Saturday, 15 October 2016

Saturday Interview: Dave Allport

Dave Allport is a Labour councillor for Talke on Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council and a town councillor in Kidsgrove. Dave is also a mental health nurse and keen campaigner, and is one of the super-activists who comprise Labour's Kidsgrove mafia. You can follow Dave on Twitter here.

During the Labour leadership election, you decided to back Owen Smith. Was this an easy decision to make?

The decision was not a difficult one to make as I considered Owen Smith to be the better candidate. The fact that we were in this situation in the first place was what I found hard. I joined the Labour Party, regardless of leader. To be honest the last four leaders of the party would not have been my preferred choice. However, I am a democrat and accept all of those results. I am pleased that Jeremy Corbyn has inspired many people to engage in politics, and particularly our party. The issue I have is that we are a proud movement and have never, not even in 1997, been about one person. I am not a Blairite nor a Corbynista but a member of the Labour Party.

Why do you think Jeremy still attracts a huge following in the party, despite the well publicised criticisms and negative polling?

I think that he attracts such a huge following because, he is seen as being separate from Metropolitan elite. He has had the luxury of a safe Labour seat for 33 years and has been able to retain his ideology without challenge, and has never had to compromise because he hasn't taken on the burden of responsibility of office before. He is able to criticise and march against things as he is in opposition, so I wonder how he would be if he was in power?

If the party is to transform that enthusiasm in the party to widespread election-winning support, what do you think we have to do?

Listen to people other than those who are heaping adulation on the leader. Accept that compromise is inevitable and that power is the only way we can help improve the lives of vulnerable people.

How did you get involved in politics?

I have always been interested in politics. I grew up in the 1980’s, so was subjected to one of the most divisive British politicians ever on the news every night. I think one of the main reasons people are no longer engaged in politics is the fact that many people no longer watch the news or read a newspaper. Back in the day, we didn’t have a television in every room or tablets, laptops, etc. so we had no choice but to watch the news with our parents each night. In addition there were very distinct ideological differences between the two main parties, which almost vanished post-Thatcher, until very recently. Which is a possible explanation for popularity of Jeremy Corbyn.

Anyway, I’m digressing. I was a branch secretary of a trade union in my early 20s, although was not a member of the Labour party. In 2010, I was supposed to be finishing work at 20:30 hrs on general election day and planned to vote (for Joan Walley) on my way home from work. Unfortunately I was not able to leave on time and was unable to vote. My friend Rebecca called me a hypocrite, as I was always preaching politics. It was the following day that I joined the Labour party.

And why did you decide to become a councillor?

During the 2010 election campaign, my then neighbour and I were chatting outside one evening and were approached by the local Labour candidate for Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, Kyle Robinson. We both pledged our support. After joining the party, I was contacted by Kyle asking if I would like to become involved in Butt lane and Kidsgrove and also stand for Kidsgrove town council in 2011. Six weeks prior to the election, the candidate for Talke in NULBC elections withdrew and I was persuaded to stand. I wasn’t expected to win the seat, but we fought an effective campaign and took the seat from the LibDems. They had held it for over 20 years. So I guess I kind of fell into it.

Are there any blogs or other politics/comments websites you regularly follow?

Nothing specific, I do try to watch the news and read the papers regularly and watch political programmes.

Are you reading anything at the moment?

I am currently reading John Lydon’s second autobiography, Anger is an Energy.

Do you have a favourite novel?

Iain Banks The Wasp Factory which I have recently re-read.

Are there any works of non-fiction that has had a major influence on how you think about the world?

I have always read a lot of biographies and auto biographies. I used to be very idealistic, as most teenagers are, before becoming cynical and jaded. I now consider that I have a happy medium between the two. I have been most inspired by people who remained true to themselves. Not just the obvious ones like Martin Luther King, Ghandi, and Nelson Mandela, but people like Billie Jean King, whose achievements do not receive the recognition they deserve. She literally created women’s professional sport in an era of misogyny and paternalism. People who are able to effect social change and attitudes with dignity, whilst being true to themselves are perhaps those I find most inspiring. However there are also plenty of people who have achieved that in a very negative and destructive way. I won’t mention any of their names though.

Who are your biggest intellectual influences?

I can’t think of anyone specific person. Certain teachers and lecturers have inspired me as have artists, sportsmen, musicians and normal everyday people who have a beautiful spirit. A lady I used to work with called Jean Phillips, springs to mind. She had the most amazing aura about her.

And has there ever been an event/moment that has exercised a similar influence?

There have been many. The Miners' Strike, the end of Apartheid, 1997 election. Liverpool winning the champions league final in 2005 after being 3-0 down at half time.

How many political organisations have you been a member of?


Is there anything you particularly enjoy about political activity?

Meeting people

Can you name an idea or an issue you've changed your mind about?

The royal family ... I’m now a confirmed republican

What set of ideas do you think it most important to disseminate?

The value and potential of each of us.

What set of ideas do you think it most important to combat?

Almost everything the Daily Mail holds dear.

Do you have any political heroes?

Attlee, Gorbachev, Ghandi, Mandela, Lincoln, Kinnock

How about political villains?

Murdoch, Trump, Thatcher, Jeremy Hunt, Hitler

What do you think is the most pressing political task of the day?

Aspiration, inspiration and opportunity for young people. We cannot afford to lose another generation.

If you could affect a major policy change, what would it be?

Renationalise railways. Re-regulate public transport.

What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world?

Global warming. Rising sea levels is only going to create more climate refugees.

What would be your most important piece of advice about life?

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger

What is your favourite song?

Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order

Do you have a favourite video game?

I never play video games.

And what was the last film you saw?

The Naked Civil Servant

What do you consider the most important personal quality in others?

Generosity of spirit

What fault in others do you most dislike?

Gratuitous whinging

And any pet peeves?

Rudeness, Arrogance, Bigotry, Bullying, Greed

What piece of advice would you give to your much younger self?

Life will get much better for you.

What do you like doing in your spare time?

Reading, swimming, tennis, cycling, music, visiting new places, cooking, eating out, seeing friends and family.

What is your most treasured possession?

My physical and mental health

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Oh yes

What talent would you most like to have?


If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for?

Personal happiness

And if you were to suddenly win or inherit an enormous sum of money, would it change you and how would you spend it?

It would obviously change me in some way, although I doubt I would change significantly. I would make sure my parents were okay and look after the people who have treated me well.

If you could go for a drink with three people, past or present, who would they be?

Victoria Wood, John McEnroe, John Peel

Being a Labour councillor can be quite tough. Would you recommend it?

I would only recommend it to someone who genuinely held Labour values. I have seen too many people use the party and the position for personal gain, either financial, influence or self-importance, who couldn’t give a shit about the Labour party.