This interview took place in 2009 and an edited version was published in Total Politics magazine.
ID: What is it with you and Harriet Harman?
AD: On a personal level I really like her. We joke, we spar and we tease but I think it shows something two very important things about Parliament. One is that just non-stop ding dong yahoo biffing and bashing across the Dispatch Box is just not very good box office and people think ‘just get real, get a life’. But the other thing is that in the House of Commons, particularly at the moment, there has to be the ability to work on two levels.
One is the level of political combat; but the other is of people having to discuss lots of detailed things behind the scenes. For instance we sit on the House of Commons Commission together and that’s been in the thick of it recently. You’ve got to have a proper working relationship.
There’s another lesson. I’ve got far more out of her by introducing a bit of wit and not being ferocious than if I’d gone hammer and tongs. So although it is humorous it is also serious, and I think it’s much more effective politics than just throwing grenades across the chamber.
You’re naturally quite a combative politician and I suspect if it had been somebody else in that job you might have adopted a different approach.
Well I’m capable of being combative because I don’t like just backing off, and I think in politics you should fight your corner. In that sense - and perhaps in many senses -I’m a misunderstood person in politics.
I believe in the theatre of the House of Commons, I love the House of Commons, I love Parliament, but it’s not working at all well at the moment but I think that courteous and powerful exchanges are better than scrapping in the playground.
You said you were misunderstood, why did you say that?
Well we can come to that later [Laughs]. I am always being caricatured as a short little terrier but those that know me know that life isn’t as simple as that.
But do you think sometimes people deliberately misunderstand you?
And do the caricatures hurt sometimes?
Yes, they do actually. I am quite easily hurt but I’m quite good at not showing it. The trouble is that as soon as you start discussing it people start saying ‘pathetic little self-pitting wimp’, which is not me either. I think discussing one’s inner feeling’s in politics is almost impossible because we live in a pretty malicious political climate at the moment and there’s insufficient generosity of spirit to ever expect people to be understood. I’m sure Blair had feelings and felt that he was being ripped to bits all the time. That can’t have been nice. I think it’s better to be tough on people for their politics and their decisions and not their personality
Why do you think it is often the case in politics that it is people on your own side that are the most vicious. In your case, you get far more thrown at you from your own side than you do from the opposition.
Maybe. I haven’t seen it recently but maybe it’s there. I suppose last January there was a lot flying around in the run up to the reshuffle, but why? If people want to have a go at me they can. I can’t quite work out what their motivation might be but that’s up to them.
Do you think it’s got to do with money, that people think you’re filthy rich and that people in this country still have a chip on their shoulder about that sort of thing, whereas if you were an American politician there would be absolutely no problem?
I remember about 20 years ago Peter Luff, who used to work for Peter Walker, said that the one thing Peter Walker regretted was that he got labelled rich before he ever really made any money. I really find it irksome to be labelled a multimillionaire. I am not a multi- multi millionaire...
Just a multi...
...I suppose I am if I’m dead, but I can’t just sign a cheque for a million quid or something. It’s one of those modern labels where fifty years ago ‘millionaire’ was like billionaire today, and still newspapers just stick it in as a label. And yes, it creates resentment. I actually spent a lot of my own money, about three or four thousand quid ten years ago, to prevent a magazine from putting me on a rich list because it was totally untrue. I had to spend money simply to establish the truth. There was no other means of doing it. I can’t escape the label and compared to lots of politicians I’m nowhere near what they’re worth. I certainly would have been if I’d stayed in the oil business, so you can imagine it gets up my nose that not only have I given up being super rich but I’m accused of being super rich when I’m not. It’s one of those crosses one just has to bear in this game.
If you had your time all over again would you have still made the decision to go into politics?
If I was starting now, it really saddens me that I would probably recommend to a young professional that they should not do it.
The lack of reason, the vilification - it’s almost impossible now in politics to retain one’s self-esteem. I’m not just talking about the allowances and expenses issue, I’m talking about in general and from my own point of view. To quote someone I have met once or twice, “I’m not a quitter and I am seeing this through”.
Looking back I would have started later, but the trouble is you never know what the political cycle is going to bring. Ninteen Ninety Two to 1997 was a miserable period and we’ve been in opposition ever since. If I had come into politics ten years later I’d be more secure and in a much better position in many ways, but you can never judge that. Ninety per cent of success in politics is luck and timing.
