Monday, February 23, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XLIX: Alex Folkes

Alex's blog is A Lanson Boy

: - I grew up in Cornwall and worked for the Liberal Democrats as a campaign manager for six years including being agent for South East Cornwall in 92 (we lost) and the Isle of Wight in 97 (we won) before joining the provisional wing of the Liberal Democrats - the Electoral Reform Society where I was spokesperson for 8 years. I then worked for Southwark Council before escaping back to Cornwall.
I was the Lib Dem agent at the South East Staffs by-election in 96 where we lost our deposit - a record which has only recently been broken.
I now split my time between charity fundraising (the day job) and photography with more than a little Lib Demmery thrown in for good measure.
I take pictures for the very good reason that it means that I don't have to be in the shot. When at ERS I wrote an article for the local paper who demaned a pic to go with it. So I found the best looking man in a magazine we had in the office and scanned him

What made you decide to start blogging?

I've always been someone who talks too much and blogging seemed to be a way of expressing my idiotic rants without taking up the time of anyone who wasn't desperate to hear or read them.

What is your best blogging experience?

I took pictures at the Prince's Trust awards last year ( and one of the stars on show was Lee Mead - who won the reality TV show to become Joseph in the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. Also there were Gwyneth Paltrow and Kevin Spacey. I put pics of all of them on the blog and it was the Mead photos which attracted all the attention. I was inundated with requests from his fans for more pics. I'm not entirely sure what they thought of the more regular normal political rantings.

On another occasion I did a silly post ( about the ridiculous names that some parents were giving their kids in New Zealand. One of them was called Number 16 Bus Shelter. Somehow I became the google number one search reference for Number 16 bus and so ended up with a few hundre hits from people keen to get from Cricklewood to Victoria.

And your worst?

Whenever I forget to spell check a post. I get grief

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I haven't written it yet is probably the safest answer. I liked winding Iain Dale up about a silly comment he made ( I enjoyed reporting back from a conference I went to in Beirut and the fascinating discussions I had with an Egyptian Liberal about engaging with extremists ( And I enjoy crafting a decent one-liner such as comparing Titian with Benjamin Button (he's getting younger everyday) (

Favourite blogs?

Dale is required reading even though he winds me up. Lib Dem Voice is getting consistently stronger and I'll read anything that Millennium or either of his daddies write.

What inspired you to go into politics?

David Penhaligon. I come from Truro and he was my MP and perhaps the most inspiring politician I have met or heard. After his death I helped with the by-election and got the bug. During a gap year between school and University I worked in Westminster for the Paddy Ashdown, Liberal Party Education Spokesman. Well, he was at the start. By the end he was Leader of the Liberal Democrats. By luck or by judgment I've been near the centre of things in my party for a while and met some pretty exceptional people but David started me off and still inspires me now.

Why do Lib Dems tend to do well in the South West compared to most other parts of the UK?

The regulation party answer is that we are no longer confined to the centic fringes. We run Liverpool, Newcastle, Sheffield etc and are in contention across the country. That's certainly true, but there's no doubt that we do have an advantage in this part of the world. There's no simple answer but a combination of hard work, inspiring leaders and an almost total absence of Labour answers much of it. And the fact that people down here are eminently sensible.

How did your interest in photography take off?

It was just a hobby to start off with. Then the FA stole my football club and the whole AFC Wimbledon thing took off. I went along with my camera to matches and provided pictures for the fledgling club and discovered that I was actually quite good at it. After doing pictures for one of my passions, it seemed logical to turn the same skills to the other and so I started doing pics for the Lib Dems. It still gives me a bit of a thrill to see one of my pictures in print - I think that still makes me an amateur.

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

There's always somewhere new to visit. I think top of my wishlist at the moment are Japan and Argentina.

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
Most of the places I've been to are for too short a period. I'd love to spend more time in Lebanon and I enjoy Belgrade - the attitude of the people ('I'm not just perfect, I'm Serb too') is something that the West failed to appreciate before the Balkan wars and it's part of the psyche. But my favourite city is the entirely unoriginal choice of Vancouver. It's fantastic in its own right but it is also the springboard to Vancouver Island and the west coast there is a kind of Cornwall-on-Pactific.
I'm not hankering for a swift return to Armenia though, particularly not if it means travelling Armenian Airways.

Who, excluding the present leader, do you regard as the best Liberal Democrat/Liberal/SDP Party leader, and if different, the best Prime Minister?

Paddy Ashdown was the right person at the right time. We needed someone to tell us what to do and he did. CK will not go down favourably in history and that is hugely regrettable. But he gave the party a human face.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

As mentioned above, David Penhaligon

Favourite Bond movie?

Connery for Bond himself, the new ones for adherence to the dark side of the books and (controversial) OHMSS for plot. Fave single movie would be You Only Live Twice.

Favorite Doctor Who?

Sorry, I'm one of the few non Who-loving Lib Dem bloggers. I grew up with Tom Baker though.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


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

I'd like to have been able to do Echo and the Bunnymen's Crystal Day in Liverpool

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

Cambridge. My grandmother lives there.

Favourite national newspaper?

Sorry, I'll conform to stereotype and pick the Guardian - Steve Bell's cartoons and the photos of Martin Argles and Danny Chung do it for me.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Photography and politics

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

Debaser by the Pixies, Villiers Terrace by the Bunnymen and Blue Thunder by Galaxie 500
Quite Ugly One Morning by Christopher Brookmyre, Resurrection Men by Ian Rankin and the Deathnote Series by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata - I quite like my manga.

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