Q: So what do you do outside of politics?
Well I'm a full time teacher at Colchester Sixth Form College and have been for 27 years so that takes up a great deal of my time. I've just finished marking the A level coursework and mock exams and now it's full on revision lessons and trying to encourage the students to do as much graft as possible in the run up to exams. I'm the NUT rep at the college.
Q: Yes but what else besides work?
I volunteer regularly at Outhouse East, Colchester's LGBT charity, and am on the board of trustees. I am an avid reader of history and fiction; I have just finished John Guy's book on Thomas Becket. Late medieval history, particularly the Wars of the Roses, is a particular interest of mine and I grew up not far from the site of the Battle of Bosworth. I'm also an avid fan of cult tv/sci fi from the 60s and 70s : Doctor Who, Blake's 7, Survivors to name but a few.
Q: But isn't sci-fi is geeky and shouldn't you play down your involvement with a gay charity?
No and no and I'd find anyone asking such questions to be amusingly anachronistic. I fail to see why an interest in Doctor Who is any more geeky or nerdy than the guy who collects car magazines or the bloke into war gaming or football. As far as the LGBT angle is concerned I doubt there are many voters who still think that politicians can only be heterosexual males with a wife and two children in 2017 .
Q: So where did you grow up?
I was born in Leicester and grew up in Leicestershire near Hinckley and Bosworth. As I said it was not far from the site of the Battle of Bosworth where Richard III was killed. I was extremely pleased when Richard's remains were discovered and reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. It was a great moment for the city and has brought over £45 million of investment into Leicester. I used to work at Leicester Royal Infirmary as a trainee accountant.
|As Leicestershire lad 1979|
Q: How do you think your background has shaped you?
Well I've lived in various social worlds in my life which I think gives me an understanding of a range of different people. I never have and never would want to live in an echo chamber which seems far too common among the politician set. My parents didn't live together and my mother worked in a boot and shoe factory and my dad, who lived with his parents in Hinckley, was a linesman fixing electric wires. So that's a pretty working class start. I went to comprehensive schools Heathfield High School and then Earl Shilton Community College. Both are now one single academy which makes me shudder as they served me well. Teachers like Mr Clarke, Mr Chitty and Miss Mclintock inspired my love of History. There were some brilliant teachers in those schools and I made it through sixth form and got into Lancaster University in 1985, the first of my family to go to university. Going to university meant something to me, it was not something I took for granted. I think too many people involved in politics are not only distanced from the majority of people but also look down on them, often unconsciously.
|At Lancaster University 1988|
Q: So when did you move to Colchester?
In 1990 when I came to work at the Sixth Form College. I'd has a job as a trainee accountant at Leicester Royal Infirmary which I didn't enjoy one bit. Hardly surprising as I've no interest in numbers or figures. I applied as quick as I could for teacher training, which I did at Nottingham University's school of education. Then came to Colchester. I've been here for nearly 27 years and I was 23 when I arrived so that's most of my life. So I may not be an Essex native but I think I've earned the right to call myself a Colchestrian. I know that Colchester people value its Sixth Form College and I'm proud to have been part of a History department that has offered such a wide range of subjects and options over the years.
Q: Why did you get into politics?
I've always been 'into politics' in the sense of being interested in it. However I joined the Green Party in 2012 because I was angry about two things ; the swingeing cuts being imposed on education, public services and pensions and the huge overdevelopment of our countryside. The coalition government's tuition fee policy made me furious as the prospect of being saddled with £45,000 + worth of debts would certainly have impacted badly on me in later life. I went to university for free so why shouldn't the millenials? Then the Lib Dem controlled Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council wanted to build a huge urban sprawl estate on the countryside near to where I grew up in Leicestershire. I've always been interested in conservation and wildlife protection and I'd joined the Green Party in the 1990s as a non-active member. It was around the time of Swampy and the Newbury bypass roads protests that were in the news. I wasn't active in any way but I sympathised with green causes. Now however I decided to get more involved.
Q: Are you a glass half empty or a glass half full kind of person?
Both I think. I do think that we need to be realistic about the world and not overly, completely optimistic about everything. I wonder how far that state of mind is from being wilfully indifferent or just unimaginative. You have to recognise that there are awful things going on which are going to be very hard to reverse such as the underfunding of the NHS, the catastrophic decline in global wildlife and of course climate change. However taking a fatalistic approach to these things without any optimism at all or capacity to believe that you can do your bit to change things is just copping out.
|Cleaning up the Colne|