Many, many thanks to the dozens of people who emailed in questions for Bob - apologies if your is not included but I had to limit the number in the end. Also a big thanks to Bob - both for his answers and for his wonderful blog.
PS - if you have a question for Iain Dale please let me have it asap - email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org
Questions to Bob Piper
Q. Who was the greatest Labour Leader never to become Prime Minister, and why?
Bob Piper: Not a great list to choose from, but it would have to be Keir Hardie for his support for universal suffrage, republicanism, opposition to war, and anti-imperialism.
Q. You are cast adrift in a rowing boat with Tony Benn, Ken Livingstone, Che Guevara and Nelson Mandela. The boat is sinking and someone has to go overboard to save it. Who and why?
BP: Guevara. He is already dead!
Q. Why have you not stood for parliament in order to get 'right inside the tent'
BP: It doesn’t appeal. I never wanted to go to public school or Oxbridge either.
Q. I understand you speak fluent Russian. Do they have a word for 'aubergine'?
BP: Yes, баклажан (pronounced baklazhan) and although I’ve never tried it there is a spread I can send you the recipe for.
Q. If you were asked to recommend one political text that you think everyone should read, what would it be?
BP: E. P. Thompson The Making of the English Working Class. In some of the lost causes of the people of the Industrial Revolution we may discover insights into social evils which we have yet to cure. Moreover, the greater part of the world today is still undergoing problems of industrialization, and of the formation of democratic institutions, analogous in many ways to our own experience during the Industrial Revolution. Causes which were lost in England might, in Asia or Africa, yet be won.
Q. What three changes would most improve government at the local level?
BP: Less Central Government regulation and inspection, and interference
Q.Which three laws would you propose to repeal if you were writing Labour's manifesto?
BP: I cannot be bothered to look up the actual legislation but I would end Foundation Trust Hospitals, stop students paying tuition fees and abolish the Identity Card legislation.
Q. If you were an MP today and could ask a question at Prime Minister Questions to Tony Blair, what would you ask him?
BP: I don’t suppose he would answer it, but I suppose the one that everyone else wants to know the answer to: when are you going to stand down?
Q. Do we need to replace Trident? If yes why? If no why not?
BP: I marched as a schoolboy way back in the 1960’s against nuclear weapons, and I have seen nothing since has changed my mind. I am not a religious person, but I do believe in the passage about beating swords into ploughshares.
Q. When did you start blogging and why do you think your blog so popular?
BP: February 2004, inspired by local MP Tom Watson. I don’t know that it is that popular. It is too easy for bloggers to delude themselves into thinking the whole world is reading when actually it is a few hundred people. I would imagine our local free newspaper gets more readers than even the most self-important bloggers.
Q. Who do you most like to annoy and why?
BP: Believe it or not I don’t really try to annoy anyone. If people are abusive to me, on the blog, on the phone or in person, I tend to give it back, but generally I get on with most people… (perhaps).
Q. What is your biggest regret in politics?
BP: None, guilt is not a useful emotion in politics.
Q. Who is the best Aston Villa player never to have played for England?
BP: Paul McGrath… by a country mile. But if you mean Englishman, in my lifetime, Dennis Mortimer.
Q. Which of the following statements causes you most anxiety? a) Prime Minister Tony Blair
orb) Club Chairman Doug Ellis?
BP: Ellis, easily. At least Blair is a winner (and he doesn’t claim to have invented the bicycle kick.)