Nich Starling is a former Lib Dem councillor and long time North Norfolk Lib Dem activist. He teaches at a primary school in Norwich and although having stood down from front line political involvement, he remains an approved Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate although not actively seeking selection. Nich now devotes most of his time to his young family and his work at an inner city school in Norwich. His blog is Norfolk Blogger.
What made you decide to start blogging?
My interest was spurred on by a combination of withdrawing from main stream politics (due to marriage, starting a family and really committing properly to my work) and also my annoyance at the bias of the local press in my area which give a voice to commentators from the Tories, Labour and even the Greens, but no Lib Dem. I have also been a bit of a ranter, having been likened to be a cross between Victor Meldrew and Basil Fawtly, so I need a way to vent my spleen.
What is your best blogging experience?
Being interviewed by radio for for the PM show. It was nice to be noticed by them.
And your worst?
I don't know if there has been anything. Perhaps the worst moment was the realisation that some people who I thought were political allies were not that keen for a provincial blogger to tread on their turf. I am not and never will be one of the in crowd, and I was sad to find that mixing in the right circles at conference counts for so much.
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
One of my early ones, probably the one where I made clear Iain Dale was not evil after all. http://norfolkblogger.blogspot.com/2006/10/real-iain-dale-positive-thoughts-from.html
Iain Dale, Liberal England, Liberal Burblings, Irfan Ahmed, Daily Referendum and The Waendel Journal are the ones that stand out for me.
What inspired you to go into politics?
Frustration at the decisions being made and a realisation that whilst the country didn't work under Labour, the Tories only created division and unhappiness. It saddens me to see this country so let down by the people who run it. I basically felt I couldn't sit back and whinge without becoming more involved and having a crack at changing it. I feel I have done my bit and am sure my activity made a difference when the Lib Dems took North Norfolk in 2001 by 483 votes. Ten years of effort, knocking on doors, and delivering literally tens of thousands of leaflets must have played a part.
You recently bemoaned the current state of the BBC and criticising it from a fan's perspective. What would you do to change the Corporation?
I'd like to see the BBC drop dead weights like Andrew Neil who cheapen politics, are not funny, and show to much of a bias. Similarly, I'd like to see the reporting of politics to be done by people interested in real stories and less interested in tittle tattle. Ultimately though, I like the Beeb and feel we are all richer for it existing.
Can you see yourself standing in local elections again?
Perhaps in 20 years time but not now. I am not sure I actually enjoyed it at all. I remember feeling relieved the day of the 2007 elections knowing my phone would not ring again with a constituent's problem. I hope I did a good job as a councillor. I know people were pleased with some of the things I did, but ultimately, I am a probably better at the campaigning than anything else.
Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?
I'd like to go to Las Vegas.
Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
Mexico. Love the people, love the weather, love the attitude, basically a lovely lovely place.
Who, excluding the present leader, do you regard as the best Liberal Democrat/Liberal/SDP Party leader, and if different, the best Prime Minister?
Jo Grimond. Kept the Liberal Flame alive when it would have been easier to let it go out.
Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?
Norman Lamb MP. I first met Norman in 1992, shortly after the general election. the Tory majority was over 10,000, yet he explained how this could be overcome, what his vision for North Norfolk was and how he felt that this could be done by giving people a real confidence in politics, the political process and their elected politicians. I think he has done this. In North Norfolk we have had local council by-elections on cold winter days with 70% turnouts and general elections turnouts are always around 75%. Norman now has a majority of 10,000 and you can't find a constituent with a bad word to say about him. Even Tory councillors used to tell me privately that they voted for him. That speaks volumes.Other than Norman, John Stuart Mill. I studied him and wrote a decent essay at university about him. Some of his ideas make great sense, some are a little bit politically incorrect.
Favourite Bond movie?
As a child I grew up with Roger Moore as my Bond so my particular favourite is probably Moonraker or Live and Let Die.
Favorite Doctor Who?
I am tempted to say Tom Baker who was in the role when I was a kid, but I actually think David Tennant is the best because the show is so good now.
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
Mint. My wife also dislikes mint so she wouldn't try and eat some of mine.
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
Any music fan would want to see The Beatles. Otherwise, Level 42 ? Seriously, I was a big fan in the 1980s.
In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?
I went to Cambridge a couple of years ago. Spent a whole afternoon trying to find a pub with Sky Sports instead of 6 nations Rugby. I found Cambridge too "up itself", so wouldn't go there again. So given that Oxford is probably very similar, I would give Barsby a try.
Favourite national newspaper?
What would you say your hobbies were?
Going to watch Norwich City (I know, a glutton for punishment), and being with my family. That takes up all my time.
And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
Favourite songs - Night Boat to Cairo (Madness) - Parklife (Blur) and Mr Blue Sky (ELO)
Books - A Short History of almost everything (Bill Bryson), The Rise and Fall of Great Powers (Paul Kennedy), Stalingrad (Anthony Beevor)