ROBIN OAKLEY OBE



Robin Oakley has spent most of his working life patrolling the corridors of power, most recently as the BBC's Political Editor (1992-2000). 

He has now widened his political sphere, recently becoming European Political Editor of CNN.com. 

Politicians, he says are the people who tell lies to journalists and then believe what they read. "They're an acquired taste, but most of my best acquaintances, even some friends, are politicians".

His thirty years of reporting politics began in the 1960s at the Liverpool Daily Post where he combined his duties with writing comedy fillers for radio programmes. 

He irritated our legislators for some years as Crossbencher on The Sunday Express and had spells as assistant editor on Now! magazine and the Daily Mail before becoming political editor of The Times for six years from 1986-92. 

Before joining the BBC as Political Editor, Robin presented a four-part radio series The Power of Patronage and he used to record a light-hearted look at Parliament each week for the World Service. He was also a presenter of The Week in Westminster.

Politics has taken Robin around the world, following British Prime Ministers to summits and conferences. He watched Harold Wilson hearing the first news of a General Election defeat and saw John Major nervously telling British troops why they had to risk their lives in war. 

He has seen Margaret Thatcher brewing tea for a brace of dictators in an African dugout and been forced to act as an unofficial photographer or her in Siberia. He completed 26,000 miles with Mrs Thatcher in six days on an RAF VC10 and still had the energy to contribute to the in-flight cabaret (!).

Political reporting, he says, is the last refuge of the generalist. One week you are interpreting the nuances of the latest moves on health or education, the next you can be hitching a lift in a bandsmen's truck to avoid being stranded for weeks by a sandstorm in Northern Nigeria.

 Robin says he wrote a couple of "pretty deadly" political books in the 1970s. However, his latest book is entitled Valley of The Racehorse: A Year in the Life of Lambourn and is an evocative look at racing's most famous village and the people and horses who live and work there. 

Robin slips away to racecourses whenever possible. He says he never backs local horses which jog across the Epsom Downs even more slowly than he does - trying to keep at bay the ravages of three lunches a week with our political masters.

Invited to speak on both politics and horseracing, especially at lunches and dinners, Robin is described by those who invite him as amenable, friendly and constructive. His speaking style is witty, confident, entertaining and professional.

His relaxation is writing a weekly racing column for The Spectator and was awarded the OBE in the 2001 Queen's Birthday Honours list.

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