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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 January, 2005, 14:22 GMT
This week's panel
Question Time, the BBC's premier political programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Croydon on 27 January.

He was joined for the interactive debate by London Mayor Ken Livingstone, Ken Clarke MP, Baroness Walmsley, writer John Rentoul and journalist Trevor Kavanagh.

Ken Livingstone


Title: Mayor of London

Career: Ken Livingstone has proposed that London's congestion charge be increased from five to eight pounds.

He became mayor in May 2000, when he stood as an independent against the Labour candidate and was expelled from the party. He has since focussed on improving transport in the capital.

He became known as "Red Ken" while leader of the Greater London Council in the 1980s, and later became a Labour MP. In 2004 he rejoined the party and was re-elected under the Labour banner.

Ken Clarke MP


Title: Conservative MP

Career: Ken Clarke twice came close to leading the Conservatives in recent leadership contests, but has been a backbencher since 1997.

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He served in the cabinet throughout the party's 18 years in power, as health secretary, education secretary, home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer.

One of the old-school Tory heavyweights, he is a strong debater and performer. He is an enthusiastic supporter of the European Union and single currency and opposed the war in Iraq.

Baroness Walmsley


Title: Liberal Democrat Education spokesman

Career: In 2003 Joan Walmsley marked her 60th birthday by sky-diving 13,000 feet in aid of the charity Breast Cancer Care.

The education spokesman in the Lords, she also serves on the House of Lords select committee on science and technology and has been deputy home affairs spokesman in the Lords.

She has been politically active since 1986, and serves on the party's Federal Executive, North West Regional Executive and chairs the Policy Working Group on Crime and Policing.

John Rentoul


Title: Blair's biographer

Career: John Rentoul's biography Tony Blair: Prime Minister was serialised in the Independent newspaper in 2001.

The book outlines the prime minister's motivations and early years, including his time at school, Fettes College in Edinburgh, where he apparently was beaten for bad behaviour.

But the book says that, despite his rebellious streak, "he - mostly - stopped short at the stage where his defiance would inflict serious damage to either his person or his academic career."

Trevor Kavanagh


Title: Sun Political Editor

Career: Regarded as one of Britain's most influential journalists, Trevor Kavanagh has been political editor of the Sun since 1983.

Having previously supported the Conservatives, the Sun famously switched allegiance to Tony Blair's revamped party in 1997.

One of Kavanagh's greatest scoops was in January 2004, when he published details of the Hutton Inquiry the night before it was officially released.

BBC One's Question Time is broadcast on Thursdays at 2235 GMT.


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