This week shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy takes the Uncut hot seat
What was the last film you saw in the cinema?
Build a Rocket Boys by Elbow.
Which current non-Labour MP do you most admire and why?
Iain Duncan Smith. He had a terrible time as Tory leader but has had the personal strength to bounce back, which I admire. Also, even though I don’t agree with many of his reforms, he came to Glasgow and seems to have had an awakening about poverty.
Who was your first crush?
Julie Dickson aged six. We used to share our school packed lunches. Then she emigrated to Canada and broke my heart. I don’t remember getting the chance to say goodbye.
What is the best thing about being British?
Tolerance – we are not a nation of extremes.
Describe David Cameron in three words.
Confident but arrogant.
Do you believe that the message of socialism alleviating inequality will be heard in our lifetime?
Yes it will be heard, but politics is about turning words into action – that’s the bigger challenge for Labour
Is it wrong to hate Tories?
In football I try to play the ball and not the man. I don’t always manage it as anyone who has played against me will know. I try the same approach in politics, so while I hate some of their policies I don’t hate Tories as people. Hatred would hinder our understanding of why ten million people voted for them last year.
What is your most irrational fear?
Never becoming a grandfather.
What is your favourite meal to cook yourself?
I am a veggie so something like asparagus risotto.
Which labour politician, living or dead, do you most admire?
There are so many to choose from, especially those who rose without formal education in the past. I’ve always admired Ellen Wilkinson for her personal bravery but will go for Anthony Crosland who was an accomplished minister and an even better clear thinker. His words are still important today.
If any, what instruments can you play?
Where is the best place to eat in your constituency?
The Indian restaurant across the road from my house.
If the queen exiled you from the UK, where would you live?
Cape Town. I lived there as a teenager during apartheid. I have been back and it has changed dramatically for the better.
What is the best political speech that has been made in your lifetime?
Internationally the inclination is to go for Nelson Mandela’s second speech the day after he was released in Soweto.
Closer to home Michael Foot’s speech in the Commons on the confidence motion when he was leader of the House in 1979 stands out. But I’ll go for John Smith’s 1993 economic attack on Major’s government in Parliament – witty and forensic, much of it is true even today:
“There is proof abundant that this is a Government who are untrustworthy and incompetent … Perhaps their most defining characteristic is an aggressive, bullying and dogmatic obstinacy which assumes that they are entitled to control our affairs without the slightest recognition of the expertise of others or any opposing opinion.”
All time favourite TV series?
Fawlty Towers, it has stayed brilliant partly because they only made twelve episodes and have avoided so many requests to make more than just the two series. Currently CSI Las Vegas and the modern Doctor Who are favourites.
In a film of your life, who would play you?
No-one will make a film of my life. But if they did the lead actor would depend on whether it was a comedy, tragedy or drama. The people in my office suggest Peter Capaldi.
Xfactor or Strictly Come Dancing?
Xfactor but Britain’s Got Talent is more fun than both.
Bevan or Gaitskell and why?
The temptation in these things is to say a bit of both which would be the truth, but if I have to pick one then I’d go with Gaitskell. He reminds us that for all our moral outrage about inherited inequality we have to constantly reach beyond our own supporters if we are to do anything about it: “Let us not forget that we can never go farther than we can persuade at least half of the people to go”. There is a temptation to see them as binary characters, but in truth they were both brilliant individuals with complicated personalities and intricate politics.
Who is the most famous non-political person you have met?
Do you have any piercings or tattoos – if no have you ever come close?
The ear piercing of my teenage years has long since healed over. I’ll leave the tattoos to my wife, Claire.
Favourite book, poem and film?
Book : I don’t have one favourite book. I usually give whatever I’m reading 100 pages and if I’m not enjoying it I start a new one. The only book I’ve ever read twice is The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. I’m currently reading A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth.
Film: Spartacus or Twelve Angry Men.
Poem: Do not go gentle into that good night, by Dylan Thomas.
Jim Murphy is the Labour MP for East Renfrewshire and shadow secretary of state for defence.