Question Time


Page last updated at 12:44 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 13:44 UK

Last week's panel

Iain Gray MSPNadine Dorries MPNicola Sturgeon MSPLord Steel Bruce Anderson

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, will be in Dunfermline on Thursday 7 May.

The panel will include the Labour leader in the Scottish Parliament Iain Gray, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries, Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Steel, and Independent columnist Bruce Anderson.


Iain Gray MSP

Career: Iain Gray is Labour's leader in the Scottish Parliament.

He was a maths and physics teacher, then worked for Oxfam for 12 years, before his election to the Scottish Parliament as the MSP for Edinburgh Pentlands in 1999. He served as minister for social justice, and then minister for enterprise and lifelong learning, before losing his seat in the 2003 election.

He worked as a special adviser to the then Scotland Secretary Alistair Darling, and was re-elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2007, this time representing the seat of East Lothian.

He was elected to the leadership of Labour's group in the Scottish Parliament in September 2008, after the resignation of Wendy Alexander.

This week he dismissed claims by SNP First Minister Alex Salmond that Scotland is closer than ever to independence, saying: "The global recession demonstrates that devolution works…. Separate from the rest of the UK, our banks and building societies would have vanished, losing all the jobs, mortgages and savings."


Nadine Dorries MP

Career : Nadine Dorries is the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire.

She grew up in Liverpool, and worked as a nurse before entering politics. She unsuccessfully contested the constituency of Hazel Grove in 2001 before becoming MP for Mid Bedfordshire in 2005.

She is regarded as being on the right wing of her party, and is a high-profile campaigner against abortion. Last year she tabled an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, seeking to reduce the time limit on abortions to 20 weeks, which was defeated by MPs.

In November 2008, she won the inaugural Spectator Magazine's Readers' Representative Award in the Parliamentarian of the Year Awards, for which she was nominated by the public.

Last month it was reported that she was taking legal action over smears made against her in leaked emails sent by Gordon Brown's special adviser, Damian McBride. She made headlines when she raised the matter at the Prime Minister's Questions, demanding a personal apology from Gordon Brown, who replied: "I have said sorry this has happened and I have also written to you personally. I think at the same time we should also say that what happened has no part to play in the politics of this country."


Nicola Sturgeon MSP

Career: Nicola Sturgeon is the Deputy First Minister of Scotland, the deputy leader of the Scottish National Party and the Cabinet Secretary for health and well-being in the Scottish Executive.

She joined the SNP in 1986 as a youth activist, and stood for election unsuccessfully in 1992 as the youngest parliamentary candidate in Scotland, and again in 1997. She became an MSP in the first Scottish Parliament elections in 1999. When the SNP gained control of the devolved Scottish government in 2007, First Minister Alex Salmond made her his deputy.

Last November she was named Politician of the Year by Scotland's Herald newspaper.

Last week she headed up the Scottish government's response to swine flu, after the first UK cases were confirmed in a Scottish couple who had returned from their honeymoon in Mexico. She has urged the public to stay calm, saying: "I would like to reassure people that we are not in a pandemic situation and the level of threat to public health remains low."


Lord Steel

Career: David Steel was the leader of the Liberal Party from 1976 to 1988, and the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament from 1999 to 2003.

He became involved in Liberal politics as a student at Edinburgh University, but worked as a journalist at BBC Scotland before being elected as the youngest MP in the House of Commons in 1965.

As an MP he was best known for introducing the Abortion Act in 1967, and became leader of the Liberal Party in 1976, at the age of 38. He oversaw the creation of the SDP-Liberal Alliance in 1981. After years of difficult relations between Steel and SDP leader David Owen in the run up to the 1987 election, the parties merged into a single party, the Liberal Democrats, in 1988.

He retired from the House of Commons at the 1997 general election, and was made a life peer as Baron Steel of Aikwood. He campaigned for Scottish devolution and in 1999 was elected to the Scottish Parliament as MSP for Lothians. He was the first Presiding Officer when the Parliament was created in May 1999.


Bruce Anderson

Career : Bruce Anderson is one the UK's leading right-wing commentators, and writes a controversial column for the Independent. He has written a number of books, including biographies of John Major and David Cameron, whom he backed from early on in the last Conservative leadership contest.

He has been an outspoken critic of the Labour government, of whom he says: "If they could by some miracle win [the next election], the Brownites would not mind how much damage they inflicted to the country's well-being and to standards in public life. If they were to lose, they would not care about the scorched earth that they would leave behind them."

Following Labour's announcement of a 50p tax rate for those earning over £150,000, he urged David Cameron to "refight some of the intellectual battles which Mrs Thatcher seemed to have won". Arguing that the Conservative leader should "defy the polls on the question of a low-tax economy", he wrote: "In these troubled times, a politician brave enough to tell the voters that their first instincts were wrong could earn their respect for displaying leadership. That quality is now necessary, as rarely before in peacetime. Mr Cameron must spend the next year proving that he possesses it. It is not enough to win by default. "

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