Mike is 43 and was Labour's PPC for Shrewsbury in 2005. He is a former headteacher and now works nationally on school improvement issues. He is a member of Progress and the Fabian society and has written articles for the Guardian, the TES and the Fabian Review. Mike is a regular contributor to Stephen Nolan's weekend show on BBC Radio Five Live. You can find his blog at Mike Ion
What made you decide to start blogging?
I came across Tom Watson’s blog and thought it was an excellent way to engage with a wider audience about issues that interest me.
What is your best blogging experience?
When Tony Benn agreed to answer my questions. Tony came and supported my campaign when I stood in Shrewsbury in 2005 (I knew his wife Caroline and I have done some work with Melissa, his daughter).
And your worst?
Early on I posted a funny story about John Redwood that I had seen on Recess Monkey’s blog but I did not give the customary ‘hat tip’ and the Monkey (and Guido) were not happy!
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
My posting about the need for Labour, as a political party, to take blogging more seriously. It was picked up by Tribune and I have been invited to write a piece for the Guardian’s ‘Comment is Free’ – it will published in the next couple of weeks.
Tom Watson MP, Bob Piper, Norm’s blog, Iain Dale, Skipper and Austin Mitchell MP
What inspired you to go into politics?
I was a student in Liverpool in the 1980s and saw the damage that a Thatcher government did to our inner-city areas. I am also a member of Christian Socialists and have been influenced by the writings of several Liberation Theologians. My blog’s ‘strap line’ is a quote from the former Archbishop of El Salvador (Oscar Romero) who was assassinated in 1980 – ‘aspire not to have more, but to be more.’
Given the varied readership of Mars Hill. Tell us about Progress and your involvement with it?
Progress is an organisation of Labour party members that aims to promote a radical and progressive politics for the 21st century. It also aims to be a diverse and inclusive group, it works to improve the level and quality of debate both within the Labour party, and between the party and the wider progressive community.
I have written a couple of articles for the Progress magazine and was invited by Mark Day (publications officer) to help out with the launch of their new website and blog.
Do you plan to stand for Parliament again?
I think so. I am not a career politician. I have had a full life outside of politics and I have a job that I enjoy greatly. However I would relish the opportunity to play a more active role as an elected politician as I passionately believe that the ‘representation’ role of a local MP is something noble and well worth doing.
Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?
I would love to visit Australia and New Zealand – mainly for the surf and the mountains.
Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
The Amalfi Coast – great scenery, fantastic food and the Ravello festival, it does not get much better than that.
Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?
Clem Attlee was the antithesis of many of our modern political operators but he was shrewd, loyal and decent.
Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?
Nye Bevan stands out – I distinctly remember reading his biography (written by Michael Foot) when I was a teenager. I was also a huge fan of the late John Smith
Favourite Bond movie?
Live and Let Die
Favorite Doctor Who?
I cannot abide the programme!
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford , Cambridge , or Barsby, Leics..?
Are these the only choices? If so then Oxford wins hands down.
Favourite national newspaper?
What would you say your hobbies were?
I have recently got into mountain biking but I still play football as often as I can.
And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
Alright now – Free
Bittersweet symphony – The Verve
Somewhere only we know – Keane
The ragged trousered philanthropist – Robert Tressell
Grapes of wrath – John Steinbeck
Brick Lane – Monica Ali