Thursday, February 19, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XLIII: James Cleverly

James Cleverly is the London Assembly Member (Conservative) for Bexley and Bromley. He is a member of the Assembly's Budget Committee, Environment Committee, Health and Public Services Committee, and Transport Committee. He is also a member of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

James comes from a background in web and print publishing. He has a business degree from Thames Valley University and before being elected as a London Assembly Member was the co-founder of Point & Fire Media Ltd, a company that runs websites helping entrepreneurs and small businesses grow and develop.

For over 15 years James has been an officer in the Territorial Army, rising to the rank of Major, and until 2005 was the officer commanding 266 (Para) Battery Royal Artillery (Volunteers).*

You can find his blog here.


What made you decide to start blogging?


I started in 2004 when I was the candidate for Lewisham East in the 2005 General Election. I wanted to show people that I was a human being and not just a carbon copy politician.


What is your best blogging experience?


The first time someone left a comment. Up until that point I really thought that only my wife and I read it.



And your worst?


Some of the vitriolic, ugly comments made about my wife in a post I wrote about breast feeding in public.
http://jamescleverly.blogspot.com/2007/06/breastfeeding-law.html



What do you regard as your best blog entry?


My two (is that allowed?) haiku posts for departing party leaders. I'm already planning my Gordon Brown one. http://jamescleverly.blogspot.com/search/label/Haiku


Favourite blogs?


Con Home, Iain Dale and Guido are all daily reads (I know how predictable), my colleague Roger Evans' blog is under-rated and well worth a read. I also enjoy watching the slo-mo car crash that is Labourlist.



What inspired you to go into politics?


My wife. I was shouting at Tony Blair on the TV not long after the 97 election, she said something like "either do something about it or shut up".



Describe in a nutshell, life as a London Assembly member, and how it compares with the life of an MP or MSP?


Assembly Members have almost no statutory power. This means I either have to persuade people to do things or use my positions on the MPA (Met Police Authority) or the LDA (London Development Agency) to get things done. It can be a bit frustrating but it does show that you don't need a constant stream of new laws to make a real difference.

You have recently joined Twitter (as have I), how addictive do you find it?


Very! I tried to get addicted a while back but I couldn't get into it. Twitter only really works when you follow a number of people and people follow you. If you think of it as a broadcast only tool you miss most of it's benefits.

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


The USA. I had a plan to do the west coast, but politics and then children put that plan on hold.


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


Rome, Susie (my wife) took me there for a surprise birthday weekend and I fell in love with the city.

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


It has to be Maggie, she shoot the party and the country out of a downward spiral, drove through policies she genuinely believed in and helped break the evil strangle hold that communism had over much of Europe. Should have stepped down six months earlier.


Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?


Churchill. Great despite his flaws, focussed and determined and willing to do what he believed to be right even against the tide of public opinion.


Favourite Bond movie?


Dr No. Sooooooooo retro chic.

Favorite Doctor Who?


Tom Baker, the only true Doctor!


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


Chocolate, vanilla is for putting on puddings and mint.... well what's the point?


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


The Rolling Stones in the late 60's/early 70's


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


Barsby, but only because I've never been there and it might be great.


Favourite national newspaper?


I only read them on-line these days and it has to be the Guardian (ha I bet that was a surprise).


What would you say your hobbies were?


Cycling, triathlon, rugby coaching, eating, sleeping


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


Books:
An Instance Of The Fingerpost - Ian Pears
A novel set in restoration England, with lots of real historic personalities woven into the plot. The book looks at the very question of truth, whether it is absolute or relative.

To Kill A Mockingbird - Harper Lee
A must read for anyone who wants to get an understanding of race and racism. In fact a must read for everyone.

1984 - George Orwell
To any Labour ministers reading this - It's a warning, not a bloody instruction manual.

Songs:
Creep - Radiohead
Sympathy For The Devil
Part of the Process - Morcheeba

* Bio and pic courtesy of the London Development Agency

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