But funnily enough, the more we are under attack as politicians and because the country is in such a mess, the more determined I am to try and play my part as a politician.
That’s how I feel, I had almost decided not to do it but with all that’s happened over the last few months I thought, sod it.
What motivates me? I had a traditional family background. My father was in the RAF, and inevitably when you are the child of a serving officer you get instilled with a sense of country, a belief in certain institutions and good manners and educational advance. Throughout all my teenage years I just saw Britain going down the economic plughole and this made me want to go into politics, so here we are thirty years on from my last year of university when Thatcher was elected. It was her wish to put Britain back on an even economic keel that inspired me to go into politics. Thirty years later we are going down the economic plug hole again and that is what drives me to play my part in politics, because in the end if you have a strong view about the poor, about people who can’t pay their bills, if you have a view about elderly people who can’t afford their care, the fundamental building block under everything is a sound economy and Gordon Brown’s blown it. The man has completely busted the country, he has spent ten years spending other people’s money as if there was no tomorrow and now is hitting us all in the gob and I am actually a very angry politician because of that, I think he’s blown it and it’s going to hurt people for generations.
How well do you know Gordon Brown?
He is so tribal and so antagonistic he rarely engages any Conservative person in conversation. I used to bump into him in the street when he lived in his flat in Westminster every now and again. He only ever stopped in the street for a chat once and it was a begrudging few words as I was off to the laundry with all my shirts in a black bin liner. He said, “oh, what’s that? Your manifesto?”
You got a joke from Gordon Brown?
I thought, bugger me, he’s got a sense of humour tucked away there somewhere but it was said with a scowl. But that was it. I find him worryingly odd.
But for such a tribal politician do you think he is physically and emotionally capable of building consensus?
I think he has no leadership qualities whatsoever in the sense of those qualities that unite a country. He is the most decisive, antagonistic political figure I have ever encountered in my life. His only political motivation is to get one over the other side. He is incapable of any kind of general consensual action, and he is pathologically divisive. I think the same goes for Ed Balls; he’s the little mini-me who has inherited all the qualities of the man whose boots he has licked for the last ten years or more.
By the time this comes out he may have gone in one way or another I suppose.
I always say I have never had a political patron really and one of the reasons I am quite easy to be shot at is that I am what I am and it’s just me. William Hague and I are very good friends and we have mixed and matched for nearly thirty years but I would never ask anything of him. Hague-Duncan is not the same as Cameron-Osborne but as I said to someone over a decade ago who was very closely associated with a senior politician, I said: ‘Beware. Those who hitch themselves to someone’s coattails normally go the way of the coat’.
Do you think Brown will lead Labour into the election?
I think if he survives to the summer, yes he will lead them into the election but I think the Labour Party is in a long, slow miserable decline. Everything they say they stood for, they haven’t done: equipped people for old age? Helped the poor? No, they have abused their position to raise money and hide and disguise things over the last ten years. They have wasted a decade of growth and they are now going to cause great pain for some of the most vulnerable people in the country. Despise is a strong word but I do have a lot of contempt for the deceit of their politics. They have governed by headline and propaganda for ten years. I don’t see any proper action and decency and I think that is at the root of people’s disillusion with the forces of politics at the moment. They just feel completely deceived at every turn. Look at equitable life – no compensation; look at what it took to get the Ghurkhas properly rewarded; what has happened to everybody’s pensions pot? We used to have what was the biggest pension pot in all the European Union put together, and then Gordon Brown went and dynamited the whole structure. This is the man who has doubled your council tax and destroyed your pension and he thinks he’s fit to govern.
Is there anything you think they have done well over the last ten years?
Well obviously I think some of their social legislation has been alright - civil partnerships, for example.
That would have never been introduced under a Tory government now would it?
No, probably not, so I think that is a definite achievement that Blair can lay claim to, but I think that it’s belittled by so many of the other things that they have got wrong. I think that it boils down to money, they have squandered a decade of growth, they could have recalibrated the British economy, they could have equipped us for global competition and the next phase of economic activity. Instead they have just spent everything. After fourteen years of consecutive growth we should of had lower taxes, higher savings, low unemployment, a massive pensions pot and a large government surplus. Instead the opposite is true in all of those cases. We went into a recession with unemployment, headline unemployment starting at 1.7 million, its burst through 2 million I fear it’s going to go up to 3. There’s nothing the kitty, pensions have been squandered, PFI debt hidden, a mountain of debt, bigger than Everest times twenty, I mean we are up a Gum tree big time. And the man who I think is largely responsible for this bubble of illusion is the man who is now prime minister.
