I am excited to publish my interview with possibly the most famous politician I have interviewed so far, Boris Johnson. Boris Johnson has been the Mayor of London since 2008 and in May he was elected as the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
- What has been your highlight of being Mayor so far?
“It has been an enormous privilege to serve as Mayor of London since 2008 – highlights include cutting council tax; revolutionising our creaking transport infrastructure; making our streets and homes safer; and working with business to create over 100,000 apprenticeships for young people. And of course delivering a truly great legacy after the success of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”
- Why did you decide to stand for MP and do you think you can juggle the two jobs efficiently?
“As well as representing my constituency as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, I can assure you that I plan to continue working to make London the greatest city on earth right through my Mayoralty, which ends in May 2016. We have a massive programme of work in train – from putting in new bridges and tunnels across the Thames, creating more pocket parks, spreading the London Living Wage and regenerating yet more of London. I will be putting every ounce of effort into this programme until 4 May 2016. It is enormous but it is all doable.”
- Are you flattered to have had a puppet of you on the TV show ‘Newzoids’?
“I am very flattered that there is a puppet of me on the TV show Newzoids.”
“I am not sure I am the best person to give hairstyle tips!”
That last answer came after the Mayor’s signature under a ‘PS’ which I found quite amusing. The Mayor also said “thank you again for writing to me and that your interest in politics continues.”
Today I was delighted to receive a reply from Leanne Wood with the answers to the questions I sent her. Leanne Wood is the leader of Plaid Cymru and appeared in two of the leaders debates at the recent general election. I was interested to see what Leanne thought about how her party’s policies could influence the whole of the UK, not just Wales. See the full interview below:
- How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?
“It is vital. At the moment, not enough young people vote when they reach 18 and this allows political parties to marginalise them and their interests. I’m sure with less apathy from young people, Government policy would be more tailored to their needs.”
- What can your party learn from the recent general election?
“Our policies have a broad appeal throughout Wales and beyond. The coverage introduced Plaid Cymru to many people who have not heard of us before. The feedback I received was encouraging and that tells me there is a wide appetite for a different politics. We cannot compete in financial terms with the mainstream establishment parties so we rely heavily on our activist base and the need to speak to as many people as possible.”
- Do you think you and your party benefited from participating in the live TV debates?
“The debates helped challenge many of the common misconceptions about the Party of Wales. They enabled us to lay solid foundations for next year’s elections to the National Assembly which is the most important set of elections for Plaid Cymru.”
- What are your proudest achievements from your time in politics?
“I was involved in the 1997 campaign to secure a National Assembly for Wales and in the 2011 campaign to secure proper law-making powers once the institution was well established. While there is much work to be done to give Wales and people here a strong voice and enhanced powers, these two crucial votes set us on the right path to determining our own future.”
- Do you think your policies can positively influence the whole of the UK, not just Wales?
“I would hope so. During the Westminster election campaign I received many messages from people outside of Wales who wanted the opportunity to vote for a party like Plaid Cymru. Many of these people had previously been Labour supporters but have since become disillusioned with their rightwards drift over the past few decades.”
- Are you flattered to have had a puppet made of you on the TV show ‘Newzoids’?
“I was more amused –I don’t think anyone from Plaid Cymru has featured on satirical programmes before. It helps to widen awareness in a good-natured and entertaining way.”
This evening I was delighted to complete my first interview for the blog through a phone call with Vince Cable, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats. Unfortunately the phone line was a bit faulty so the transcript may not be what Mr Cable said word-for-word.
How important is it that young people take an interest in politics?
“It is important to young people because if they don’t get involved then older people who have a different agenda will one day not have the same interests as the young. For example, older people have interests in things like pensions and forms of other expenditure that are not of benefit to younger people who themselves have an interest in things like education. They also have an interest in house prices- young people are desperate to get homes. So their interests are different. If young people don’t get involved then they will lose out. That’s the main idea of why young people should get involved. But as far as the country as a whole comes from, they need to become involved in different groups; like different parties and so on- otherwise we don’t have an influenced democracy.”
I also asked Mr Cable what he thinks the Lib Dems can learn from the recent election. The sound quality on this question, however, was not too great so I cannot quote him word-for-word, but he mentioned being surprised at some of their losses, particularly to the Scottish Nationals. Mr Cable felt they didn’t have the right balance against the Conservatives, who worked alongside each other in a coalition where Mr Cable felt they “set out to do the right thing in the right way.” Mr Cable also expressed his hope that the Liberal Democrats could do better in the future.