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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 November 2006, 11:35 GMT
This Week's Panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was broadcast from Hartlepool.

David Dimbleby was joined by former Labour Foreign Office Minister Denis MacShane, Conservative Party Vice-Chair Sayeeda Warsi, Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson Sarah Teather, President of ChildLine Esther Rantzen and journalist and broadcaster Polly Toynbee.


Denis Macshane MP

Title: Former Foreign Office Minister

Career: Denis MacShane was a Minister at the Foreign Office during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and became Tony Blair's longest serving Minister for Europe.

A former journalist, he is now a regular contributor in the national media and remains an outspoken supporter of the Prime Minister.

Since leaving the Foreign Office he has written a biography of Edward Heath as well as chairing an all-party commission into anti-semitism.


Sayeeda Warsi

Title: Conservative Party Vice-Chair

Career: Sayeeda Warsi is a British-born Muslim of Pakistani origin.

A former race adviser to Michael Howard, since last December she has had responsibility for taking the party's message to the inner cities in her role as a Vice Chair of the Conservative Party with responsibility for cities.

She stood at the last election in 2005 and is currently on David Cameron's so-called A list of candidates chosen to fight safe or winnable seats.


Sarah Teather MP

Title: Liberal Democrat Education Spokesperson

Career: Sarah was first elected to parliament in 2003 aged 29 at the Brent East by-election which made her the youngest member of the House of Commons.

She trained as a scientist and worked for Macmillan Cancer Care Relief, where she advised on health and social policy.

Following the resignation of Charles Kennedy, Sarah supported Menzies Campbell in his successful leadership election campaign and was promoted to the front bench earlier this year.


Esther Rantzen

Title: President of ChildLine

Career: Esther Rantzen is a campaigner on children's issues and founded ChildLine, the national confidential telephone helpline for children in distress and danger.

Esther presented the BBC's consumer affairs programme That's Life! for 21 years.

She has served on a number of government committees under both Conservative and Labour Prime Ministers. She contributes regularly to The Daily Mail and in 1991 she was awarded the OBE for her services to broadcasting.

She recently appeared on BBC One's Strictly Come Dancing.


Polly Toynbee

Title: Journalist and Broadcaster

Career: Polly Toynbee is a Guardian columnist and was formerly the BBC's Social Affairs Editor.

She has won a National Press Award and has been What the Papers Say columnist of the Year.

According to Wednesday's Guardian, one of David Cameron's advisers has said that the Conservatives should ditch Winston Churchill's attitude to poverty in favour of Polly Toynbee's ideas.

Greg Clark wrote: "Churchill's safety net is at the bottom, holding people at subsistence level... it is Polly Toynbee who supplies imagery that is more appropriate for Conservative social policy in the 21st Century."

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