Lord Adonis, Minister of State in the Department of Transport - a name and face I wasn't familiar with but now he is in the news for the best of reasons. He is on a fact finding mission this week traversing much of our railway system meeting MPs and various lobby groups along the way. He started off taking the sleeper train from Paddington to Truro on Monday night and yesterday included the branch line from Par to Newquay in his itinerary. Now I've long been a proponent of government ministers getting out and about to get a proper understanding of their brief so all credit to Andrew Adonis for taking this initiative.
My curiosity having been aroused by this guy I thought I had better do some research. Here then is a potted biography of Lord Adonis: born in 1963 Adonis was an academic at Oxford before becoming a journalist at the 'Financial Times' and the 'Observer'. In his early political life he was a Liberal Democrat before turning to the Labour party. Although he has never served as an MP he was made a life peer in 2005. Now there are those who might raise an eyebrow about him getting a life peerage because although active in politics he hasn't been through the mill of being a member of The House of Commons. That doesn't bother me too much, in fact I think it is good to have some active ministers who have had a life outside of politics and being a lord means that he is not burdened with constituency work. I've written before about my belief that there is something wrong with a system whereby a government minister has to represent his or her voters in Parliament at the same time as doing their government job - a case of "two into one won't go" perhaps.
North Cornwall LibDem MP Dan Rogerson was pleased with the Adonis trip on the Newquay branch line. Whether the south west will see any benefit as a result of the minister's journey remains to be seen but there is nothing to beat seeing a situation on the ground and talking to a variety of people before new policies are formulated.
Before setting out on this marathon five day rail journey Lord Adonis wrote a piece for 'The Times' which can be read here outlining his itinerary and his philosophy for making the trip. Worth a read.