00:01 My name’s Lord Newby and I’m a Liberal Democrat member of the House of Lords. I speak for the party on the economy, so that means whenever there’s a discussion in the House of Lords about the economy or banks or trade I tend to have to explain what our policy is and ask questions of the government about it.
00:22 If anybody had said to me aged 16 or 18 that I’d be doing what I’d be doing now I would have just laughed at them, and at no point in my life could you have predicted really what was going to happen next.
00:36 I grew up in Rothwell which is half way between Leeds and Wakefield in West Yorkshire and my family going back a couple of generations were quarrymen and miners my dad was an official in the Yorkshire electricity board all his life and was a frustrated musician. My main hobby as a boy was playing in a brass band and I can remember very much weekends spent with the brass band going round playing either at concerts or playing at contests, cos brass banding in West Yorkshire was very, very competitive.
01:07 It was a relatively small school, I was never any good at sport which was a bit of a downside, cricket was part of my life without myself ever actually being very good at it. I started off not doing very well, and did particularly badly at English and I had an English teacher who one day got really fed up with me and basically said, this last piece of work is hopeless and you can just do a lot better than that and gave me some advice about how to do it, and it was, that was a penny dropping in my mind I think. And I started doing better at English but better at everything else and I ended up doing reasonably well.
01:44 I hadn’t the faintest clue which university to go to, or really what I wanted to do, and I put down as my top preference that I was going to go to Lancaster university to do an accountancy course cos that was sort of semi vocational and very safe and the second English teacher said, why don’t you apply to Oxford, well I’d never thought of applying to Oxford cos it was sort of not the kind of thing that you did from this little school. Anyway I did apply to Oxford much to the headmaster’s irritation, he couldn’t see any point in this at all, total waste of time and to my amazement I got in.
02:21 Well contrary to today the trendy thing to do the high status thing to do in 1974 was to go and work in the civil service and a lot of my friends and I applied to go and work in the civil service and that’s where I ended up, and I got placed in customs and excise which was part of the treasury and I was pretty fed up because I thought it would be, you know it was a low status department and not what I’d really expected.
02:49 I’d worked for the Liberal Democrats and Paddy Ashdown in a voluntary capacity during his time as leader and before that I’d been chief executive of the Social Democratic party which helped form the Liberal Democrats with the Liberal party, and I’d been very much involved in putting the two parties together. A number of MPs were leaving the Labour party to join the Social Democratic party or to form the Social Democrats, some of whom I knew, and it was one of those moments I just thought, I can’t sit here when there’s this new potential for change in British politics that I do believe in.
03:22 I applied, I got the job, and I left the civil service.
03:26 So what I do now is I advise people in the general area of corporate responsibility which is how companies are good corporate citizens and I specialise in putting together partnerships between the private sector and charities and the public sector.
03:45 The work we’re doing abroad is around using sport as a tool for education and development, I’ve been working in this area in the UK for 12 years with the Prince’s Trust and working with the professional football, cricket and rugby clubs to use the power of sport to motivate children who are not doing very well at school.