Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LIII: Derek Wyatt MP

(Derek Wyatt MP)
Derek Wyatt: I was first elected to the House of Commons for the new constituency of Sittingbourne and Sheppey in north Kent in May 1997. I had previously been a Labour borough councillor for Archway in the borough of Haringey in north London. I was re-elected in June 2001 and again in May 2005.

Before being elected as an MP, I was Director of The Computer Channel at BSkyB and travelled extensively throughout America from mid 1995 to research the internet and to assess its impact.

On arriving at Westminster I quickly formed the All Party Internet Group and I have been its chairman until in 2007 when at my suggestion we merged three all party IT groups and we are now called the All Party Communciations group and I am its new co-chairman. I am also chairman of the London 2012, the British Council and the Rugby Union groups.

The role of an MP is in a state of constant flux. Constituents expect you to be in their patch eight days a week and often feign surprise that you cannot make a meeting between mid Monday and late Thursday because you do actually have to be in Westminster to vote. MPs find that at Westminster they need to be there a further eight days a week! So far, MPs have sadly resisted electronic or text voting (unlike Scottish MSPs). The more we fail to modernise the more out of touch we appear.

In Parliament, I work at my office in Norman Shaw North on the Westminster estate. My staff there - Anna and Jenny - look after national and international issues as well that diary and additional case work. Between both offices, we reckon to have helped over 12,500 constituents. We do not win every case but we do our very best.

I work almost exclusively on email - wyattd@parliament.uk - and arrange for these to be forwarded to me remotely when I am away from the Office. Radio5Live said that I was "The fastest emailer in the West" when they ran a competition to find who was the quickest MP to respond to constituents emails!

In 2004, I was voted one of the top 100 internet visionaries over the past decade and subsequently my web site has won three national awards (New Statesman and British Computer Society x 2). For my role in updating the Computer Misuse Act, ISPA awarded APIG a special Heroes Award.

I was PPS to Rt Hon Margaret Hodge, Arts Minister and Gerry Sutcliffe MP, Sports Minister from 2007-09 at DCMS and I am now PPS to Lord Malloch Brown at the Foreign Office.*

What made you decide to start blogging?

Another way to report what u do as an MP

What is your best blogging experience?

Seeing how regularly the press call up to ask for more information

And your worst?

None so far

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

It is a weekly diary of what I do as an MP so not sure this is relevant

Favourite blogs?

Don't read them

What inspired you to go into politics?

Neil Kinnock taking on Militant

Can the Internet be regulated?

Yes it can; need to start with child pornography and build a treaty between nations

You were recently made PPS to Foreign Office Minister, Lord Malloch Brown. What are you enjoying most about working at the FO?

I was brought up in African and Hong Kong and he has in his brief most of that territory...plus my father and grandfather worked or were schooled in India and Sri Lanka and he has them too so it is a bit like coming home to areas I know well

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

I'd like to take the train from Stockholm to Beijing

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

Hong Kong which feels like a second home for me

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

Clement Attlee

Which political figures have been your greatest inspiration?

Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela

Favourite Bond movie?

Dr No

Favorite Doctor Who?


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..?


Favourite national newspaper?

New York Times

What would you say your hobbies were?

Jazz, writing, reading, travelling, philately, concerts, film, theatre, sport; collecting art, political cartoons and photographs

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

Homeward Bound - Simon & Garfunkel
Dance Me to the End of Love - Madeleine Peyroux
Like a Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance - Robert Persig
Jude The Obscure - Thomas Hardy
Coming Up for Air - George Orwell

*Many thanks to Derek Wyatt for suggesting his brief biography on his website. Portions of which are here.

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