Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 14:08 UK

This week's panel

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme chaired by David Dimbleby, was in Newquay on Thursday 25 June.

The panel included Employment Minister Jim Knight, Conservative shadow security minister Dame Pauline Neville-Jones, Liberal Democrat local government spokesman Julia Goldsworthy, Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Member Leanne Wood, and columnist and commentator Kelvin MacKenzie.

JIM KNIGHT MP

Jim Knight MP

Career: Jim Knight is the Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform. He was previously minister for schools and learners in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, and was promoted to a role in which he attends cabinet in Gordon Brown's recent reshuffle.

He first stood for Parliament in 1997, and was successfully elected MP for Dorset South in 2001. He served as minister for rural affairs, landscape and biodiversity in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs before becoming schools minister in 2006.

Earlier this month he said of his parliamentary expenses, which included an oven glove: "I am confident that what I have claimed has been reasonable to enable me to be in Westminster to do my job."

He has been a vocal supporter of Prime Minister Gordon Brown in recent weeks, saying that he is "still a figure of great authority that commands the support of the vast majority of our party". He dismissed rumours of a potential leadership coup, saying: "That's not what we should as a party be thinking about at the moment and the country would not thank us for it. We've been elected to govern and we desperately need strong government."


DAME PAULINE NEVILLE-JONES

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.

Last week she announced that a future Conservative government would "roll back the advance of Big Brother" by substantially curtailing the surveillance powers of the state. She went on to say that the Conservatives believed "the individual is the rightful owner of personal information and the state is merely possessor and should behave as a responsible custodian."


JULIA GOLDSWORTHY MP

Julia Goldsworthy MP

Career: Julia Goldsworthy is the Liberal Democrat spokesman on communities and local government. She also speaks for the party on housing.

She began her political career after university, working as a researcher for Lib Dem MP Matthew Taylor. Winning the seat of Falmouth and Camborne in the 2005 election, she became the youngest MP in the House of Commons, and was appointed a party spokesperson on health in the same year. She remains the youngest member of the Liberal Democrat front bench.

Last month she said she was "gobsmacked" by the resignation of her opposite number in the Commons, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears. She added: "Gordon Brown's premiership has been fundamentally undermined. We are left with a government that's drifting out of control."

In May she was forced to publicly defend her expenses claims, after the Telegraph revealed that she had part-claimed for a number of expensive items of furniture in the days before the deadline for claims. She told the newspaper: "I claimed only reasonable costs for furnishings. There are a number of items - such as the [rocking] chair - where I did not claim the full cost. There were other items I did not claim at all."


LEANNE WOOD AM

Leanne Wood AM

Career: Leanne Wood is the Plaid Cymru Welsh Assembly Member for South Wales Central and the party's spokesman on sustainability.

She was a lecturer at Cardiff University before being elected to the Assembly in 2003, and has previously worked as a probation officer and a support worker for Women's Aid.

A socialist and republican, in December 2004 she was the first Assembly Member to be ordered out of the chamber for referring to the Queen as "Mrs Windsor" during a debate. She later said: "I don't recognise the Queen. I called her that because that's her name."


KELVIN MacKENZIE

Kelvin McKenzie

Career: Kelvin MacKenzie is an outspoken columnist and one of the UK's best known right-wing commentators. He was the editor of the Sun from 1981 to 1993, during which time it established itself as Britain's best selling tabloid.

His tenure as editor was not short of controversy and he was responsible for the paper's famous "Gotcha!" headline in response to the sinking of the Argentinian battleship Belgrano, as well as its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster, which caused widespread outrage.

He returned to the Sun in 2006 as a columnist and recently used his column to urge readers to vote in this month's European elections for one of the minority parties "as a V sign to the smug club that loves our money but hates our views."

He wrote: "This is your day… the day that you give the lying, deceitful, cowardly, cunning, criminal weasels who run our nation a bloody nose they will never forget. It is enormously important that the politicians from all three parties feel the full force of your anger. And the only way is through the ballot box."



Print Sponsor



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific