Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXVII: Will Patterson

(Will Patterson)

Born and raised in Lancashire, 26-year-old Will Patterson is currently back in the North West of England working in the finance department of a major UK housing association, and trying to fight the current that is dragging him into accountancy. He's also the twisted genius behind J. Arthur MacNumpty <>, a blog discussing Scottish politics from an SNP perspective, which he picked up while at Edinburgh University and has up until now proven far more positive than the MA in Linguistics (which crashed and burned after he pinned his hopes on an over-ambitious dissertation, entitled /Consonant Length in Shilluk/) and the five-figure debt that he also got while he was there. When not working on his own blog, he sticks his oar into the Scottish Roundup <>, and writes a regular column on Scottish affairs for Welsh political magazine Barn <> despite his Welsh only going as far as the first verse of /Sosban Fach/. He's also started talking about himself in the third person (for which he blames Facebook) and, worse still, is enjoying it. He'll have to stop this as he's left written instructions with several of his friends to kill him if he starts doing it on a regular basis.

What made you decide to start blogging?

Basically, what it comes down to it that it was raining and I was bored! I was unemployed at the time, and as you can imagine, had a lot of time in my hands. Blogging helped take care of that!

What is your best blogging experience?

I'm going to cheat a little on this one as it's a recurring experience: editing the Scottish Roundup > on a regular basis! It's good to take in what everyone else is saying, and to see what they spot as their top posts for the week.

And your worst?

Again, it's Roundup related, one week we invited Anne McLaughlin <> (now an MSP) to edit a Roundup <> and all of a sudden, we found ourselves firefighting: Anne came in for some unfair criticism, and that's when the accusations of sexism started. I hit back <>, but things spun out of control.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I'd say it's "In Answer to Blagger1 <>" - as the title gives away, the post wasn't even my idea but came when a visitor to the blog asked me what the similarities were between the Glasgow East By-Election and the 1978 Glasgow Garscadden By-Election. After a bit of study, that post was my answer.

Favourite blogs?

SNP Tactical Voting <> - always sharp, always current, never bettered; Mr. Eugenides <> is always worth a read; Justified Spinner <> may not be overly prolific but I'd sell my soul to have a writing style and turn of phrase like that; Clairwil <> is blessed with the ability to make you laugh and think at the same time while Tom Harris <> reminds us all that Labour MPs are people too.

What inspired you to go into politics?

I was brought up in a very politically aware family; one of my earliest memories is seeing Arthur Scargill on the TV, so I've always been fascinated. I think though it was the Kosovo crisis that gave me my first taste of political campaigning and action - I was still at Secondary School at the time, and I got motivated enough to start a Shoebox appeal in my class. That's probably the big moment - my first brush with activism!

How do you see Scottish Independence going in the next few years?

It's not going to be easy and we're going to have to brace ourselves for the Referendum Bill being thrown out of Parliament in 2010, but it will be back with a vengeance in 2011, mark my words. In terms of the actual cause, I think while citing examples such as Iceland and Ireland is healthy to show that there's nothing wrong with being a small nation, events have shown that the continual referene to other countries does create something of a hostage to fortune. And in any case, I think Unionists missed a trick: what they should have asked is, "What's the point in Scottish independence from Britain if it'll lead to an Irish tax policy, an Icelandic economic model and a Norwegian oil fund?" The whole point of being independent is that we can find our own way. Yes, we can use ideas from elsewhere as a starting point, but we should push Scottish approaches to Scottish situations. If we can do that, we've cracked it.

What have been the best and worst things about the SNP being in government?

The best thing has been seeing SNP Members standing up and being in a position to make a difference, like reversing the closure of A&E Units at Ayr and Monklands Hospitals, or looking at new ways to tackle long-standing problems, like the booze crisis - even if I haven't been convinced by all the proposals, the fact that we're being bold enough to try and tackle the issues where they've been sidestepped in the past is a badge of honour for the party.

The worst thing I think is that we are a Minority Government: we know the Council Tax isn't working, we're sure Local Income Tax would be a better way forward but we've had to bite the bullet and accept that whether we like it or not, it's not happening during this Parliament. Similarly, we feared that the Edinburgh Trams would be a bad idea, but the other parties felt strongly enough to force the issue in Parliament. The fiasco that is the construction (and when the pain is over, the finished article will only be useful if you're travelling within a small portion of the city) is starting to prove us right, but thanks to the parliamentary arithmetic, there's not much we can do about that.

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

St. Petersburg... I was lined up to go on exchange to Russia while I was at University, but it fell through at the last minute. I've always been fascinated by Russian history and culture and I hope to make it there at some point.

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

A couple of years ago, I was invited on a conference to Le Creusot, a small village in Burgundy. The people were great and the area had an interesting history that I'd like to explore in greater detail.

Who, excluding the present SNP leader and First Minister, do you regard as the best First Minister, and who do you regard as the best SNP leader?

In terms of the best FM barring Alex Salmond, I'd have to plump for Jack McConnell, mainly as he had more time to make an impact than the late Donald Dewar or Henry McLeish. And he had some successes: forging links with Malawi, building up support for Glasgow 2014 (we managed to put the ball in that particular net but the build-up was his), and after a great deal of cajolling, getting on board with us for the Smoking Ban.

As for best SNP Leader, this is a toughie as all I remember are Alex Salmond and John Swinney. However, for helping to make us such a credible electoral force, I'd have to go with Billy Wolfe, whose National Convenership saw the emergence of the "First Eleven" MPs.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

This may raise a few eyebrows in SNP circles, but I'd rank Jim Sillars up there. Although I don't agree with a lot of his current thinking, it was his book, /Scotland: The Case For Optimism /that convinced me to support independence and the SNP. I'd thought about it beforehand, but it was that book, especially the first part where he charts his life and his beliefs in politics until he joined the SNP that really resonated with me. If it weren't for him, I may not be in the party now...

Favourite Bond movie?

I've only actually ever sat through the Brosnan ones, so I'll say /The World is Not Enough/. And that's for the song rather than the film.

Favourite Doctor Who?


Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Chocolate every time!

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

The Glenn Miller Orchestra - the original one!

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

Well, I have to say, Oxford left me cold when last I visited and I don't hold out much hope for Cambridge living up to its billing... Barsby, on the other hand, sounds like Leicestershire's Best-Kept Secret!

Favourite national newspaper?

Favourite UK title? The Guardian.

What would you say your hobbies were?

I'm a big reader, I'm a total sci-fi geek, and a huge football fan.

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

All-time favourite songs: "Why? (The King of Love Is Dead)" by Nina Simone, "Looking High, High, High" by Bryan Johnson and "Méditerranéenne" by Hervé Vilard, which is about a man besotted by a Gypsy girl and her people's culture, but is also painfully aware that one false move will result in her brothers using his spleen as a dishcloth. Well, I'm paraphrasing somewhat, but that's about the size of it!

For books, I'd have to say "The Lost Continent" by Bill Bryson, "The Eyre Affair" by Jasper Fforde - I recommend the Thursday Next series for anyone looking for non-Harry Potter fantasy - and "1066 And All That" by Sellar and Yeatman.


Malc said...

Nice profile Will :)

agentmancuso said...

Not only but also, J. Arthur is a distant figure of reveration and Black Belt moderator on the only Scottish Political Forum in town.

Mirela said...

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