.

Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?

Tough question. I’ve only really known Blair, Thatcher and Major – so if I can’t have Blair, I’m not about to pick one of the other two. So I guess Clem Attlee, for introducing the NHS (for starters),which is no mean achievement. If I was going to be cheeky/provocative, I’d say the best Prime Minister will be the next one – Gordon Brown. ;-)

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration

It sounds cheesy, but it’s people who have encouraged me along my own personal journey through life. So I’d pick Brian Plumridge, who used to run the youth group at my first church – Fuller Hall (Brethren) and my boss, Andy Reed MP. Although being from different ends of the political spectrum both have been great roll models about how to treat other people and about how to make a difference in the lives of others – without making a song and dance about it. Either than saying Jesus, I have to say I never really look to “identify” with Biblical or historical figures – although I did get to play St Peter in a recent theatrical production, so by rights I should say him.

Favourite Bond movie?

Goldeneye. Fantastic movie, the funniest of all the Bond movies made. More comedy than action, and brilliantly pitched, in my opinion. That’s how I prefer my Bond movies. The follow up was probably more action and very little comedy, it was a great disappointment. But not as disappointing as the Timothy Dalton years, obviously.

Favorite Doctor Who?

Well, I grew up watching the Jon Pertwee and Peter Davison ones, so I guess they were my favourites growing up. Thought the Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann years were awful, never watched it. Chris Eccleston was amazing when they brought Dr Who back and David Tennant has followed it up with a very different but also very entertaining Doctor. I suppose on reflection, I’d pick Eccleston because he made the part watchable again and it was wonderful Satruday night viewing for all the family. Without Eccleston, we wouldn’t have David Tennant, so that’s my reasoning – although I like both of them.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Are we talking ice cream? Vanilla I guess – it’s boring, steady but ultimately rewarding – which is like me! Love Haagen Daas though – Baileys flavour was nice, why don’t they make it anymore? I usually resort to the cheesecake ones now. It’s a hard life.

Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

I love Beautiful South and Barenaked Ladies, but as I’ve seen them in concert many times over, I’ll say Crowded House. Wish I’d seen them at their early 90s peak – I think Neil Finn is very under-rated as a musician and song-writer, love his work and would love to meet him. So I’ll say him. However, another person I find inspirational is Mike Nesmith from 60s TV band The Monkees – his solo work is wonderful, so I’d recommend people give his music a try, especially the early post-Monkees stuff. Saw him (and the other Monkees) at Wembley Arena in 1997 – Nesmith was brilliant. “Rio”, which was a number one in the year I was born 1977, remains my favourite song – it’s on the “Peter’s Friends” soundtrack if people want to listen to it.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?

I was at Uni for 3 years in Cambridge – at the Poly, and I spent 2 years on and off in Leicester. I suppose given my continuing links with Leicester, I’ll say Barsby – but I’ve never been, and probably am unlikely to ever go to it!

Favourite national newspaper?

The Guardian. I’m convinced they do things to upset me. I read most papers online, but in our house we get paper versions of The Sun, The Telegraph and The Daily Mail – which probably seems very odd for a dyed in the wool Socialist, but I always like to know what the opposition is saying!

What would you say your hobbies were?

Football, sport, supporting Watford FC, acting, writing and possibly even my girlfriend at times! ;-)

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books
(Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Songs often change. At the moment, it’s Rio by Mike Nesmith, There Is A Light That Never Goes Out – the Neil Finn and Johnny Marr live version and Tapioca Tundra by The Monkees – a song you hate at first but the more the listen the more you love – although I can’t believe I’ve picked a list without Old Red Eyes Is Back by Beautiful South, so maybe I’ll say that as my third choice instead. I’m not big on books, but I probably read more Shakespeare and Bible than anything else! I guess Things Can Only Get Better by John O’Farrell, even though he was quite terse with me, mind you, he does write for The Guardian! Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby. And The Importance of Being Earnest – technically a play but the best book I own. I also like Jane Austen and Charles Dickens, so I’ll mention them in passing too.

PAUL: Kerron slipped this one in himself!

What does “Kerron” actually mean?

“Kerron” comes from the Manx meaning “Dark Stranger”. I tell people it’s like “tall, dark and handsome” but more just “dark” and, er, “strange”. It’s pronounced so it rhymes with “heron” – just put a “k” at the front and you have it. Most people get it wrong, and although I’ve been called a lot of things(!), it doesn’t bother me as much as people think it does. Honest.


Skuds said...

Any chance of truncating those links? They play havoc with your formatting!

Paul Burgin said...

Blame Kerron, he arranged it like that! :/
Am a bit busy this week, but if I get a chance I will deal with it.

Paul Burgin said...

Dealt with!

Kerron said...

Er, you've actually taken out most of the links and references now!

Especially about who I read!!!

Sort it out Paul!

(The reason I left the links originally is because I replied in Word.)

Kerron said...

Erm, and at the mo my favourite ice cream has a response about why the Guardian is trying to upset me. It's surreal.

See what you've done Skuds? :-p

Paul Burgin said...

I am having major problems trying to format it. Have changed it totally every time, only to find that blogspot eat up half of what I have done! :(
Wish I had never taken up Skuds advice :(
How can something so simple, such as cutting and pasting an interview from my e-mail account cause such havoc! :(

Paul Burgin said...

Am saving it, albeit painfully, piece by piece. Hopefully that will help. So apologies if there is a mess at present!

Paul Burgin said...

Have tried, and I can't move a snails pace without a link failing to get published or the previous sentence going missing, so I have done it as it was originally.

Kerron said...

See if you had left it as it was, you wouldn't be having this trouble. :-)

Paul Burgin said...

Well I am leaving it as it is now and thats that!

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Been re-reading thanks to Paul B and have just spotted what eluded me before: a reference to "Tapioca Tundra" by the Monkees. Ye heck, I thought I was the only one on the planet to like that track!

And I'm with you generally on Mike Nesmith who was always my favourite of the Monkees.