I guess the solution to that is to be completely upfront before the election and say ‘look these are the sort of things we are going to have to do but if you do that you risk losing support before the election’.
Of course this is a very difficult dilemma. We have had about twenty years in which no journalist or broadcaster, bar one or two have ever turned round to a Labour politician and said ‘how are you going to afford that?’ But in a trice they will turn round to a Conservative and say ‘oh that’s cuts, isn’t it?’ So given that all economic decisions are a balance between tax and spend, money in and money out, our critics or the country’s economic observers in the media tend only to look at one side of the equation. So, no, it’s not going to be easy.
However you dress it up, it means cuts. Isn’t it better to spell it out in simple language that people understand and explain roughly those areas where those cuts will have to be made?
Labour always play with words. What’s called spending is now called investment, as they think its a cosier word and they brand us with cuts you cannot go on as a country spending beyond your means, or living beyond your means so there is going to have to be a massive effort to pay off debt and then to balance things out over the long term. Whether that means high taxes or less spending or completely dramatic radical change that suddenly gives us the growth to pay things off quickly remains to be seen. George has got some big tasks ahead but he’s a very thoughtful guy and he understands the magnitude of the challenge that is going to be dumped in his lap.
Whereas thirty years ago you had a clear difference between left and right, you had high tax and high spend, basically pro-inflation pro-trade unions pro-socialism in Labour and then you had a distinctive Conservative party under Margaret Thatcher which even in opposition laid down the broad building blocks of its proposals in terms of wanting to tame the trade unions, encourage more enterprise, have lower taxation and have freer markets. We don’t have now what we have then which were massive nationalised industries in the great sectors of the economy such as coal and steel. So the differences between the two parties now does not appear as stark and if ideologies have converged peoples decisions become less clear and I think that’s another ingredient in the problems we have had over the last few months.
Do you still stand by the libertarian philosophy that you outlined in your book, Saturn’s Children?
By and large that’s my philosophy, I probably get a couple of letters a week from people who say they have read the book and they like it. You can’t take things away from people who are expecting the state to give them so I’m not suggesting and never have a sudden big chop of government. You can’t leave people beached and bereft, but in looking at what makes a free rich and moral nation I think the principles in that book had a lot to commend them. I think if people had looked at Britain today from the perspective of forty years ago they would say in many respects we are a socialist country because basically half of everything you earn goes to the state, more or less, and that’s a massive percentage. We actually have a very centralised state in terms of public services, a very centralised media unlike America which has a much more diverse federal structure. No one newspaper is as powerful as the newspapers here and I think Britain has lost a lot of its individuality and freedom. The surveillance state is beginning to take over, I think the civil liberties agenda is growing in importance.
In a way you ought to feel vindicated by what you wrote then, because I think the Conservative party now has adopted far more of that agenda than it ever would have done ten years ago when the authoritarian side of the party still had a grip.
Yes, there are some areas where you need authority rather than authoritarianism and in that sense I think in our criminal system people don’t fear any of the sanctions that might be brought against them, particularly for younger people and near violent crime. So in that sense we need proper authority, but that’s not the same as authoritarianism and I do worry that young people are getting sucked into going to court whereas it would be much better if they just feared authority to some extent, and were told not to do it again and were sensible enough not to.
Right now, I have to ask you the obligatory question about legalising drugs. CHECK
Thank you for asking me the question
Why should the tax payer fund your garden?
I think the outburst of fury is understandable and must be understood. We’ve reached the absurd and vulgar state of affairs in which a lot of people can’t pay their basic bills and MPs look as though they are being paid in luxury items. Public opinion says: ‘I don’t care what the rules were. You should have applied a better moral code yourself’. I did. I refused to use expenses for TVs and cookers and things, and I declined ever to use the allowance to buy food. I didn’t have to, but I insisted on giving receipts. That is why the Telegraph was able to say that what was pretty basic maintenance - which is what the allowance was designed for love it or hate it - was for pruning the roses which it wasn’t . If you take Nick Clegg, wasn’t it £800 on a rose garden, another £900 on his garden, £800 on curtains, and £1400 on food? Where was the coverage for that?
