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Page last updated at 09:19 GMT, Thursday, 27 September 2007 10:19 UK

This week's panel

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Poole on 27 September.

David Dimbleby was joined by the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills John Denham, the Conservative shadow arts minister Ed Vaizey, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Nick Clegg, the historian and author Simon Schama and the Daily Mail columnist Amanda Platell.

JOHN DENHAM MP

John Denham MP

Career: John Denham joined the cabinet as the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills when Gordon Brown became Prime Minister in July.

He was a local councillor for more than 10 years before entering parliament as the MP for Southampton Itchen in 1992. He was promoted to the front bench in 1995 as a spokesman on social security.

He controversially resigned from his position as a Home Office minister in 2003, saying he would not vote with the government in support of the Iraq war.


ED VAIZEY MP

Ed Vaizey MP

Career: Ed Vaizey is the Conservative shadow arts minister, and at 39 is one of the youngest members of David Cameron's inner circle.

After leaving university, he worked as an advisor for both Ken Clarke and Michael Howard, later becoming a speech-writer for Howard as party leader. He acted as an election aid to Iain Duncan Smith during the 2001 election, and was elected to parliament himself in 2005.

He has been a regular contributor to a number of newspapers, including The Guardian and The Sunday Times, and has also appeared as a panellist on Five's The Wright Stuff and BBC Radio 4.

He is regarded as a member of the group of young Conservatives often referred to as the "Notting Hill set" along with David Cameron and shadow chancellor George Osborne.


NICK CLEGG MP

Nick Clegg MP

Career: Nick Clegg is Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman. Having begun a career in journalism, he entered politics via Brussels, becoming the East Midlands MEP in 1999.

At the 2005 election Clegg was elected Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam, and promoted to shadow spokesman on foreign affairs in 2005.

In recent weeks he has been tipped as a potential successor for the Liberal Democrat leadership, with reports suggesting that he and other rising stars, such as Chris Huhne, are jockeying for the post.

Though he has denied that he is planning to challenge Sir Menzies Campbell in the near future, he said last week: "If you are asking me, would I throw my hat in the ring if there was vacancy in the future, I probably would."


SIMON SCHAMA CBE

Simon Schama

Career: Simon Schama is a well-known historian, whose BBC series A History of Britain made him a household name.

He is professor of history and art history at Columbia University, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke earlier this week.

He is the author of a number of works on history and art including the historical novel Dead Certainties and a history of the French Revolution called Citizens, and has been an art critic for the New Yorker magazine.

He has won numerous awards, including a Viewer Award for Best Television Series and two Broadcasting Press Guild awards. He was made a CBE in 2001.


AMANDA PLATELL

Amanda Platell

Career: Amanda Platell is a Daily Mail columnist and former press secretary to William Hague.

She was a key figure in the Conservative's 2001 election campaign, and sparked controversy after their defeat, when she released a video diary she had secretly filmed whilst on the campaign trail.

Before working for the Conservative Party, she was a journalist at The Mirror, where she was once Alistair Campbell's boss, and went on to edit the Sunday Express.

Since leaving politics, she has enjoyed a career in television, most famously co-hosting the chat show Morgan and Platell with Piers Morgan.



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