BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News

Question Time



Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 September 2007, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
This week's panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Brighton on 20 September.

David Dimbleby was joined by government Chief Whip Geoff Hoon MP, senior Conservative politician John Redwood MP, former leader of the Liberal Democrats Lord Ashdown, editor at large of the Independent on Sunday Janet Street Porter and the chief international correspondent for CNN Christiane Amanpour.


Geoff Hoon MP

Career: Geoff Hoon was returned to the Cabinet as the government's chief whip when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in June 2007, and has been the MP for Ashfield in Nottinghamshire since 1992.

He was an MEP for 10 years before entering parliament.

A former secretary of state for defence, his controversial six year tenure oversaw British military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In May he told The Guardian that in the build up to the Iraq invasion, "we didn't plan for the right sort of aftermath".

He went on: "No one's interested in subtleties of judgment or what was the case at the time. I think, especially when British soldiers are being killed, that the public have got to be pretty confident as to why. I think they're not any longer confident, and want us out of Iraq."


John Redwood MP

Career: John Redwood is a senior Conservative politician, who served as the secretary of state for Wales in John Major's cabinet.

He is currently co-chairman of the Conservative Party's Policy Review Group on Economic Competitiveness and in August this year launched a report that included a package of measures to cut red tape.

A key eurosceptic within the party, he stood for the Conservative leadership in 1995 and 1997. He is the author of a number of books, including The Death of Britain? and Just Say No: 100 Arguments Against The Euro.

He made news last week with an article on his blog about the investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, in which he wrote:

"Maybe the McCanns should employ a private detective rather than a spin doctor, to find evidence of the abduction they are sure happened and the trail to her present whereabouts."

He later said: "I was trying to be helpful. Given that the police inquiry in Portugal seems to be based on something other than abduction, it would be helpful to the McCanns to prove it was abduction."

Mr Redwood has also weighed in on the recent turbulence in the financial sector: "The UK banking system did not need a "bail out" and should not have needed the extraordinary taxpayer guarantee on all deposits. What it needed was a UK monetary authority that realised money market conditions were too severe, and cash in too short supply."


Lord Ashdown

Career: Paddy Ashdown was leader of the Liberal Democrats from the creation of the party in 1988 to 1999, leading the party in 1997 to the most successful Liberal election performance since the 1920s.

After retiring from British politics, he was made a life peer in 2001 and became the UN High Representative to Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2002.

Last month, Lord Ashdown confirmed reports that he had turned down the offer of a cabinet post from Gordon Brown, saying that he would not have accepted without the full support of party leader Sir Menzies Campbell.

He later said: "You do not build partnership government by seeking to add the Liberal Democrats as a bungalow annexe to a Labour government."


Janet Street Porter

Career: Janet Street Porter is the editor at large of the Independent on Sunday, having been the paper's editor between 1999 and 2002.

She began her Fleet Street career at the age of 21, and has subsequently established herself as a journalist, a BAFTA award-winning TV producer and broadcaster.

Famous for her outspoken views, she describes herself as a "shame-free zone". She has appeared as a contestant in a number of reality TV shows, including So You Think You Can Teach and I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, and is vice president of the Ramblers Association.


Christiane Amanpour

Career: Christiane Amanpour is the chief international correspondent for CNN.

Her first international posting was to Germany during the end of the Cold War, but her reports from conflict zones such as the Gulf and Bosnia brought her international acclaim.

Her emotional dispatches from the siege of Sarajevo led her to say: "There are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral you are an accomplice."

Yasser Arafat famously put the phone down on her during an interview from his besieged compound, and she was the only Western journalist to secure a post-election interview with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad.

Christiane Amanpour is married to James Rubin, who served as Bill Clinton's chief spokesman for the State Department. Last month Forbes Magazine named her one of the world's 100 most powerful women.

Join the debate
08 Mar 07 |  Question Time

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

banner watch listen bbc sport Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific