Monday, March 02, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXI: Ewan Aitken

Ewan Aitken is a very amateur blogger who manages the task of marriage, parenthood, local politician and church official with some well honed chaos. A former leader of City of Edinburgh Council he now heads up the church of Scotland's church and Society department. He still sits on the council, is a member of the Iona community, watched Edinburgh Rugby when he can and dreams of the day when Dunfermline Athletic can regain their former glories! His blog is Aitken's Edinburgh

What made you decide to start blogging?

When I was elected leader of City of Edinburgh Council it seemed a good way to make sure I remained accessible and allowed me to say things in a manner that I might otherwise not be able to. After we (Edinburgh Labour) lost power in 2007 I took a break but restarted having been cajoled/inspired by Kez Dugdale

What is your best blogging experience?
Watching a story I put up about a proposal by the present administration to change the name of librarians to "audience development officers" go world wide.

And your worst?
People making absolutely untrue claims in the printed media that I had deleted posts that despite my denial, became accepted as "fact"

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Not sure I have a sense of what is my best one. I prefer to let others judge that

Favourite blogs?

Tom Harris, Ian Dale, Kez Dugdale, Ideas of Civilisation (and I did like Adam Smith was a Socialist and was sad to see him depart the Blogosphere)

What inspired you to go into politics?
My theology is rooted in the idea that Christ was fully human and fully God, what's called incarnational theology, and that he calls us to work for justice, speak up for the struggling, walk with the suffering. Politics is a way of making things more just, to be in a place where those net heard can be heard and to make decisions that hopefully alleviate suffering. I should add that this is not the same as thinking that "God is on my side"! on the contrary, it demands that I think every time about how, in my political decision making, I am loving not just my neighbour and the stranger, but my enemy also and that sometimes I will get things wrong for I am as fragile and as full of human frailty as the next person. The bible might be a place of inspiration to a political life but it does not hold in detail the answer to every political decision!

How do you balance your faith commitments with your political commitments, and and where do you draw the distinctions if there are any?

I have always argued that I am a minister who happens to be a politician. I see not dividing line between the two. The Iona Community of which I am a member talks of prayer and politics meaning praying as if its only God that can sort out the words problems and then gutting up of your knees and living as if its only you that can sort them out.

What is unique about Edinburgh, compared to other major cities in the UK?
In a tiny city you have beauty, world famous culture, history built into its very walls, international commerce, huge educational depth and its 15 minutes in the bus from the city centre to the seaside. Edinburgh is the cradle of the nationals soul, the place that feeds its heartbeat and I love that

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

Alaska. (I loves that series a few years ago called Northern Exposure, if you remember it)

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

New Zealand and India. My wife and I back packed round the world on the mid 90's. India inspired me because of its astonishing mix of cultures and ideas and challenged me because of its huge poverty. new Zealand is the friendliest country I have ever been to and very very beautiful

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

I think Clement Attlee made the best of the opportunities afforded him as leader. You only have a chance to do a couple of really big things when you have power because the time when folk want change will come quicker that it takes to make real change no matter how good you are. He was not a great orator or a huge presence but he made the very best of what he had at a time when we really needed him to. Of those that never made it, John Smith was the man. With him we'd have had a smaller majority and done more with it.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?
Keir Hardie and Geoff Shaw (1st leader of Strathclyde Region). Keir Hardie because of his deep contribution to the shaping of the Labour Party yet he never became a mainstream politician and Geoff because he gave his life to his people

Favourite Bond movie?


Favorite Doctor Who?

Close call between Tom Baker and David Tennant. I absolutely love the fact that now we sit as a family enjoying the same programme that is a key part of my childhood memories

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Fairtrade Chocolate as that's the only chocolate I will eat

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

Irish folk singer Christy Moore or the Beatles

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

Tough one that, probably Barsby because I have not been there before and that would be interesting...

Favourite national newspaper?

Herald for its columnists

What would you say your hobbies were?

Watching Edinburgh Rugby, Veggie cooking, Suduko and most of all time with my kids (not a hobby but how I like to spend my leisure time

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
I always think the answers to these type of questions changes depending on when you are asked then!
Take this Moment (Iona Community song)
Are we human (Killers)
Search for the hero (M people)
George Macleod Ron Ferguson
The Political Brain Drew Weston
Letter to Daniel Fergal Keane

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