Monday, July 13, 2009

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CXXXII: Fraser Macpherson

(Fraser Macpherson)

Fraser is Liberal Democrat Councillor for the West End Ward on Dundee City Council. A councillor since 2001, he topped the poll in the May 2007 Council Election. Fraser has served as the Council's Education Convener, Convener of Finance then Planning & Transport Convener. Fraser now leads the Liberal Democrat opposition group on the City Council. Fraser's blog is at Away from politics, Fraser works for a professional body, administering its activities in Northern Ireland and Scotland .

What made you decide to start blogging?

The primary reason for starting my blog in 2006 was the (then) impending introduction of single transferable vote & multi-member wards for Scottish local government elections. My old “first past the post” ward was around one quarter of the size of the new ward and I was able to deliver an extremely regular ward newsletter to residents.

It’s a much more significant challenge to get a newsletter to every household in the new, larger ward and, as a result, it is only possible to deliver it a bit less regularly than I’d ideally like. The blog has provided a way of updating local residents with local news almost every day, and judging by the huge feedback from local people, it is clearly well-read by constituents.

What is your best blogging experience?

Absolutely nothing to do with politics! As well as a (small) bit of politics, lots of local news and Dundee City Council updates relevant to my ward, I also put some “personal” stuff on the blog – such as photos of our new puppy, holiday snaps (zzzzzzzzz …) and some of my favourite music.

Last summer, I uploaded a YouTube video of Dusty Springfield’s “All I see is you” – only because I’d heard it the previous day on our local AM radio station. The response to this was phenomenal - I had had loads of e-mails and comments from Dusty’s fans from all parts of the world, including the USA and Australia - including a comment from the administrator of the Dusty Springfield Network, who said, “Nice to see a Councillor with excellent taste in music!”

I was really surprised at the how many folk may read your blog from the other side of the world. I suppose it also indicates the power of Google!

And your worst?

Can’t say I have had any particularly bad experiences.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Not one particular one, but I have done a fair bit of blogging on broadcasting issues – the digital TV switchover and the campaign for Local TV in Scotland – and these have helped give the issues attention in the local and regional media.

Favourite blogs?

It would be remiss to fail to mention Iain Dale, Political Betting, and Guido Fawkes. However, in addition to LibDem Blogs and Liberal Democrat Voice, I’ll give a mention to some of my Scottish LibDem blogging colleagues – Stephen Glenn, “the other” Iain Dale, Caron Lindsay and Bernard Salmon.

What inspired you to go into politics?

It sort of happened by accident! I had been an active Liberal at University but had been an inactive party member for many years after that. Then the Labour councillor for the ward I lived in resigned (on being elected to Westminster in the neighbouring constituency in 2001) and the local party secretary encouraged me to stand in the ensuing council by-election. I remember him saying, “Don’t worry, we came third with 15% of the vote; you’ll not win …” Eight weeks later … I was elected with 51% of the vote and life has altered considerably since then!

You recently blogged about the move towards digital broadcasting in your area. How are the local residents responding to that at the moment?

Arising out of the various digital broadcasting issues I have blogged about, there’s been a lot of feedback from residents. Arising out of this, I’ve held six meetings with Digital UK at sheltered housing lounges in Dundee to help residents, particularly elderly folk locally, with their questions about the digital TV switchover.

Digital UK has been very helpful with assisting constituents with their questions about digital TV and television reception problems around this.

Given the recent tenth anniversary of the Scottish Parliament coming into existence. How do you feel devolution has affected

I think devolution has been wholly good for Scotland; decision making on most domestic issues is so much closer to the people of Scotland. A key finding in recent research on the 10th anniversary of devolution is that many Scots believe it has made the political system work better. In my view, the recommendations of the recent Calman Commission on changes to the present constitutional arrangements would enable the Scottish Parliament to serve the people of Scotland better. I do not believe that the vast majority of people in Scotland want separation from the rest of the UK.

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

We’ve been to many parts of the States, but not to California as yet. Suspect we’ll get there sometime!

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

I love Lanzarote – been there many times, would like to go again, but Janet, my wife, is all Lanzaroted-out!

Who, excluding the present leader, do you regard as the best Liberal Democrat/Liberal/SDP Party leader, and if different, the best Prime Minister?

Sir Menzies Campbell, without a doubt. He’s MP for a neighbouring constituency and is so highly respected, able and hard-working.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Difficult to answer that really as there’s quite a few, but if I take current politicians, it must be Vince Cable.

And – past politicians? Coming from Dundee, where Sir Winston Churchill was one a local MP (1908-22), it has to be Churchill. Oh, and he was still a Liberal when he represented Dundee! I had great-aunts who campaigned for Neddy Scrimgeour, the Prohibitionist, who defeated Churchill in 1922.

Favourite Bond movie?

Anyone that Sean Connery wasn’t in.

Favourite Doctor Who?

Jon Pertwee – reminds me of childhood!

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


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

Dexy’s Midnight Runners

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

Confession time – this Scottish person hadn’t heard of Barsby, so I had a look at it’s website, and it looks well worth a visit! Already been to the other two.

Favourite national newspaper?

The Herald

What would you say your hobbies were?

Politics is my main (and very time consuming!) “hobby”, blogging and helping with community events (eg Christmas Week, Fun Days in the West End of Dundee)

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

Choosing three songs is impossible so these represent just three of my many favourites!

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me – Dusty Springfield

The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles

Come On Eileen – Dexy’s Midnight Runners

Choosing three books is equally impossible so I’ll simply go for 2 recent books:

Queuing for Beginners - Joe Moran

The Song Before It Is Sung - Justin Cartwright

And a brilliant biography - Asquith by Roy Jenkins.

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