Question Time


Page last updated at 13:22 GMT, Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Last week's panel

Jack Straw MPDame Pauline Neville-JonesNigel Farage MEPBrian EnoBonnie Greer

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in London on Thursday 6 November.

The panel included the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Jack Straw, Conservative shadow security minister Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, the leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage, music producer and musician Brian Eno, and playwright and critic Bonnie Greer.


Jack Straw MP

Career: Jack Straw has been Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice since June 2007.

He was active in student politics, and was president of the National Union of Students, before pursuing a career in law. He was elected MP for Blackburn in 1979.

He was one of the key members of Tony Blair's cabinet in 1997, and has since held a number of high-profile posts, including Leader of the House of Commons and Home Secretary.

He was Foreign Secretary from 2001 to 2006, a period which saw the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, and the subsequent 'war on terror', with the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Last week, he publicly called for action to be taken against BBC presenters Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross, writing in an article: "If the presenters concerned had been working for a local radio station... they'd have been given their P45. And it's difficult not to feel that that's exactly what should happen to these two so-called 'stars'. The BBC has clear standards of decency. This broadcast has to be in clear breach of them."


Dame Pauline Neville-Jones

Career: Pauline Neville-Jones is the Conservative shadow security minister and David Cameron's adviser on national security. She was formerly the first woman to chair the Joint Intelligence Committee.

She served in the UK Diplomatic Service for over 30 years, working in a number of places, including Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Washington.

She was a governor of the BBC from 1998 to 2004 and was famously involved in the resignation of director general Greg Dyke following the publication of the Hutton Report.

In January 2006, she was appointed by David Cameron to head the Conservative Party's National and International Security Policy Group, and in July 2007 she became shadow security minister.

Referring to recent lapses in government security, she said: "a clean-up job needs to be done... For too long the government has been treating the information about us in its possession as its own, rather then remembering it still belongs to us."


Nigel Farage MEP

Career: Nigel Farage is the leader of the UK Independence Party.

Having joined the Conservative Party as a schoolboy, he left in 1992 in protest over John Major's signing of the Maastricht Treaty and went on to found UKIP in 1993.

In 1999, and again in 2004, he was elected to the European Parliament and currently leads UKIP's 10 MEPs, as well as being co-leader of the multi-national Eurosceptic group Independence and Democracy.

Last month, he rejected the appointment of Baroness Ashton as EU Trade Commissioner when the previous commissioner, Peter Mandelson, returned to the cabinet.

He told Baroness Ashton when she spoke for the first time in front of MEPs: "Now is not the time for a novice. We need a big hitter. Looking at your CV, you have no relevant experience to take on this dossier at a difficult time."


Brian Eno

Career: Brian Eno is a music producer and musician.

He rose to fame in the 1970s group Roxy Music, and has since collaborated with many high-profile artists, including David Bowie, U2, Paul Simon and Coldplay. He is widely regarded as the father of ambient music.

He has also been active in other areas of the arts, producing videos and visual art for exhibitions, and applications for technology with companies such as Microsoft and Apple, as well as writing a column for the Observer.

He is a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, and has addressed crowds at rallies in Hyde Park and Trafalgar Square.

He lived in the US in the late 1970s, and has written: "Europeans have always looked at America with a mixture of fascination and puzzlement and now, increasingly, disbelief. How is it that a country that prides itself on its economic success could have so many very poor people? How is it that a country so insistent on the rule of law should seek to exempt itself from international agreements? For me, the question has become: 'How can a country that has produced so much cultural and economic wealth act so dumb?'"


Bonnie Greer

Career: Bonnie Greer is a playwright, critic and cultural commentator. She was born in Chicago and has lived in the UK for 20 years.

Many of her plays have been dramatised on BBC Radio. She has been an Arts Council-supported playwright-in-residence for Soho Theatre and served on the boards of the Royal Opera House and London Film School.

She has also spent time teaching Shakespeare in Lambeth and Brent schools.

She has appeared regularly as a critic on Newsnight Review and writes for a number of newspapers and magazines, including the New Statesman, the Guardian and the Mail on Sunday.

She was initially unconvinced by Barack Obama's campaign, writing in January during the primaries: "The truth is that I can't warm to Obama… Maybe I distrust someone who allows others to compare him to JFK or even Martin Luther King."

Last week, however, she wrote that "despite these worries, and despite the possibility that Obama may not win on 4 November, something awesome and beautiful has still occurred. Through the candidacy of Barack Obama, the United States has demonstrated to the world the greatness of its robust democracy, and its endless possibility of renewal - and of transcendence."

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