Thursday, April 02, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part LXXXIX: Mark McDonald

(Mark McDonald)
Mark McDonald, 28, was elected as a member of Aberdeen City Council in May 2007, and currently runs the Dyce, Bucksburn & Danestone Diary blog ( prior to that he ran the now defunct Granite City Blog from 2006 to 2009. Mark lives in Dyce, a suburb of Aberdeen, with his wife Louise and son Malcolm. He is the Deputy Leader of the SNP Council Group, and is also their Housing Spokesperson. He is the Convenor of the Council's Appeals Committee, an the Vice-Convenor of the Grampian Joint Fire Board.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I had always been interested in reading blogs, and always had the idea that I ought to consider running one myself. I was eventually spurred on to do this following a discussion with a friend, and so began blogging around the time of the 2006 SNP National Conference.

What is your best blogging experience?

Hard to define, Aberdeen isn't really the place where stories break and as a "peripheral" blogger, I don't attract the same level of attention and readership as the likes of Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes. They are both very good at what they do, and I would be loathe to imitate their style.

I would suppose that my best blogging experience was probably being able to announce the birth of my son on my old blog. I haven't gone into personal blogging on the new blog yet, although it remains an option.

And your worst?

Probably when I took the decision to shut down the Granite City blog. I was losing some of the motivation, and I felt that I didn't have the time to keep the blog updated often enough to justify its continuation.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

A tough one, I think I have made some very good blog entries in the past, and I particularly enjoyed skewering Dr John Reid for some of his outrageous comments about an independent Scotland being a safe haven for terrorists.

On the current blog, I think my recent post on the subject of minimum pricing of alcohol is my most considered effort, but it is early days yet!

Favourite blogs?

I read loads of blogs, but my favourites are probably J. Arthur MacNumpty, SNP Tactical Voting, and The Misssy M Missives, which are all cracking reads in their own right.

What inspired you to go into politics?

I was always politically interested, without ever becoming politically active. I was also always supportive of the SNP and believed in Scottish Independence. I was encouraged by a friend at Aberdeen University, while I was completing my Masters in 2003, to join the party and assist in delivering some leaflets. From there I was hooked.

If a tourist visited Aberdeen and you were one of the first people he or she met, and they wanted advice on the best place to visit, where would you recommend?

There are so many places in Aberdeen which are worthy of visiting, but for me you cannot beat going for a stroll and a picnic at the Duthie Park on a summers day.

What is the best and the worst thing about being a councillor?

The best thing is the ability to make a difference, no matter how small, to people's lives.

The worst is probably the long hours. I can leave the house at 8 in the morning and not be home until 9 at night depending on my schedule. When you have a young baby in the house that can be difficult because it means daddy doesn't get to say goodnight.

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

Loads of places! My wife and I were both keen to go to New York for our 30th birthday (there are only four days between us) but I think it will have to be put on hold.

I would love to visit South America, particularly Peru and the Inca Trail.

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

We went to Krakow for our first anniversary, it was a really wonderful city, full of things to see and do, I would go back in a heartbeat, but life is too short to go to the same holiday destination twice!

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?

Of the three contenders left, there can be no other choice than Donald Dewar, the only First Minister other than Alex Salmond to have the gravitas that such a role demands.

In terms of SNP Leaders, I have only ever been a member when Alex Salmond and John Swinney were leader. I have always had a lot of time for John Swinney. I think he was harshly treated in a number of quarters, and I think he is the man responsible for modernising the party, which in turn helped deliver victory in 2007.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Probably Nelson Mandela, I studied him at school and always thought he exemplified the sort of character traits which any politician should aspire to.

Favourite Bond movie?

I haven't seen the new ones with Daniel Craig, but am reliably informed that they are very good. My favourite from all the others would have to be Goldfinger, it just oozes style and class.

Favourite Doctor Who?

I am actually one of those freaks who didn't mind Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor. He was playing the Doctor at the time I first got interested in the series.

My all time favourite in the role, however, would have to be Jon Pertwee. I even went to see the Doctor Who Stage Show when he was in it.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

It depends on the context, vanilla ice cream, always, but you can't beat a good chocolate bar!

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

I have been lucky in that most of the bands I love I have been able to see in concert at least once. The only exception, and therefore my answer, is Nirvana.

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

I have only ever been to Cambridge, and didn't get to see enough of it, so I would like to go back sometime!

Favourite national newspaper?

Probably The Guardian, even though their Scottish coverage is lamentable...

What would you say your hobbies were?

Football, computer gaming and reading.

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

Three favourite songs:

Lithium by Nirvana

I Know, I Know, I Know by Tegan & Sara

Miles Away Girl by The Wildhearts

Three favourite books:

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Stand by Stephen King

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

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