Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CLII: Stephen Glenn

Stephen was born in Northern Ireland, went to University in England and spend most of a decade in Scotland, where he stood twice for Westminster, fell in love with Livingston Football Club and started blogging in 2005. He's been an active Liberal Democrat for most of the last 23 years, so much so that he often spends his birthday at or travelling to/from Autumn Federal Conference. Stephen is one of Mars Hill's bloggers and runs his own blog Stephen's Liberal Journal..

What made you decide to start blogging?

I started back in 2005. It was just after the general election, in which I stood for Linlithgow and East Falkirk for the first time, and I knew that I would be standing again for public office. So I started out basically trying to talk about local issues. Within a month though one of the local MPs Robin Cook had died and my readership numbers then went through the roof as being the only blogger on the spot for that particular by election. I then realised that as much as, no more so, my local issues people did want to read about my take on national issues so that carried on.

What is your best blogging experience?

Checking my stats one day at lunchtime and seeing numbers had gone through the roof. The reason was that my take on the Prince of Wales calling his friend Sooty had been added as the an finally article on the Independent's round up of the coverage. When a small blog can get over 3,000 hits by lunchtime it is a good dayhttp://stephensliberaljournal.blogspot.com/2009/01/exclusive-lionel-talks-to-sooty.html 

And your worst?

During the Dunfermline and West Fife by election I came back on a Sunday Morning after doing a delivery to find some of the smokers out in the car park telling me I was quoted in the Scotland on Sunday. It was during the leadership election to replace Charels Kennedy and it was a line, or rather a part of a line, taken from my blog Simon Hughes coming cleam about his sexuality. The conditional clauses from the sentence were all taken out, so instead of a supportive statement as written it appeared to be one of condemnation. Therefore it was mixed feelings to have one of my first quotes lifted by a national title.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

With almost 3000 of them down the years it is difficult to pin point an absolute best, though those that tend to be rather personal seem to be the ones that give most to readers, they also tend to be the hardest to write. Although one that a lot of people tell me still has an impact on them and has been the start of a rather ongoing series down the years on the subject.


Favourite blogs?

I like the blog of my friend Caron http://carons-musings.blogspot.com/ especially as back in the day, I used to get all sorts of how do you do that questions as she was starting out. But she really has come on as a blogging voice not just in Scotland but for the Lib Dems.
Three Scottish friends from different parties got together to merge their blogging into Better Nation last year. http://www.betternation.org/
I think I'd better include another Northern Irish blog and try and avoid nepotism so there is Ed Simpson who whenever he says something tends to not hold back.

What inspired you to go into politics?

Growing up in Northern Ireland the politics there never really inspired me much, it was all so negative against the 'others' whoever they might be. At the time there was no devolved powers and Maggie was in control. There was the excitement of the new SDP working with the Liberal party. They were standing up for social justice and democracy while at the same time tackling the environment and embracing Europe in a way that would benefit the UK. It was therefore a straightforward matter at my first Freshers Fair having been away from home less than a week to sign up for the Liberal Democrats.  

What was the best and the worst thing about running the Yes2AV campaign in Northern Ireland?

The best thing was the way this really was a cross community campaign here in Northern Ireland. Even though the unionist parties didn't officially come on board there were many good contacts within the unionist parties that were doing their bit. The worst thing would have to have been the result, reading the news coming in from all over the country and knowing the voite was lost before I even had the first declaration of my long day. However, it was somewhat tempered by Northern Ireland having the best overall regional result. 

Do you have any personal political ambitions regarding the Liberal Democrats or Northern Ireland politics?

Having stood in the last 2 general elections I'm looking forward to standing once again as a Liberal Democrat. As the Lib Dems don't currently stand in Northern Ireland my involvement in Northern Ireland politics is currently ensuring that there is liberal voice being heard. Before the Yes2AV Campaign I was involved in responding to consultations based firmly on Lib Dem principles. I'm doing that again, plus also involved as the co-ordinator of LGBT Lib Dems NI in getting the equality message across.

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

I'd love to go to New Zealand, and that come from before Peter Jackson made it Middle-Earth. It has a mix of beautiful scenery, history and fully merges it's native population into hits modern society.

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

A hidden gem of Europe is certainly Malta. I've been there twice and could still go back. There is so much history all happening on that one little island and all of it is respected and looked after.

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

I'd have loved to have seen Paddy Ashdown getting a chance in Government. In some of the early televised PMQs he was the one who often stole the show. He was a natural leader who still very much has his finger on the pulse of so many things. He took on the party from the brink of bankruptcy and led us along the path that eventually led to almost one in four people voting for us. 

Which Christian figure has been your greatest inspiration?

Growing up in Bangor, Northern Ireland I had the benefit every August if attending the World Wide Missionary convention so had heard many of the mission leaders of well known organisations speaking. Seeing as I ended up spending a year with Operataion Mobilisation and so many Summer and Easter campaigns with them I would say that George Verwer and his world map jacket had the biggest influence and inspiration on me. George and the OM prayer emphasis on the world at large has also shaped the way I look at the world, the news and prayerfully approach things. It isn't always the headlines that get my attention but the little small paragraphs that get me looking up a less well known country in Operation World.

Favourite Bond movie?

Going out on a limb here but Daniel Craig's Casino Royale really blew the cobwebs off the old franchise. It came with an explosion just when the franchise needed it and presented a Bond more like the one Fleming wrote about in the books (yes I have read them). 

Favourite Doctor Who?

I used to always answer this with Tom Baker, but David Tennant is now up there. May have to rewatch more of my classics collection.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?


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

Would have loved to have seen The Doors and could never tire of seeing Crowded House 

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

Would tend to go for a weekend away where I have friends, although I do in the first two, I have friends I'd like to see eslewhere first. Also as this is August and I'm having withdrawal symptoms from the Fringe it would have to be Edinburgh.

Favourite national newspaper?


What would you say your hobbies were?

Lawn Bowls, geneaology, reading and following sport (yeah most sports)

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

Three favourite songs are always subjective based on current mood as there are too many to like

Summer in the City by Aztec Camera
I Like by Divine Comedy
Gave it All Away by Boyzone

Although ask me on the last night of Lib Dem conference and I'll mention three favourites from the Liberator Songbook.
Three books though are set in stone
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: A trilogy in five parts (yeah didn't like part 6)
The Lord of the Rings
Any Terry Pratchett 

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