I don’t think a taxpayer’s money should be used to pay an MP in things; you should just let an outside body decide what they should be paid and get rid of a lot of these allowances. MPs should not be deciding on their own pay and allowances. That is the fundamental thing and we are paying the price for prime ministers over the last 20 years not being able to stand up and accept the recommended pay rise and through a skunky little deal with the whips hiding it under the carpet in this disguised allowance system. The world has changed; it’s called expenses but it was an allowance – tough. MPs should have seen this coming. I tried to set up my office in a model way, I tried to set a high standard for myself and I think if you look at everything else those of us in the Shadow Cabinet have done, I think have set a very good example by early on in this trouble by recognising the public outrage and getting out a cheque book and saying I don’t care what the rules were, even if we were within the rules as all of us were, we are going to sign a cheque where it hurts to show we understand.
But some would say that’s all very well for you because you can do that. There are other MPs who are in a very different financial position who are finding it incredibly difficult.
I know, it’s a nightmare
Do you feel that your own reputation has been besmirched by all of this?
Yes, and you have this standoff between politicians who are annoyed and upset that their reputation has been damaged when they don’t think it should have been, and the public who say how dare you think you deserve any sort of reputation at all and this is a very corrosive period in British politics.
What would you say looking back on your career in politics so far, what do you think you have achieved?
My generation, the 1992 intake, has helped keep the party afloat through a very punishing decade.
In terms of specific achievement, getting stuck into William Hague’s leadership campaign and making that work was a very dramatic moment. We were working in the complete wreckage of the party after 18 years in government. There was no press apparatus to speak of in central office and I pretty much drove myself to the edge of a nervous breakdown for the six months after William became leader just trying to do the work of ten people in the press office. No one appreciates what was happening behind the scenes there. When I helped William get elected I didn’t ask for a job on the Shadow Cabinet or anything like that, I just got on with the real nuts and bolts stuff in Central Office and tried to build up a press capability. But it was too much. The phone would start at six and finish at one in the morning. I just couldn’t do it.
There are those who think he didn’t treat you particularly well.
Well he had a lot on his plate. I didn’t keep a diary or anything but I think I can look back on that and say if I hadn’t flogged myself to bits for that year after the election I think a lot of the apparatus would of completely fallen to bits. There were some other players in there too, there was Charles Hendry - George Osborne was in William’s office later. But in that period William kept the show on the road. He had some pretty horrid, torrid moments, but look where he is now. He’s deeply respected, powerful, assured. The phrase I use is ‘combat trained’, as you have got to go through the mincer sometimes to come out as a strong politician and few people in Parliament are combat trained in that way.
Do you think in retrospect it was therefore a mistake for him to do it at that point?
The argument I used with him at the time was maybe that the postman only knocks once, and when everyone says ‘oh he got it too early’ his reputation now is very strong because he has gone through what he went through. For instance, would he be the leader now if he hadn’t done it then? Who knows? Politics is about grabbing opportunities and like I said earlier, 90% of success in politics is luck and timing or bad luck and bad timing. [laughs].
Indeed. Going forward to the 2005 leadership campaign you famously ended up supporting David Cameron in quite a public way; do you regret how you handled that?
No, not at all
Because you were seen by many people as rather duplicitous over it
Quite the opposite
I was under enormous pressure from David Davis and people like Andrew Mitchell but then journalists started coming to me to say: ‘Oh I gather you have pledged’. I said: ‘No that’s not the case’ so I was not at all duplicitous. Some people think I am, but when you talk about being misunderstood I’m a straight down the line. At my birthday party, William [Hague] told this joke: [adopts a Hague-esqie accent] ‘The thing about Alan is that you get what you see. He doesn’t plot, he just comes and tells you to your face that if he thinks you’re bloody useless and he will tell you if you’re bloody useless. He’s gone and done that to two leaders. He did it to me’. I tell it straight. In 2005 I was absolutely straight down the line and I think the absolute moment of clarity came Radio Four at the Party Conference when they said ‘Mr Duncan you’ve declared your support for David Cameron, why is that?’ and I said: ‘Well I didn’t before and then I realised the only thing that was stopping me doing so was jealously as being from an older generation.
Because you had said some very rude things about him a few months before
I’m quoted as such, but to be honest I can’t ever recall saying it.
That’s a very convenient memory loss
A very convenient memory loss! Again, I have been teased about that!
