Peter Worthington has had an amazing life. And his obituary, which he wrote himself, certainly has an arresting opening line.
Former foreign secretary David Miliband did not disappoint yesterday, with a Q&A at Canterbury which included discussions of political islam, human rights, tuition fees and the Eurozone crisis. I'm looking forward to seeing how you report it. In the meantime, here's how I’ve done it…
The Eurozone crisis will only be solved if Greece is allowed to default on its debts, according to former foreign secretary David Miliband.
Speaking at the University of Kent at the start of a series of public appearances, Mr Miliband said Europe was suffering the consequences of putting politics before economics.
The Labour MP also accused the coalition government of risking the future of young people by raising university tuition fees to £9,000 a year.
Students lined the walls and sat on steps in a lecture theatre filled beyond its capacity for the question and answer session on Wednesday.
They heard Mr Miliband admit that his withdrawal from the front benches, after losing the Labour leadership contest to his brother Ed last year, allowed him to speak openly about the European financial crisis.
He criticised governments for holding protracted debates over reform of the EU bailout fund, which he described as a “soft option” that would prolong the Greek financial crisis rather than end it.
“I can’t see how Greece can survive unless it has a default,” he said. “It needs growth of between 10 and 12 per cent each year to cut into its debts and it will never do that.
“The euro was a question of the relationship between politics and economics. Economics took second place to the politics, and the consequences are being felt now.”
Mr Miliband called for reform of the European Union and rejected suggestions that Britain could shape the future of the EU and the euro by being more involved in both.
“If you end up in the graveyard you are not going to be doing much shaping,” he said.
Questioned on the state of Britain’s economy, he warned that George Osbourne’s austerity programme has stifled growth.
“The Tories have turned from a tough programme to a masochistic programme,” he said.
“At a time when the private sector doesn’t have the confidence to invest, the public sector has to step in. The worry is not that we will end up like Greece, but that we will end up like Japan – a stagnant economy.”
Mr Miliband also attacked the Conservatives on university tuition fees and claimed that they were using the Liberal Democrats as a smokescreen to push through a more radical agenda.
“It wouldn’t be a more right-wing government is it was just the Tories,” he said.
“The Tories would never have put up tuition fees. They wouldn’t have dared. What has happened is that they do it – and then everyone blames Nick Clegg.”
He described the increase in tuition fees – to a maximum of £9,000 a year from next September – as a “bridge far too far”.
“I am really worried about it. Higher education is one of the great assets of this country. People come here from across the world.
“And it is one of the greatest engines for social mobility in this country. The middle class has got bigger over the last 40 years, and one reason is better education and opportunities because of access to higher education.
“We can’t promise to abolish the fees but there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are not going to plough on with a bad system.”