What made you decide to start blogging?
When I was 15 I had a vague idea that I wanted to be a journalist so decided to start blogging as a way of improving my writing. I think my writing has improved over that time even though I dropped the ambition to become a journalist.
What is your best blogging experience?
For the first 18 months or so my blog was read almost entirely by a small number of friends and family until August 2006 when I helped organise and speak at a meeting about the British National Party in my town. As part of the usual, charming way Britain’s fascist fringe react to opponents my personal details along with the web address for my site were posted up online (a difficult piece of sleuthing that presumably involved typing my name into Google) meaning it was linked to from a number of high-traffic far right websites.
The result was that my blog has rarely dipped below an average of around 100 readers a day since even when I’ve not posted anything in weeks. In a way, I should be grateful!
And your worst?
The above. Although a higher number of readers allowed me to start blogging ‘properly’ and occasionally get decent feedback on stuff I’d written a significant number of people a significant number of the first wave of readers directed to my blog by sites like Stormfront or Redwatch did so primarily to leave me volumes of abuse that continued for some months.
Some of it was just bizarre. For a couple of months I kept getting free sim cards through the post complete with short insults.
What do you regard as your best blog entry?
I’ve been blogging for several years now so I doubt I could pick out any one post. Generally though my posts have improved over time.
A Very Public Sociologist, Dave’s Part and The Left Luggage.
What inspired you to go into politics?
I wouldn’t say I’ve ‘gone into’ politics. I’ve never stood for elected office and don’t plan to, don’t fancy working for a think-tank or carrying an MP’s bags around.
I can’t think of a time in my life when I wasn’t political though and I’ve been a member of the Socialist Party (the descendants of the Militant Tendency) for around five years now so perhaps I have gone into politics. I’d always thought that generally socialism seemed like a good idea so when I was 15 I typed ‘socialist + party’ into Google and joined the first one which came up. That is honestly how I ‘got into’ politics.
You have blogged on the BNP. Do you think they have reached their electoral peak and what positive moves can the main political parties make to help stop them move any further?
Nope, definitely not. They’ve gone from nothing to having 2 MEP’s, a London Assembly member and dozens of councillors in a decade and there’s no reason why this upward trend in support should stop while that factors that have allowed a minor fascist party to practically enter the political mainstream remain unaltered.
One of these factors is the political vacuum that has opened up in Britain over the last 15 or so years as increasing numbers of people become disillusioned with mainstream political parties. This is why I think there is very little mainstream parties could do to halt or reverse this trend as I largely hold them responsible for the rise of the BNP in the first place. The one positive move the Labour Party in particular could make is dropping the headline-grabbing, ham-fisted attempts to undermine BNP support that generally backfire, such as the rhetoric of ‘British Jobs for British Workers’ or the recent announcement that they will throw money at wards where people keep voting BNP.
You have had some vicious comments made about you from rather well-known groups and individuals. Whilst these comments are from people many would not like to receive a compliment from, is there any campaign group that you admire and vice versa?
I’m more than a little bit proud of the volume of vitriol I’ve attracted over the years but compliments are appreciated as well! I have a lot of respect for people and campaign groups that keep pushing for causes which aren’t particularly popular and don’t garner much media attention like the Hillsborough Justice Campaign. I can’t think why any group falling into this category would ever compliment me but I admire them.
Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?
Zimbabwe, though not for the next few years.
Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?
New York. Best city in the world.
Who, excluding the present leader, do you regard as the best Labour Party leader, and if different, the best Prime Minister?
I don’t have much time for many prominent figures in the Labour Party, currently or historically, and I’ve little in common politically with any. That said, Harold Wilson would be a strong contender. Twice Prime Minister, tactically astute (with the exception of the 1970 General Election), mostly kept internal party feuds simmering rather than boiling and was one of very few people to retire from the job on his own terms.
Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration?
Favourite Bond movie?
The toughest question out of the 20. I’m a massive Bond fan so I could spend a considerable amount of time debating the relative merits of different Bonds. Goldfinger is Sean Connery’s best, George Lazenby should never have been hired, Octopussy is the best starring Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton should have done more than the Living Daylights and License to Kill as both are enjoyable and GoldenEye is the Pierce Brosnan at his finest. For arguments sake I’ll say Golden Eye is the best.
Not a fan of the re-boot of the franchise with Daniel Craig though. More Bourne than Bond.
Favourite Doctor Who?
A close runner up for toughest question on the quiz. I do enjoy the Blue Peter style ‘here’s one I made earlier’ aliens from the earlier Doctor Who series though my personal favourite is Christopher Eccleston who deserved more than one series.
Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?
Which Band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?
The Stone Roses, ideally around 1990. Unfortunately, even though virtually every other major band from the 1960’s onwards with enough surviving members to stage a plausible reunion is doing so I can’t see the Stone Roses ever doing it. The next best thing is seeing former frontman Ian Brown live and shouting at him to play old Stone Roses tracks rather than his solo stuff. Yeah, I’m one of those fans.
In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics..?
Since I’ve just finished three years at Oxford I know where all the decent pubs are in central Oxford so it would have to be there. I’m already getting nostalgic for the Three Goats Head after propping up the bar in there for so long.
Favourite national newspaper?
The Guardian is the best of a bad bunch. They do publish a lot of crap and the Comment is Free section on the website is one of the worst parts of the internet but their coverage in the aftermath of the G20 protests is one of the few times I’ve been genuinely impressed by the mainstream media.
What would you say your hobbies were?
Fell-walking, drinking real ale and eating my own body weight in food from Wetherspoons. I like to think I do enough of the first of these to justify the other two.
And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?
I listen to a lot of music so I never have favourite songs for very long but at the moment my top three are Even Flow by Pearl Jam, White City by The Pogues and 1994 by The Blaggers ITA.
Books: Catch 22 by Joseph Heller, Hadji Murat by Leo Tolstoy and the entire Foundation series by Isaac Asimov. A true genius and one of the greatest authors of the 20th century.