Confused mapVia Claes and Helena, I’ve been asked to answer a bunch of questions about what my political views are and how I come to believe in what I believe in presently. So here goes…

1. Your political ideology?
Socialism (or social democracy? – don’t necesarily believe in all the tenets of socialism, but is social democracy an ideology?), republicanism, secularism, environmentalism, federalism. And, yes, federalism is an ideology that I reckon is more concrete than internationalism!

2. Political ideology you despise the most?
Religious fundamentalism

3. Materialist or idealist?
Too idealist. I keep on holding on to a series of idealist dreams, despite not getting close to seeing any of them implemented.

4. Absolute or relative ethics in politics?
Certain absolutes that cannot be transgressed, but the rest is very much relative. There are few completely clear cut absolute questions in politics, at least in a Western democracy today.

5. Event that triggered your political awakening?
John Major’s victory in the 1992 general election. I was 12 and remember at 10pm going downstairs to tell my parents that Kinnock would not win, and recall them being understandably depressed.

6) Political detour you have taken?
Not many. Occupying buildings as a protest against student tuition fees while an undergraduate in Oxford was probably a radical, against-the-grain, shout from the outside kind of diversion that I am not likely to repeat. I also spent a hell of a lot of time and effort on campaigns for federalism in JEF – it was massively interesting and useful, but did not directly lead anywhere.

7) Person that influenced you in politics?
Paul Flynn, the MP for Newport West where I first joined the Labour Party. He was kind and considerate enough to take someone 20 years younger than anyone else in the local party reasonably seriously, and his thoughtful opposition to the worst excesses of the Blair government is still an inspiration.

8) Book that influenced you the most in politics?
The State We’re In by Will Hutton, published in the mid-1990s, was a formative book for me. It helped crystallise some of the ideas I had managed to pick up, and shone the light into some of the more intractable problems of British society. Hutton remains one of the very best political thinkers in the UK as far as I am concerned – if only he would run for office somewhere!

9) Greatest shortcoming in your political ideology?

An inability for those that believe in social democracy to practice what they preach. It’s fine talking of the values of democracy and social cohesion, but if that means the party that stands for those views has to be authoritarian and centralising internally something really must be wrong.

10) Single most important political question?
Global warming

So the challenge now has to be passed on to some others… I’ll send it on to Miranda and Dani.


  1. Richard

    Hi Jon,

    Concerning “materialism”, doesn’t it depend whether one is using the ordinary English sense of the world or the philosophical sense? In ordinary English, materialism means an excessive concern with material wealth. In philosophy, it means the belief that spiritual and mental phenomena have no existence independent of physical phenomena – and I think many of us would agree with this idea and would support it against the idealist theory, which states that reality is ultimately non-material.

    When you say that federalism is a more meaningful ideology than internationalism, do you mean world federalism or do you mean European federalism? If you mean world federalism than I can see that you’re right, but if you’re only referring to the EU, then I think internationalism contains insights than European federalism on its own can’t compete with.

  2. Thanks, Jon! I am fresh in from Labour party conference so am politically refreshed and ready to tackle your questions! I shall have a go over the weekend:-)

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