Interview An Interview With Steven Norris

An Interview With Steven Norris

Former Conservative MP and Minister for Transport for London. Ran for London mayor as the Tory candidate in the 2000 and 2004 elections.

How can politicians engage with Gen Y in order to stem the voter apathy among that demographic that we saw at the last election?

Don't patronise and don't think it's about the medium. Some people think engaging young people is about using social media. It may well be, but it's what you're saying and how you say it that matters. They need to understand why dry economics matters to them, why government spending will be their responsibility rather than ours and what they can do about it. 

How did you get into corporate speaking?

I probably got my first engagement a month or so after leaving parliament and thankfully they've kept coming ever since and as long as the audience enjoys it, like any old thespian I'll keep turning up. I really enjoy meeting new people and talking about stuff I'm passionate about.

You've worked in the both the private and public sector - which ways of working can they learn from each other in order to be more successful?

The two sectors really are different. They are different cultures with wildly differing aspirations and criteria for success. It's why so few successful business people end up as successful parliamentarians. In business be reasonable and do it my way. In politics remember that they'll forgive you for being wrong but they'll never forgive you for being right. The truth is the two do have a lot to learn from each other. And we desperately need more people with real business experience in politics.

In your years as a politician, you must have heard a huge range of different speakers, who is the most impressive person you have seen?

The most impressive I ever heard live was the late Malcolm X, the black power activist who visited the Oxford Union when I was an undergraduate. He was mesmeric, articulate, passionate and engaging. He was assassinated a year later but he left an indelible mark. In the Commons I think of Enoch Powell, utterly compelling whether you agreed with him or not, and believe it or not, Ted Heath in his later years. Of this generation William Hague in full flow is a delight. He'll be sorely missed.

How do you like to relax when you are not working?

We have a beautiful house in Gascony we retreat to whenever we can. I read (mainly political biography but the odd novel for good measure) and enjoy quiet family life. At home, I love my football. I'm a shareholder in Everton but watch Fulham nearer home with my three boys who range in age from 40 to16. But in truth I never feel the need to relax per se because I don't regard what I do as work. I love my business life and will only retire when the phone stops ringing.

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