What made you decide to start blogging?
My grown-up children dragged me kicking and screaming into using a computer in the '80s (remember WordStar?), and I was sending e-mails on CompuServe from
What is your best blogging experience?
Discovering that some university lecturers in international relations or diplomacy were, and I hope still are, using my blog as a teaching aid.
And your worst?
Nothing serious so far, touch wood.
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
Probably my first post calling for a full federal system for the
What inspired you to go into politics?
I have never been in politics, and never wanted to be in them (it?).
As an opponent of PR. Do you have any fears that we may be introduced to it via the back-door?
I'm certainly worried by the possibility that if there's a hung parliament after some future election, either of the main parties might succumb to the temptation of a bargain with the LibDems involving PR in exchange for LibDem support – which would take us into permanent post-election horse-trading and actual or virtual coalitions, which would be fatal for stability and the chances of a coherent, long-term programme of reform. But I don't see this happening any time soon.
Having been in the Diplomatic Service, which country saw your favourite posting?
Ethiopia (during the '80s famine) for job satisfaction, having the chance to play a part in the huge international famine relief effort; the Soviet Union for political interest; the US (New York) and Australia for creature comforts and culture... virtually every posting had something going for it.
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?
Who, excluding the present leader and Prime Minister, do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?
If you mean the best prime minister we actually had, Attlee (quite closely followed by Lloyd George and Harold Wilson). If you mean the best prime minister we never had, Nye Bevan and Neil Kinnock first equal (both from Tredegar!), followed at some distance by Iain Macleod and Denis Healey. I don't include Churchill who was a great wartime leader but a flop as peace-time prime minister.
Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration
Favourite Bond movie?
Favorite Doctor Who?
Never watched it.
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
The Berlin Philharmonic (Berliner Philharmoniker)
In terms of visiting for the weekend,
Favourite national newspaper?
The Guardian, alas.
What would you say your hobbies were?
Blogging and e-mailing, slow urban cycling, listening to classical music, writing to the newspapers, arguing.
And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books
(Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
Songs: Any of the Four Last Songs of Richard Strauss; Willow Weep for Me (Billie Holiday); any of the five Rückert-Lieder of Mahler. Runners-up in case any of those are disallowed: any of Elgar's Sea Pictures, sung by Janet Baker; Every time we say goodbye, sung by Ella Fitzgerald.
Books: Any of the volumes of Dance to the Music of Time (Anthony Powell); Anatomy of Melancholy (Robert Burton); Prose of Sir Thomas Browne. If any of those are disallowed: British Political Facts; The Oxford Dictionary of Political Quotations; Collected Poems of W H Auden, Yeats, Milton, Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes.