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3:15pm on Saturday, 24th April, 2010:

Q and A


Every Saturday in one of the magazines that comes with The Guardian there's a section called Q&A, in which some welebrity or public figure is asked the same bunch of questions. Some of these tend to get the same answer almost every time (Q: What do you owe to your parents? A: Everything), but others are a bit mnore varied.

This week, they asked a bunch of politicians the questions. I was struck by the similarity of one of the answers:

Q: Which living person do you most admire?
Gordon Brown: Nelson Mandela
David Cameron: Nelson Mandela
Nick Clegg: J M Coetzee
Yvette Cooper: Nelson Mandela
Ben Bradhsaw: Nelson Mandela
Chris Huhne: Nelson Mandela
Peter Hain: Nelson Mandela
John Denham: Nelson Mandela

Looks like Nelson Mandela is the agreed-upon correct political answer, unless you want to shake up politics in which case you go with a different South African. [Note: the full question ends in "and why", so the answers are actually a bit longer than just "Nelson Mandela".]

It turns out, though, that it's not quite that simple. The Guardian asked lots of MPs these questions, and there was a range of answers — they're online here. We also get:

David Miliband: My wife
Chris Grayling: My friend John
Caroline Lucas: Aung San Suu Kyi
Andy Burnham: My brother John
Alistair Darling: All those who overcome adversity
Vince Cable: Stephen Hawking

It still looks as if Nelson Mandela is the mainstream politician's choice, with Aung San Suu Kyi the acceptable female equivalent version for those whose lives revolve around holier-than-thou credentials (Caroline Lucas is leader of the Greens). Kudos to Vince Cable for choosing a scientist, though — he'd get my vote, if his party wasn't getting it anyway.

No, I won't tell you which living person I most admire, but only because I don't want every other living person to resent me for not saying them...

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).