Thursday, 12 July 2012

The House magazine

has done a little interview with yours truly, as follows:

Where are

they now?

Jane Griffiths, Labour MP for Reading

East, May 1997 to May 2005

THE House What are you up to now?

I have been working at the European Court

of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France,

since 2007. I was an editor at the BBC

World Service for 13 years before becoming

an MP, so in a way it is my trade. The

Court publishes its judgments in English,

or French, or both, and the judgments are

drafted by lawyers from any of the 47

member countries, so where a judgment

has been written by a lawyer whose first

language is not English it is my job to help

it make sense. It’s fascinating work – and I

can tell you most of what is said by the UK

media about the Court is utter rubbish.

THE House How does it compare to

being an MP?

There’s no comparison. I work office hours,

I do Pilates or go swimming at lunchtime

or have lunch with friends, I have the

evenings to myself for reading, writing, the

cinema (Strasbourg has a great cultural

environment), and most importantly my

life is private. I also like the international,

multi-lingual environment I work in. Being

here makes me realise how insular MPs

mostly are. And I have the opportunity to

speak other languages, which I have always


THE House How did you react to losing

your seat / life after standing-down?

I stood down with some relief. I had been

deselected by Reading Labour Party some

15 months previously, and I enjoyed those

last months as an MP, but by then I was

looking forward to a new phase in my life.

Unlike those who lose their seats, I was

able to prepare to leave Parliament, and in

that I was lucky. It is a pity that for most of

the two terms I served I had to fight against

persecution and bullying from a fellow MP

and some within my local party, but hey,

who said politics was easy?

THE House What do you miss about


Tea in the Pugin Room, the Terrace on

summer evenings, and speaking in the

Chamber. That’s a buzz like no other.

THE House What don’t you miss about


Psychological torture by the Chief Whip. And

I am a morning person, so I don’t miss the


THE House Do you keep in touch with


One or two friends from those days. And I

have made some new friends in politics in

France and the wider Europe.

THE House Did you try/would you like

to come back as an MP?

No, and ABSOLUTELY NOT. Don’t jump into

the same river twice.

Do you still follow politics closely?

Yes, it is in the blood.

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