Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Influences: Lynton Charles MP

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Influences: Lynton Charles MP

Article excerpt

Shadow heritage spokesperson (youth and television)

Which books and authors have had the greatest effect on your political beliefs?

Mikhail Gorbachev's Memoirs are an inspiration to all those of us close to achieving power, and a reminder that good intentions are not enough. Robert Tressell's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a reminder of the inhumanity of an unfettered free market, and Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint a reminder of the humanity of the unfettered teenager.

Name one film, book, play, poem and song or piece of music that you would like everyone to see, read or hear.

Film: Woodstock, a reminder of ideals based on community.

Book: The Bible. Or Melvyn Bragg's Credo. We all need a reminder that there's something bigger than us.

Play: Enough Reminders Already, Paul Simon's farce set in a Jewish suburb of New York.

Poem: Paradise Regained, by John Milton (because "Labour's coming home!")

Song: Something In the Air by Thunderclap Newman. The piano riff in the middle is good.

In the early stages of your life, which figures stood out as an important influence on you?

Tariq Ali and my dad, Reginald. The first for his charisma and radicalism (albeit misplaced) and the latter for his family values (although taken to extremes when cutting my sister off for becoming pregnant while not married). Put the two together and you've got me!

What event during your lifetime has had the greatest effect on your political beliefs?

The general election of 1997 will prove to be the watershed of the late 20th century, ushering in a great, reforming Labour administration. …

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