Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XCIII: Jeff Breslin

(Jeff Breslin)

Based in Edinburgh, Jeff Breslin has been blogging for over 2 years. With a degree in Maths, a Masters in Statistics and a Professional Qualification in Accountancy it was always going to be the numbers side of Politics that held his interest. Believing elections to be the greatest spectator sport in the world, Jeff follows his chosen side of the SNP with an objective look at Scottish, British and International Politics. He is optimistic, friendly and always tries his best to keep things light-hearted. He dislikes talking in the third person.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I was very keen to see a tired, uninspiring Labour party lose the 2007 election and was acutely aware that a vote for the Greens or the Lib Dems or the Tories in certain constituencies would help achieve that goal more than a vote for the SNP itself. So, I decided to offer suggestions on how to vote in Scottish constituencies for people who wished to see a change of Government and, from there, my blog morphed into a general social and political commentary with a strong dose of chat on polls.

What is your best blogging experience?

I still get a thrill when I see links coming in from unexpected sources (BBC, Channel 4, Spectator, Mainstream Media websites and leading bloggers) or when my blog is quoted in the press. To be honest, even when people can be bothered to leave a comment I am touched so scoring 44th in Iain Dale's Top UK blogs was perhaps the best blogging experience to date.

And your worst?

All debates and arguments are a perverse source of mirth for me, even the bad-tempered ones so I can't point to the many occasions when the comments section have been something of a bloodbath. I did have one incident which was a 'shot across the bows' when I said a silly thing about someone and they quite reasonably emailed me to insist that I pull the post (which I did) or face the legal consequences. So I would caution any blogger, if you're going to use a person's name, be very, very careful what you say about them.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

I still get a lot of hits for a post that I wrote called "Osama Saeed and Fortress Europe" which I thought was a very strong post in response to some gutter politics in certain quarters. I am also quite proud of the fake speech I wrote for Iain Gray when he won the Labour leadership and I allow myself the notion that his actual speech wasn't as good. But honestly, I've forgotten 99% of the posts I've written so it's difficult to say which is best.

Favourite blogs?

I'd say J Arthur MacNumpty, Two Doctors and Scots and Independent are the cream of the ever-growing blogging crop. I have no quarrel with Iain Dale being unofficially crowned the blogging king of the UK though.

What inspired you to go into politics?

The funny thing is, I don't consider myself to be "in politics". I felt like an outsider looking in when I started the blog and that feeling hasn't really changed. I've always loved the drama and excitement of election night so I guess that was the 'hook' to get me interested.

What is the most difficult aspect about the SNP being in government, apart from having to rely on Westminster and being in a minority in the Scottish Parliament?

I think fighting against a general resistance to change amongst the Scottish public and a regularly petty, unconstructive opposition from rival parties and newspapers is the SNP's trickiest obstacle to getting things done. Putting independence to one side, the SNP have some excellent devolved policies like Scottish Futures Trust, Local Income Tax, minimum pricing for alcohol and free school meals for children but most people and politicians seem uninterested in giving them a chance.

You recently complained about President Obama's style of travel whilst he is in London. What would you recommend?

Leaders have to lead, simple as that. It is easy to set an example on the obvious, populist areas of life but on the more difficult issues you have to step up. Global warming isn't going to reverse all by itself. Obama should have taken his limo or, if in the mood for a PR jackpot, I honestly think he could have taken the tube.

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

Anywhere! Next big trip is Shanghai/Beijing/Japan/Korea so I'm looking forward to that. South America won't be too long after.

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

I'd go anywhere again but San Francisco is very special indeed.

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?

By a process of elimination I would have to say Jack McConnell but a First Minister who is merely 'ok' does not deserve much credit. Alex Salmond is the only SNP leader I've known since my interest in Scottish Politics began in earnest. I would struggle to imagine anyone doing a better job though.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

It's a sad inditement of the current political crop that I can't think of anyone other than West Wing characters. Jamie Oliver has become something of a political figure via his School Dinners drive and I find his enthusiasm, optimism and can-do attitude very inspiring indeed, even if he has become something of a pottymouth lately!

Favourite Bond movie?

The last one, Quantum of Solace. Daniel Craig could prove to be the perfect James Bond and has made a mockery of all that 'you can't have a blond Bond' nonsense when he was first cast in the role.

Favourite Doctor Who?

I have never watched the show.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


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

I've missed The White Stripes twice due to work commitments so I can guarantee I'll be catching them next time they come to the UK.

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

To my shame, I've been to none of them. Barsby could be Britain's best kept secret. It's certainly fulfilled the "secret" side of the bargain very well indeed...

Favourite national newspaper?

The Sunday Herald.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Cooking, blogging and cinema. I do have an audacious plan to take up Scottish surfing this summer but, well, we'll see...

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

Barack Obama's Dreams of my Fathers, Tony Hawks' Around Ireland with a Fridge and Nick Nairn's Cook School.

Marlena Shaw's California Soul, Tori Amos' Muhammed My Friend and MC Solar's Solaar Pleure.


Holyrood Patter said...

A stand up gent, and a fine addition to your 20 questions series!

Simon Dyda said...

Favourite Doctor Who?

I have never watched the show.

Good God