At the 2001 general election I was the Conservative candidate for the “swing” seat of Watford and my politics are centred on the centre-right of the spectrum, with a distinct liberal tinge.
Perhaps my greatest political passion, however, is increasingly to expand the role of sport and the arts in society, especially for young people. I hope to ignite a lifelong commitment in them, stirring their souls, teaching them about teamwork, dramatically expanding their range of expression and encouraging them to take better care of their physical health too.
I also fervently believe the good name of Parliament urgently needs to be restored, as does its crucially important role both in our unwritten constitution and in our national life. Both the Brexit negotiations and the re-emergence of the United Kingdom as a fully independent, self-confident sovereign state post-Brexit offer superb opportunities for re-establishing the reputation of Parliament and its premier role at the pinnacle of our public life.
I have filled many diverse roles during my working life, starting out working alongside a young David Cameron in the Political Section of the Conservative Research Department. I have worked for three Conservative Prime Ministers; as a special adviser in three government departments; as a political and strategy consultant; as a self-employed writer and editor; and, in 2003-2004, I helped to set up and run the first ever national, cross-party campaign for a UK referendum on Europe.
SELF-REGULATION OF THE PRESS
My last full-time job was running the Press Complaints Commission (PCC), in the last couple of years of its existence (2012-14). I arrived in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal and the setting up of the Leveson Inquiry, so there was already a consensus that things had moved on and the PCC needed to be replaced by a body with greater independence and more powers.
My task was to keep the existing PCC system operational, whilst also designing and building the foundations for that new, tougher system, which now exists in the shape of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO). Had we not succeeded in keeping the PCC alive during those difficult months, I have no doubt IPSO could never have been established: self-regulation would have been dead in the water and a statutory solution would have been imposed; not a desirable outcome.
photograph by Robyn Thackara
Politics and Press.