Why did you get involved in the political world?
I grew up in a political family. My father was an academic economist who worked for the Labour party and then joined the Conservatives, so politics seemed important from an early age.
When did you join your political party?
Even though I was very young, my dad’s decision to join the Conservatives had a big effect. In the early 80s, when I was more politically aware, the Conservatives seemed, perhaps ironically, the more radical party, willing to go against the prevailing consensus if they believed they were right. That still holds true today.
What is your earliest political memory?
The EC referendum campaign in 1975 — I remember stuffing envelopes and collecting stickers.
Which one law would you repeal?
There are hundreds of laws I would repeal, but I would start with many of Labour’s Criminal Justice Acts.
Which one law would you introduce?
One that ensured a fully-funded non-means tested state pension for all.
What’s your favourite view in the world?
My constituency from the Ridgeway.
What’s your favourite political quotation?
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”.
What music gets you up to dance?
I was dancing at a party when a girl came up to me and said “You dance like a Tory MP”. She had no idea I was a Tory candidate. I have never danced since then, except in private with my children.
If you could have been present at any debate in the House of Commons over the last three hundred years, which would it have been , and why?
An impossible question to answer — perhaps the debate on the Munich agreement, or one of the debates on slavery.
Imagine you are planning a dinner party, pick six people (living or dead) to invite
Barack Obama and Nelson Mandela are the two people living I would most like to meet. From the past, I would love to spend time with Charles James Fox, and I am a Kennedy fan. On the cultural side, as places are running out, Shakespeare and Mozart are two people I would probably try and track down if I had a time machine.
Who is your best friend in politics?
What’s your favourite form of transport?
What’s your favourite dish?
Shepherd’s pie with peas.
What do you dream about?
World peace — doesn’t everyone?
When did you last cry, and why?
Watching Warhorse at the National Theatre.
What’s the last thing you bought in a shop?
What’s the funniest You Tube video you’ve recently seen?
I watch tractor videos on YouTube with my son. They are not funny, but his reaction — of sheer unadulterated excitement — is.
What is the best speech you have ever heard (and been present at)?
That’s a tough one. I guess David Cameron’s Blackpool speech when he was running for leader. Or one of Michael Gove’s speeches at the Oxford Union.
Who’s your favourite comedian?
Have you ever cried at a film? Which one(s)?
I always cry in films.
Which is your favourite political biography or autobiography?
Robert Caro’s The Years of Lyndon Johnson, an epic which is the best insight into American politics available.
What is your favourite novel?
Atonement by Ian McEwan.
Name a book you have read which has failed to live up to expectations
John Hoskyns’ Just in Time. Iain Dale recommended it. Never again.
Who would you like to say sorry to, and why?
My wife — I do every day for being useless.
What job would you be doing if you weren’t involved in the political world?
I was a lawyer, I hated the bar, but I regret not transferring to be a solicitor, as I think I would have liked the mix of business and the law.
What’s the best holiday you have been on?
Riding in Argentina.
Where in the world would you most like to go on holiday?
I have a list of places I would still love to go to — Tokyo, Cuba, Ethiopia, the Pyramids, Cape Town, as well as a riding safari in Africa. As we spend our summer holidays in Newcastle and Cornwall, it will be a while before we get there.
When was the last time you used public transport?
What do you collect?
Programmes of things I have seen. T-shirts from places I have been.
What is your most unusual hobby?
I don’t have a hobby, which is unusual.
When was the last time you went to the theatre and what did you see?
Warhorse; August: Osage County; Don Juan; Gethsemane; Hamlet — I go to the theatre a lot.
Which newspapers do you read regularly?
The Daily Telegraph.
Which magazines do you subscribe to?
Which five words would your friends use about you?
Funny, good company, exasperating.
Which five words would your enemies use about you?
See above but add arrogant.
Are you into sport? If so, which ones?
I like watching football, a terrible cliche I know. I might take up shooting so I can compete in the 2012 Olympics.
Who is your favourite football team and player?
Chelsea and Drogba.
Who is your political hero?
Margaret Thatcher and JFK.
Who is your political hate figure?
You know who.
What’s your most memorable time in politics?
What’s your most embarrassing moment in politics?
Too numerous to mention.
What’s your prediction for the next general election?
Who is your favourite and least favourite political interviewer?
David Frost was brilliant. Nice interviewers always get the best answers, because their subjects get comfortable, and comfortable people reveal more. Andrew Neil, while more abrasive, is the best broadcaster on TV at the moment, incredibly well informed and incisive. Paxo is the worst, because it is all about him.
What do you never miss on TV?
Coronation Street and EastEnders if I am at home because my wife is a devoted fan.
Which current foreign politician do you most admire?
Obama, of course.
What do you listen to / watch when you get up in the morning?
Complete this sentence: The thing I hate about politics is...
Party politics, because good policies get shot down for partisan reasons.
Complete this sentence: The thing I love about politics is...
Party politics, because of the camaraderie.
What would you like your political epitaph to be?
The best prime minister since Thatcher (only kidding!).