Saturday, February 07, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XLI: Sunny Hundal


Sunny is a freelance commentator, contributing regularly to The Guardian. He has also written several times for The Independent, The Times and other national newspapers. Mostly he writes about identity politics. He runs Pickled Politics and Liberal Conspiracy, and also blogs at The F Word

What made you decide to start blogging?

It started off with annoyance at the way people who talked about racism, religious extremism seemed to be constantly in the extremes. Either the world was full of racists, or there was no racism at all. I felt there was a space in the middle that wasn't being explored. And I wanted to have a more intelligent discussion around identity politics, taking issue with 'community leaders' as well as their opponents.

What is your best blogging experience?

It's difficult to pinpoint one experience as such. However, there's been a few things that have come out of my blogging which has helped me immensely. One was that the Guardian started noticing my writing and offered me space to write for Comment is Free. The other was that my thoughts and ideas sharpened to the point where we put together a 'manifesto' (New Generation Network) attacking the idea of community leaders. Pretty soon after that happened (Nov 2006), the whole model started collapsing. So I was particularly proud to be able to shift the discussion on race issues that way.

And your worst?

I've been threatened with libel a few times, including most notably by Guido Fawkes. That's never a pleasant experience. I also used to get easily annoyed by people misrepresenting what I said and saying I was a racist etc

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Honestly, it's difficult to say. I blog so much that its difficult to rate them or even remember them. Sometimes I write a blog entry quickly without much thought and it rated highly by readers, and sometimes it drops like a lead balloon. I'm proud of some of the articles I wrote during the Obama campaign for CIF on how race politics affected his campaign.

Favourite blogs?

Too many to mention. I love the cynicism that infects most British left-wing blogs, particularly Justin McKeating's Chicken Yoghurt ( and septicisle ( but I also admire Tim Ireland ( and Unity's ( dogged investigation into stories most people wouldn't bother chasing up.

I love reading the F Word blog (, Penny Red (, Bleeding Heart Show ( and Though Cowards Flinch ( I love the Boris blogs like Tory Troll (, BorisWatch( and Dave Hill (

but I mostly admire American blogs because they do so much interesting reporting and aggregation and discussion. Of these, I guess TalkingPointsMemo is probably my favourite, though DailyKos comes close for its energy and reach.

Pickled Politics is described as a blogging magazine. How has it developed in the past four years?

I think it's developed mostly with its arguments rather than a platform in itself. I did try and expand it by having 'diaries' but that proved too cumbersome. But in terms of editorial direction the site has changed along with the political climate... and I've sharpened arguments on there that have then spilled out into other projects.

Now that Barack Obama is President of the United States, what sort of changes do you think we will see with regards to the balance of left/right politics?

I think there will be some fractious debates on the left with a group supporting Obama, pragmatically, even over unpopular policies, and others taking a more cynical view.

But on the whole, it's a good time for leftwing policies since Obama has already passed through some good laws supporting unions, the environment, feminism and more. There's no doubt that even if Cameron does come into power, he can't veer too far into a right-wing agenda.

Can you see any damage to the BBC's impartiality if they broadcast the Gaza appeal?

No, I think they should have broadcast it, as they have with appeals in the past.

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

The Middle East, mostly, and South America. I end up just going to South Asia or the USA most of the time, which isn't broadening my horizons much right now...

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

I love keep going back to India and backpacking around. There's so much to see.

Do you have a favourite political figure in history?

I don't think I have a particular figure in history, though I do like to appreciate different ones. Mostly from the Indian independence struggle and older Indian history (which I've studied the best)..

Which figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Obama. I think it's underappreciated how skillful a politician he is - overshadowed by how much he inspires people. I worked on his campaign and I can appreciate how well conceived that operation was. Truly inspirational, in terms of politics.

Favourite Bond movie?


Favourite Doctor Who?

You know, I used to love the books but never really got into the television series unfortunately.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


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

Mmm.. not really big into concerts. It would probably be a hip-hop concert though.

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

I'll opt for Oxford since I've never been to Barsby, Cambridge is ok, and Leicester is just... well, less said the better.

Favourite national newspaper?

The New York Times.
If you mean just for the UK, then the Guardian.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Riding my motorbike, reading, playing poker, planning and scheming, writing, and erm, blogging (I'm not earning money from it, so it must be a hobby!).

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

I don't have three favourite songs, I have hundreds, depending on the mood. So I'll give you more books instead...

The Dice Man,
No Logo,
Crashing the Gate,
Gem in the Lotus
The Feeling Buddha

1 comment:

Newmania said...

Either the world was full of racists, or there was no racism at all. I felt there was a space in the middle that wasn't being explored. And I wanted to have a more intelligent discussion around identity politics, taking issue with 'community leaders' as well as their opponents.

Christ knows what the extremes look like then.