In what is only the second edition of the school’s ‘by the students for the students’ newspaper, The Lambrook Times; our young writers managed to secure an interview with Sir Anthony Seldon. Sir Anthony is currently the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham and previously the 13th Master (Headmaster) of Wellington College. In the article below, the Year 8 journalists confidently probed the political author for his writing tips and research methods as well as garnered some political views from this leading educator. We have included the full article below.
Established this academic year, The Lambrook Times is packed full of school reviews, interviews, competitions and a fashion page, as well as insightful articles that give the reader a pupils’ perspective on life at Lambrook. A new edition of the Lambrook Times is available to buy each half term in the main reception and in the Pre Prep office; a fantastic read for all the family and, priced at 50p, The Lambrook Times is a great way to hear the voices of the young editors and journalists at Lambrook as well as supporting the school’s charity, First Days.
SUMMARY OF THE INTERVIEW WITH ANTHONY SELDON, by Lambrook Year 8 Pupils
We were very lucky to be able to interview Sir Anthony Seldon. He has previously been The Master at Wellington College and is now the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham. He is well known for his political biographies and has written about famous political figures such as Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Theresa May.
- Sir Anthony wrote the ‘At Number 10’ series because he has a great fascination and curiosity about what goes on behind the black doors of Number 10 Downing Street, what happens when the doors shut and what goes on behind the scenes. For example, when there is terrorist attack in the country, how they organise and what happens after, and what goes on when a leader such as Mr. Trump comes to visit the UK and what their meetings are about. The Prime Minister has about 10,000 enquires a day, and Sir Anthony is interested in how they prioritise certain things.
- He admires the majority of politicians, as they are very hard working but he dislikes shows like ‘Mock the Week’, as he thinks politicians should be taken seriously and not cynically. He deeply admires Theresa May because of her determination and her good values and Jo Swinson for the Liberal Democrats because she believes deeply in her cause. Sir Anthony also admires Jo Cox the MP who made a huge difference and who was sadly assassinated on the 16th of June 2016.
- Sir Anthony ’s view on the political situation in the UK is that he hopes that the elections will result in government that will have a majority and is able to take decisive action. He thinks that party leaders need to be able to make good decisions because it is their job to do it. If you can’t do it, you can’t be Prime Minister which is why Boris Johnson needs to be able to make a good deal and make the biggest success of it as possible. He thinks that the worst outcome would be an indecisive parliament.
- Sir Anthony believes that the new speaker in parliament, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, is desperately hoping for a clear majority because it makes clear leadership easier. Unclear leadership is what went wrong for John Bercow. It will make the new speaker have an easier job if order is restored. Sir Anthony sends good luck to him and thinks that he has signs of doing a good job although, as with prime ministers, it is sometimes hard to tell how things will go until someone has been in post for a while.
- To source all of the information for his biographies, Sir Anthony has to sort through about 5 million words of research whilst only publishing 200,000 of them in the final draft. That is only about 4% of the information gathered. He has to be very clear about the narrative line and know exactly what route the book is going to take in terms of structure and information. He compared this to a bus ride to a school match because you need to know your exact route at the beginning and you mustn’t go off on side roads, no matter how interesting they may be.
- Sir Anthony intends to write a new book about Mr. Johnson but is undecided whether to call his next book ‘Boris at Ten’ or ‘Johnson at Ten’ just because Mr. Johnson prefers to go by Boris because it is part of his persona, doesn’t mean the book should be called ‘Boris at Ten.’ Sir Anthony , after every book he writes he thinks to himself ‘never again’ but yet his curiosity overpowers that never again feeling and he ends up writing a new book.
Sir Anthony thinks writing the books is such fun and, when he is writing them, it is a bit like being an explorer or a mountaineer because it is a difficult challenge, with many hazards. Sir Anthony thinks that his next book will probably be about education in the 21st century.
Interview by Zachary and Orson, Year 8
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