Question Time


Page last updated at 17:03 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 18:03 UK

This week's panel

Harriet HarmanAlan DuncanLynne FeatherstoneIan HislopSimon Wolfson

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Bournemouth on Thursday 18 September.

The panel included the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party Harriet Harman, Conservative shadow business secretary Alan Duncan, the Liberal Democrat spokesman for youth and equality issues Lynne Featherstone, editor of Private Eye magazine Ian Hislop, and chief executive of the Next fashion chain Simon Wolfson.


Harriet Harman MP

Career: Harriet Harman is the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, as well as being Leader of the House of Commons and Labour Party Chair.

She entered politics with her election to parliament in 1982 and was first appointed to the Labour front bench by Neil Kinnock in 1984.

A close ally of the prime minister, working under Gordon Brown at the Treasury in the years before Labour came to power, she beat five of her colleagues in a close-run deputy leadership race in June 2007.

Last week she was accused by Conservative shadow Commons leader Teresa May of "returning to the class rhetoric of the 1970" when she chose to use her speech at the Trades Union Congress this week to highlight social inequality.

She told union members: "We have made great progress on tackling inequality but we know that inequality doesn't just come from your gender, race, sexual orientation or disability. What overarches all of these is where you live, your family background, your wealth and social class."


Alan Duncan MP

Career: Alan Duncan is Conservative shadow secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform.

He has been an MP since 1992, and has held a number of positions in government and opposition, including shadow health secretary and vice chairman of the party.

He has been an outspoken critic of the government's handling of the economy, accusing Gordon Brown of "wasting one of the most prosperous decades we've ever had. Everything has been spent, nothing has been saved and we are ill-equipped to cope with the pressures of global competition and the difficulties of an economic downturn."

Last week he dismissed the government's announcement on energy costs as "desperate spin from Gordon Brown to try and save his political skin." He said: "People who will really struggle to heat their homes this winter have been waiting for months for this announcement, but now it's become clear that Labour has got nothing to offer."


Lynne Featherstone MP

Career: Lynne Featherstone is the Liberal Democrat Spokesman for Youth and Equality Issues, having previously been the party's International Development spokesman.

She entered politics as a councillor on Haringey Council and served on the London Assembly for five years before being elected as MP for Hornsey and Wood Green in 2005. It was her third attempt at the parliamentary seat, in which she grew up.

She has twice chaired unsuccessful leadership campaigns by Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman Chris Huhne.


Ian Hislop

Career: Ian Hislop has been the editor of Private Eye magazine for over 20 years.

He is also a team captain on Have I Got News For You, a role which has made him a household name.

He has courted controversy both on screen and in print, and the Guardian reported last week that he is the most sued man in the history of the British legal system.

He was a scriptwriter on Spitting Image during the 1980s, and has presented numerous programmes on television and radio, most recently Scouting For Boys on BBC Two.


Simon Wolfson

Career: Simon Wolfson has been the chief executive of the fashion chain Next since 2001.

He had joined the company as a shop assistant a decade earlier and worked his way up through the ranks before becoming the youngest FTSE 100 boss.

A donor to David Cameron's leadership campaign, Wolfson last year co-authored the Conservative Party's report on economic competitiveness, recommending a range of tax cuts and measures to slash red tape.

The son of Lord Wolfson, a former Next chairman and chief of staff to Margaret Thatcher, he recently described the current economic climate as "gloomy" and predicted that UK businesses faced "another tough year".

He opposed the introduction of an EU constitution and was a board member of the "Vote No" campaign.

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