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20 questions with… Peter Ainsworth



Peter Ainsworth answers 20 questions on life, sustainability and everything.

A former director of corporate finance in the City of London, Ainsworth was a Conservative MP for 18 years and shadow environment secretary for four.

He is now chairman of the Big Lottery Fund, a founder member of the Robertsbridge environmental consultancy group and chairman of two national charities: Plantlife International and the Elgar Foundation.

We want the world to be as blue and green tomorrow as it was yesterday. What’s your mission?

To make the only place we have to live in better and safer.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An actor.

How would your friends describe you?

A git.

What was your ‘road to Damascus moment’ in terms of sustainability?

Wordsworth (Tintern Abbey) aged 15.

Who or what inspires you?

People who are brave enough do the right stuff despite politics.

What really grinds your gears?

No comment.

Describe your perfect day.

A picnic in the Malvern Hills  or on Aldeburgh Beach with friends.

What do you see when you look out your window at home?

Houses, robins, great tits and very big foxes.

What do you like spending your money on?


What’s your favourite holiday destination?

Umbria, always.

What’s your favourite book?

Stupid question.

What’s your favourite film?

Zulu. The greatest film ever made.

You’re made prime minister. What’s the first thing you do?

Form a government with a plan…

If you were stuck on a desert island, which famous person would you like to be stuck with and why?

The last person I would want on a desert island is a celeb. The first person is my wife.

What was the best piece of advice you have ever been given? And the worst?

Best: keep buggering on (Churchill). Worst: don’t you think we should pause for a minute?

What would you like to be doing five years from now?

Being alive.

What’s your biggest regret?

Replying to this.

What one thing would you encourage readers to do to make their life more sustainable?

Fix the roof.

What’s the one idea that you think could change the world for the better?

An end to killing animals and plants and people.

What’s your favourite quote?

An Arundel Tomb – Larkin.

Peter Ainsworth is chair of the Big Lottery Fund. 

Further reading:

Former MP Peter Ainsworth: I worked in the City, but I’m pleased I didn’t stay

Conservatism and conservation: why Tories are born to be green

Coalition’s green fatigue is a ‘betrayal of conservatism itself’

Are capitalism and conservation incompatible?

We need investment to return to its ‘patient evolutionary path’