Journalists often ask this question to help increase identification between their subjects and their readership.
It's quite a good way of indicating sympathies, but it is wide open to manipulation - which politican, for example, is going to say that Nelson Mandela didn't set an example worth following (whether for representing a popular movement so eloquently, or because he lead that movement into office and used his tenure to good effect)?
I think how a person responds and the reasoning they give is more informative than what name they provide. So the person who responded with the line "normal people don't have heroes," struck a chord with me (I won't name them, they'll know who they are), though I don't necessarily agree (aren't we all abnormal?).
Most important is to be original and speak from the heart.
So I'll provide my answer.
I'm inspired by people I know personally (of which there are a few in the LibDems), but if I had to name any famous names I think I'd say Neil Armstrong.
Why? Not because he was the first man on the moon, but because of the way he conducted himself having been entrusted with such an iconic responsibility.
This crowning triumph of Cold War propaganda for his nation was absolutely demolished in preference for a univeral common humanity by his completely apt and appropriate line on taking that first small step. With those simple words he enabled people on all sides to share something unique, something which resonated far beyond that short moment.
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