Jenny lives in
What made you decide to start blogging?
I knew a few bloggers and had thought about joining them for some time, as I was aware of the potential - but I was doing a weekly commute to
What is your best blogging experience?
When I posted about having decided to leave the Irish Labour Party, it was lovely to get so many supportive comments: http://southbelfastdiary.blogspot.com/2009/02/goodbye-labour.html
And your worst?
The ‘Grandad’ episode: http://southbelfastdiary.blogspot.com/2008/03/if-you-think-pc-is-computer-please-log.html I came in for a lot of abuse on that post, both on SBD and elsewhere, and I don’t think it was worth it.
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
The 2007 post ‘‘Normalising’ politics in
I’m working on a revised version at the moment.
Favourite political blogs are:
Cedar Lounge Revolution: http://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/
Over the Bridge: http://overthebridgeni.wordpress.com/
Your Friend in the North: http://yourfriendinthenorth.blogspot.com/
And, of course, my husband’s blog, on which I get a mention now and again! http://nickhereandnow.blogspot.com/
What inspired you to go into politics?
I never really felt that I ‘went into politics’ as such. It seems to me that taking an interest in the political process, and ideally being a member of a political party, is part of being a responsible citizen. Whether we like it or not, the political process is how the world is run. But since I’ve been living in
How do you see the future for the Labour Parties in
I’m very pessimistic about this. The Irish Labour Party has very firmly closed the door on electoral activity, although they still allow membership. The British Labour Party, which has more members, is taking a long and cautious route towards standing for election. Both parties’ headquarters are keen to retain their good relationship with the SDLP. In the case of Irish Labour this is because under Eamon Gilmore they have become more overtly nationalist; and I think British Labour fundamentally don’t get that because the SDLP is a nationalist party as well as a democratic socialist party, many of us are not prepared to join or to vote for it.
Another possibility would be to start a separate Northern Ireland Labour Party, which has been done in the past with short-term success. However, although the old NILP started out as a cross-community party, it became associated with unionism in its later days and therefore became part of the problem rather than the solution. I’m not aware of any significant support for this option.
You recently blogged on the murders that took place in the province last month. Do you think this will affect
No. In the short term these murders bring together the 99.9% of the population who are disgusted by them. They give politicians a new platform, and have increased the number of recruits to the police service. The reason it won’t affect politics long-term is that we’re talking about a very small number of people with no significant community support, and organisations that are obviously heavily infiltrated by the police or security services in any case.
Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?
Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
I’ve been to
Who do you regard as the best Labour leader, and, if possible, the best First Minister?
Labour leaders are always caught between idealism and pragmatism, but in terms of achievement I would say Attlee for British Labour. Kevin Rudd seems to be doing a good job in
Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?
I would love to be able to choose a woman, but women in politics generally seem to polarise into those who get co-opted, Blair’s Babes style, or who remain ineffectual rebels. So my inspiration is Tony Benn, for his radicalism and also because he shows politics doesn’t have to be determined by class background; and of course, recently, Barack Obama.
Favourite Bond movie?
I haven’t watched a Bond movie for at least thirty years!
Favourite Doctor Who?
In childhood it was Jon Pertwee, and now it’s David Tennant. I’m disappointed that his replacement isn’t a woman, though – I think the world is ready for a female Doctor.
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
A mixture of all three, topped with chocolate sauce and chopped almonds.
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band.
In terms of visiting for the weekend,
There are many other places I’d rather recommend! But
Favourite national newspaper?
The Independent in the
What would you say your hobbies were?
My hobby is making a list of all the hobbies I intend to take up when I retire.
And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books
(Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
‘Land’ - Patti Smith
‘Carey’ – Joni Mitchell
‘Middlemarch’ by George Eliot
‘Dreams from My Father’ by Barack Obama
‘South Riding’ by Winifred Holtby