Question Time


Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Wednesday, 28 May 2008 18:26 UK

This week's panel

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Lincoln on Thursday 29 May.

The panel included the government's chief whip Geoff Hoon, the shadow secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles, the Green Party member of the European parliament for the South East of England Caroline Lucas, the historian and broadcaster Dan Snow and the director of Global Vision Ruth Lea.


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 the House of Commons.

A former Secretary of State for Defence, his controversial six year tenure oversaw British military action in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In May last year he told the Guardian that in the build up to the Iraq invasion: "We didn't plan for the right sort of aftermath".

In the past week, he has been forced to deny speculation from the press that a group of Labour MPs have been preparing to call for Gordon Brown's removal, insisting that he "did not recognise" reports that he told a conference call of cabinet ministers that: "We have to look at addressing the issues around the leadership".


Eric Pickles MP

Career: Eric Pickles is the shadow secretary of state for communities and local government, having previously been deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

He recently managed the successful Conservative campaign for the Crewe and Nantwich by-election.

He entered politics in the 1980s, leading the Conservative group on Bradford Council.

A close supporter of David Cameron, the Daily Mail wrote of him: "If you ever start to worry that Dave's Conservatives are all soft-cheeked, trendy toffs, take a moment to admire the girth, the stout cloth, dammit, even the tie-clip of this briny, plain-speaking, subtle, human politician."

After the Conservative victory over Labour in the Crewe by-election last week, he claimed that the Tories are now the preferred party of working people, saying that during Labour's campaign, which was criticised by many as attempting to play on class tensions: "People felt they were having their strings pulled. There was unhappiness about the Labour assumptions about the white working class, that if you press the buttons they will respond."


Caroline Lucas MEP

Career: Dr Caroline Lucas has been the Green Party member of the European Parliament for the South East of England region since 1999, and is the party's principle female speaker.

She began her career in the anti-nuclear movement and joined the Green Party in 1986, going on to win the party's second UK County Council seat in Oxfordshire in 1993.

Outside of parliament, she holds a number of posts, including vice president of both the RSPCA and of the Stop the War Coalition.

As well as being a well-known commentator on environmental issues, she has also written extensively on trade and globalisation and has been a policy adviser on trade and investment for the UK government's Department for International Development.

She was named in the Top 10 of the "New Statesman Magazine Person of the Year Award 2006", and was voted "Politician of the Year" in the Observer Ethical Awards 2007. Earlier this year she was named as one of the Guardian's "Top 50 eco heroes" .


Dan Snow

Career: Dan Snow is a historian and broadcaster. He presents the regular History Hunter slot on BBC One's The One Show.

He is the son of the broadcaster Peter Snow, though he says his father never persuaded him into television, saying he would have preferred him "to get a proper job".

He is best known for his military history series, Battlefield Britain and 20th Century Battles and has presented BBC specials on the anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar and the end of World War Two.

Last October, he was named as an up and coming face on the Evening Standard List of Top 1000 most influential Londoners.


Ruth Lea

Career: Ruth Lea is director of Global Vision, a Eurosceptic campaign group. She was the director of the right-wing think-tank Centre for Policy Studies until 1997.

After 16 years in the civil service, working in the Treasury and the Department of Trade and Industry, she moved to the City where she was chief economist at Mitsubishi Bank and chief UK economist at Lehman Brothers.

She then became economics editor of ITN, before spending eight years as head of the policy unit at the Institute of Directors, during which she became a well-known commentator on business affairs and economics.

Earlier this month she commented on the Bank of England governor's opinion that the "nice decade" in the UK economy is over, saying: "After a decade in which prices almost tripled, the market looks significantly overvalued... the outlook is clearly worsening."

She warned an "inevitable" slowdown in GDP could "contribute to higher unemployment - thus raising the possibility of an outright recession in the economy."

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