Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part CXLV: Hadleigh Roberts

(Hadleigh Roberts)

Hadleigh Roberts is a student of Modern Languages and European Studies (French & Spanish) at the University of Bath, UK.
For two years (2007-2009) he was President of the University of Bath Labour Club, and still holds a position on the Executive Committee of the Bath Constituency Labour Party.
From June 2009 to September 2010, he worked for the Parti Socialiste de la Fédération des Alpes Maritimes in Nice, France, which includes the Conseil Regional PACA (Provence-Alpes-Cote D’Azur), and the Groupe Changer D’ère in Conseil Municipal of Nice. He has also studied in Alcalá de Henares (Madrid, Spain).
He is a member of the Fabian Society, occasionally writing for LabourList, Student Impact and the Bath Chronicle, as well as giving speeches to Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence University, the Wessex Christian Socialist Movement and Europe International. His blog can be found here.

What made you decide to start blogging? 

It was a slow process. I wanted to improve my writing and thought practice was the best way. My blog, if you go back to the earliest entries, was originally a series of mini-essays on topics, and then it became a good place to archive all my writing that was appearing in different newspapers.
When I was Deputy Editor of the student newspaper I had a “difference of opinion” with the Editor and decided to start creating original content for my site.

What is your best blogging experience? 

Sadly not even on my own site! During the election campaign I created a spoof blog of Tory then-candidate Jacob Rees-Mogg, which made the back pages of the national papers and, more importantly, people I knew, from my friends to even the head of my faculty, congratulated me on some excellent writing.

And your worst?

My worst experience is related ironically to my most “successful” post. I’d spent a few weeks constructing six articles that formed the “Countering the Coalition” series, which was the product of my experience abroad working in coalitions, and applying this knowledge to the British situation.
Just before publication, I posted a little ditty about Clegg’s “illegal Iraq war” gaffe as I’d noticed Osborne mouthing the same words, suggesting it was a Clegg-trap. I’m pleased the post went a bit viral, with Liberal Conspiracy and Next Left sending links my way, but a bit annoyed that something silly can be so popular and something that took me a lot of time and work went without comment.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?
We're going to get hammered on June 4th – and videos like these don't help  was my first piece cross-posted onto LabourList. One the one hand I think it’s my best because of the overwhelmingly positive reaction it provoked in the comments section, and on the other because of the calls I made that, I believe, turned out to be true months later.

Favourite blogs?

My absolute favourite is Max Atkinson’s blog about speechwriting and communication. As a linguist by trade, I find his posts incredibly interesting.
Other than that, my friends Mark Bennett and Bryony King also have worthwhile blogs, but because we’re real people rather than politicos, it’s hard to find the time to research and update regularly.

What is there in French politics that we can learn from?

It’s difficult to say if we can take anything directly, because political systems produce their own political culture. They have much more active local politics, but that is because local government actually has some power, and the Mayor is elected directly in every city and town.

Who did you back in the recent Labour leadership ballot and why?

I voted for David Miliband. I just thought he was better placed and politically wiser. 

Where is Labour lacking in the blogging community, and if we are lacking in some areas, what can we do to redeem it?

GroupThink. All the Labour blogs seem to say the same thing which just makes them boring. As a wider movement there should be any number of different perspectives and variety, which aren’t at all mutually exclusive. It seems to just be an echo-chamber for the party lines. Look at LabourList and tell me I’m wrong.

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

I’ve yet to visit Germany, though I think that having lived in France for a year already, I’d better go and see Paris properly first!

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

I’d go back to Nice at any opportunity to see all my friends and colleagues.

Who do you regard as the best British Prime Minister, and if different, the best Labour leader?

As Prime Minister I choose Tony Blair for the way that he tried to put socialist values in the
context of the 21st century, and understood the processes of globalisation. As Labour Leader, I think Neil Kinnock was so important in getting the party through the 1980s and did the shovel-work on modernisation.

Which political figure has been your greatest inspiration? 

Charles de Gaulle. No question about it.

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 Bee Gees

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

Marlborough. My grandfather used to live there and I’d like to take a photo of me as an adult outside his old house.

Favourite national newspaper?

Libération. Like the French version of the Guardian, except they kept the faith.

What would you say your hobbies were?

I’d say politics was a hobby, given my linguistics background. Otherwise I do debating, and a little bit of media. Anything related to language and communication, essentially.

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

Viva la Vida, Coldplay
Staying Alive, Bee Gees
Salut, Joe Dassin

De Gaulle, the Last Great Frenchman - Charles Williams
Letters to my grandchildren: Thoughts on the future - Tony Benn
Devil’s Advocate – John Humphrys