Thursday, March 12, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXI: Tom Harris MP

(Tom Harris)

Tom Harris: Born 1964, Married to Carolyn with whom I have two sons aged 2, 4. I also have a 17-year-old son from a previous marriage. Journalist in local newspaper 1986-1990, press officer for Scottish Labour Party 1990-1992, public relations officer, mainly for local authorities 1993-1998, chief PR and marketing officer for Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive, 1998-2001, MP since 2001. PPS to John Spellar (Minister of State for Northern Ireland) 2003-2005. OOS to health secretary Patricia Hewitt, 2005-2006. Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport, September 2006-October 2008.

What made you decide to start blogging?

Mainly because I was unhappy with the perceived dominance of the blogscape by Tory and right-wing blogs. I also wanted to remind the public that MPs are ordinary people, with normal interests and family lives. Lastly, I wanted an outlet for my personal opinions and an excuse to do some writing, which I love to do.

What is your best blogging experience?

Probably the response to my recent post about "The return of morality". The overwhelming support for an admittedly controversial (but strongly held) view was very encouraging

And your worst?

"Heaven knows we're miserable now" last June. I felt very nervous at the media response. Journalists and photographers were turning up outside my home in Glasgow. It was basically bullying. I was still a minister at the time so I felt very uneasy, even though I didn't think I had written anything that wasn't true

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Favourite blogs?

Iain Dale, Sadie's Tavern, Guido, A blog from the backroom (Hopi Sen)

What inspired you to go into politics?

Ah, long story. I was a Christian, and involved in a very evangelical church, many of whose members were political but mostly Tory. I first became aware of politics through the church and first realised I was a Labour supporter by listening to the views of Tories.

Given the economic events of the past year, would you say that Thatcherism is mortally wounded?


Where is Labour lacking in the blogging community, and if we are lacking in some areas, what can we do to redeem it?

The Left needs a sense of humour, in the blogscape and elsewhere. We also need to be self-critical and admit where we've got it wrong, while taking the fight to the Tories and the Tory blogs. They get away with murder.

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

Australia and New Zealand

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

Tokyo and New York

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

Tony Blair and Tony Blair

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Tony Blair.

Favourite Bond movie?

Ooh, good question. Goldfinger. Every Bond film made since then has been a remake of it.

Favorite Doctor Who?

Jon Pertwee.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Chocolate. Obviously.

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?

The Times

What would you say your hobbies were?

Science fiction, astronomy and tennis

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

Songs: The Carpet Crawl (Genesis), Landslide (Dixie Chicks), Mr Blue Sky (ELO)Books: A Prayer for Owen Meaney (John Irving), Here Be Dragons (Sharon Penman), The Taste of Too Much (Cliff Hanley)

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