It was just as I said though. We guys who are a bit older and who naturally thought it was our turn had to overcome that and say right, these guys are up to it and for the good of the party off we go, and I think that that was the right decision.
But when you recognised the reality was there a little bit of a light that switches off because you know if somebody is younger than you they are going to be around for a long time and therefore there’s a slight edge that goes off it all.
You’re suggesting one has to recalibrate ambition, of course, but that’s a good thing so along as you come to terms with it. And I am.
So what is your ambition now?
I want to be part of a successful, restoring and reforming Conservative government under David Cameron which can put this country back on track.
Well... [smiles enigmatically]
It seems to me in all seriousness you are enjoying your current job in a way I don’t think you enjoyed your previous job.
Well I did enjoy my previous job but there were a lot of frustrations about getting heard. But yes I am enjoying my current job as I like the theatre of the House of Commons; I think there’s a very important agenda ahead that needs to be approached with real sanity and I think a lot of the trouble with politics is about the collapse of the House of Commons as a functioning institution. I think that the Blair/Brown destruction of the House of Commons with the timetabling and different timings, the itsy bitsy holidays have just stopped it. It’s ceased working as an institution capable of playing its proper part in the government of the country.
How would you reform it, but don’t you fear the forces of conservatism who will try to stop reform?
I would like to see select committees elected. It’s not forces of conservatism that are the problem, as much as the forces of inadequacy which have been elected and the way individuals behave in the House of Commons. Nothing makes me wince more than someone standing up and saying ‘does the prime minister agree with me that he is the most wonderful prime minister since Winston Churchill’. You get some lick spittle, ghastly sort of slurp slurp question and what purpose does that serve for anybody?
I just think the collapse of competence amongst so many of the characters that are now elected is desperate. I am all for having lots of different fields of life represented. That’s what a healthy House of Commons should contain, but not people who have no understanding of the bigger impact of economics or the world and global affairs. I would love to do a survey of Labour backbenchers and find out how many of them have not ever moved an amendment to a piece of legislation. It’s probably about 80%.
Why do you think the new intake of Conservative MPs would be any different?
I hope they will be [laughs]
We should encourage them to be so. If we encourage them to be automatons it will come back and harm us. We all need a bit of grit in the oyster, we need people who are characterful and occasionally awkward because without them people at the top become detached and deluded actually.
How conscious are you of being a bit of a role model for gay people in politics?
It cuts both ways. I probably get about three or four letters a week quietly saying thank you. I have never been anyone who parades this and I regard it as something that ought to be a matter of fact issue. But I do regularly get letters saying ‘you have really made a difference to my life’ and that’s very heartening even though I don’t like to go and jump up and down about it. In a way I would just rather be shot of the ‘gay’ label. I’ve done my bit. I hope it’s helped, but the trouble is over the past few weeks exactly the opposite has happened. I’ve had letters that I know come for BNP-type people and some older people which are vicious. I know exactly what they are saying. You can read between the lines.
There’s a lot of hatred and nastiness tucked away beneath the surface and I think that actually political leadership had been very important on this and on racism and on other kinds of religious discriminations be it anti-Islamic or anti-Semitism. It’s very important for political leadership to have consensual dominance of this issue so that it doesn’t go wrong, but when there is an eruption such as we’ve seen recently, it becomes a pretext for some really nasty stuff. I can never understand why, but people quite often want to have a go at me. It’s probably one of the subliminal reasons why, but I have never complained. It’s better not too.
I have always thought that this is the reason why that in some ways you have been held back in the Conservative party and I think your reputation has been affected by this issue.
People accuse me of certain things which are not true because what they are really doing is getting at me because of that. Do I care? No, should I care? I don’t know. I once joked with a friend that in politics you should never fall prey to jealously or self pity. Sheer hatred on the other hand... [laughs]
But I mean ten years ago could you ever of foreseen that the Conservative party, I mean if the civil partnerships issue came up again it would have, I wouldn’t say unanimous support but people who voted against it last time, I think would vote for it this time and the fact that the party is now openly encouraging gay people to get involved in politics and there are two people who have had civil partnerships in the shadow cabinet, what better signal could that send, you couldn’t of foreseen that ten years ago.
