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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
The politics of having fun
Enoch Powell on pogo stick
The photograph which started it all, the late Enoch Powell pogoing
A teenager is claiming a political victory after more than 100 MPs, peers, chancellors and prime ministers helped him to win a bet with his dad.

Jason Whiley, 18, took action when his dad showed him a photograph of former health minister Enoch Powell playing on a pogo stick and claimed that politicians had lost their sense of fun.

Disagreeing, the A-level student wrote to 150 politicians.

He asked: "Have you ever been on a skateboard, roller skates or blades, a space hopper, a go kart, a death slide, a non-motorised scooter, a BMX bike, or any other locomotive child's toy?"

Everyone says politicians don't do cool stuff. But they do
Jason Whiley

To Jason's surprise more than 80 of them replied and he assembled a website, which now attracts up to 18,000 enquiries a day, as a personal challenge to his father's assertion.

Few admitted to having completed any or all of Jason's activities.

But they others did highlight daring antics.

Guess the caption

Tony Benn said: "I have had a bike and once owned a little electric scooter, but it was far too dangerous.

"Political life is dangerous enough as it is."

And Lord Peyton of Yeovil wrote: "At my age and in the present state of the world, I may be possibly on a 'death slide' without knowing it."

William Hague at theme park
William Hague was pictured wearing a baseball cap on a log flume ride
While Stephen Dorrell claimed politicians were nowadays far too fearful of their pictures ending up on the "Guess the Caption" competition.

But some respondents did shed light on their extra-curricular activities, with some sending evidence of themselves engaged in "fun things".

Ken Clarke revealed he had been in a saloon racing car around Brands Hatch.

And William Hague, who was famously pictured wearing a baseball cap on a log flume ride, told Jason he has a blue belt in judo and enjoys running with Seb Coe.

Jason has even discovered some pictures the politicians had forgotten about, including Margaret Thatcher sledging.

He says he will never look at politicians in the same light again.

"Everyone said that none of them would write back. But lots did. And this website is the result," he said.

'Interesting and helpful'

"Everyone says politicians don't do cool stuff. But they do."

The site has also sparked an international response with people from as far away as Holland, the US and Canada sending him their photos and attempting the project with their own politicians.

"I've been getting about 16 to 18,000 (enquiries) a day since Friday. I have been completely surprised by how popular it's been.

"Lots of the Americans don't think their politicians would give such good answers as ours.

"They were surprised how interesting and helpful ours were."

Jason admits his project may be to blame for his failed A-level, ironically in politics, but he is continuing his quest asking for anyone with suggestions of any more photos to get in touch.

"I think I won the bet, but my dad thinks he won too."

In pictures: Politicians have fun too
20 Aug 03  |  Photo Gallery
'Boring' election under attack
15 Apr 03  |  South East Wales
'I'm no bore' says Baker
14 Jun 02  |  Politics

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