Life Stories: Murdo Fraser
The Conservative MSP tells us about his favourite books
What was your favourite book as a child?
It’s not strictly a children’s book, but I first read King Solomon’s Mines by H Rider Haggard when I was 11, and loved it. It is a classic tale of adventure and derring-do, and I can still read and enjoy it.
Which fictional character did you most identify with as a child?
I was a fan of Spiderman comics, so it has to be Peter Parker. A geeky kid but with amazing superpowers, what was not to like?
Is there a book which got you into politics?
Not a political book as such, but My Early Life by Winston Churchill is a great read. Churchill is one of my political heroes, and had a fascinating career in the army and as a journalist before entering politics – including taking part in a cavalry charge in the Sudan and escaping a Boer POW camp. It’s a hinterland that today’s politicians can only dream of.
Which book couldn’t you finish?
Moby Dick. I tried twice but could never get past the first few chapters. No sign of a whale anywhere. Life’s too short to carry on reading!
What is your favourite novel and why?
My two favourite writers are Walter Scott and Evelyn Waugh. Scott is an unmatched storyteller, and it is just a pity that his prose style is deemed too difficult for modern readers. Waugh’s novels are outstanding, and can be very funny. To me the best is Scoop, a hilarious story of mistaken identity and adventure journalism.
Is there a book you would recommend to other MSPs?
The historian Tom Holland writes brilliantly, and his recent work Dominion: The Making of the Western Mind has to be one of the finest books of the 21st century. He makes a convincing case that the values that underpin our society, and particularly our commonly-held views on human rights, civil liberties and social solidarity, are not innate but derive entirely from Christian teaching. It is challenging and compelling, and everyone should read it.
Which book would you be embarrassed about others seeing on your bookshelf during a Zoom call?
Inside Left by Derek Hatton. Largely forgotten now, Hatton was Deputy Leader of Liverpool City Council in the 1980s and a member of the Trotskyite Militant Tendency in Labour causing problems for Neil Kinnock. It’s always useful to learn from those at the other end of the political spectrum, although some eyebrows would be raised to see his book in my collection!