I couldn’t of foreseen it and I could never of foreseen my role in it as the way that it turned out. I have no regrets about what I have done and I hope in a way its’ helped others as that’s what politics is all about. I only have one serious regret though, which is that it is seen as my main label, whereas it should be my secondary label. For thirty years through Oxford and business I have learnt about global economics, global politics, I have strong views about the economy and the way the state ought to be structured and I have built up a reputation of being media friendly let’s say and I have played my part in helping the Conservative party survive with William’s election and all that kind of stuff. I was very slow to get into the shadow cabinet but that never bothered me at all, but what does irk me I am sometimes not taken seriously on these bigger issues because of my prominence on other issues and I have been there, done that and got the t-shirt. The big picture of what this country ought to be about drives me more than anything else.
You had ten years as an MP before you formally came out, why did you wait?
I would have fired a blank if I had done it earlier because the age was different. There was a bit of ‘why should I, its private’ but then my view on all that changed because if you are in public life you get forced into these things. People say ‘you have to’ and then say ‘why did you – why didn’t you keep quiet?’. The truth is in public life that honesty is the best policy. I didn’t want to do it too early because I would just be a junior MP who said he was gay and that would be it forever, end of story. It was much better to do it when I was more senior and therefore able to say there’s more to me than just this but it is an important issue and it is part of the apparatus of the Conservative Party that is endorsing and embracing this as something they understand and support - not just some irrelevant little backbencher. So I think I got the timing absolutely right.
And you got civil partnered last July; do you regard yourself as married?
I don’t use the word because exactly as I said in the civil partnership bill, we must respect the distinctive faith and belief of churchgoers and other religious believers who feel that the word ‘marriage’ is owned by them really, and that’s fine by me. So although people use it as shorthand, I don’t It would be useful if we could find another word for it. But as I said in the debate these are two parallel lines - very similar but distinctive. Parallel lines do not meet, yet nor do they collide, and we must respect the church in my view.In my view there’s room for both and no need for friction between the two.
Is being media friendly a double edge sword? Would you say your recent experience on Have I Got News For You rebounded on you?
I try to be media friendly rather than a media tart, I’m not just rent – a – quote, I try to lift a discussion to more thoughtful territory
Like shooting beauty queens
We will come on to that in a second. One of the deepest frustrations of modern politics is where interviewers think ‘how can I trip up a politician today’ rather than get them to say what they think. I have been on Have I got News for you four times. Two were great, one was an absolute classic triumph with Brian Blessed and the fourth was a complete almighty disaster because when it was recorded no-one could have foreseen the fury that was about to burst. They recorded longer than ever before, over two hours, and I was knackered by the end of it and it was in the last five minutes that I goofed. I had faith in the editing and they edited it in instead of editing it out. Then of course all the blogs completely distort what happened and you get attacked for what was never said. I think it’s a pretty sadd world that doesn’t any longer know how to distinguish between a comedy programme and really political comment.
But as a politician you aren’t allowed to have a sense of humour are you?
We must be allowed to have a sense of humour, although I think there would have been a better occasion than that programme [laughs]. I admit it, it was a disaster but it’s all in the editing.
You had a double whammy with making light of all the expenses stuff and murdering this beauty queen
There’s no point in going through this. [laughs]. I did not say she should be murdered and funnily enough blog and media outrage can sometimes head up to the stratosphere and it doesn’t actually bear that much relation to what most people in their daily life think.
I watched that and I thought you were pissed!
At the end I had a headache coming on.
No, at the beginning
At the beginning, I hadn’t had a drop; I’d been sat around the studio for two hours drinking water.
So you would do it again?
I doubt it. [laughs].
Jack Bower or James Bond?
What are you reading at the moment?
A book on the Middle East by Alastair Crooke
Abba or Kylie?
What makes you laugh?
Being interviewed by you [laughs]
Who’s your favourite superhero?
What’s on your iPod?
So much, but I am hopeless of remembering names, James Blunt and all that lot.
Your credibility is shot. Favourite meal?
Sarah Palin or Bree Van de Kamp?
Who’s Bree Van de Kamp
You know the one from Desperate Housewives
Oh God, anyone but Sarah Palin
Favourite Labour politician?
Most hated Labour politician?
Sorry Gordon, but you’re it
Most formidable opponent?
In terms of me being up against them it was Alan Millburn when I was Shadow Health spokesman
Thing you most like about Harriet Harman?
Her cheerful dippyness
Most romantic thing you have ever done?
It’s a secret
Last concert you went too?
My brother, playing in a charity band
From the top of a Scottish mountain
It’s got to be Rory Bremner