Page last updated at 10:44 GMT, Thursday, 14 January 2010

This week's panel

Question Time, the BBC's premier political debate programme will be broadcast from Finchley on Thursday 14 January.

The panel will include the senior Labour politician Peter Hain, the Conservative shadow secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform Ken Clarke MP, the Liberal Democrat spokesman on home affairs Chris Huhne, the comedian and writer Shappi Khorsandi and the columnist and former newspaper editor Kelvin MacKenzie.


PETER HAIN MP

Peter Hain MP

Peter Hain is a senior Labour politician, who has held a number of cabinet posts, including Secretary of State for Wales, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Work and Pensions Secretary.

He was born in Kenya and grew up in South Africa, and was famous for his involvement in the anti-apartheid movement.

In 2008, he was forced to stand down from the cabinet after an investigation was launched into donations to his deputy leadership campaign. After what he described as a "a soul-searching experience", the investigation was dropped with no charges.

He was in Tony Blair's cabinet when the decision was taken to invade Iraq. The controversy surrounding the build up to war has been under scrutiny this week with former Downing Street director of communications, Alistair Campbell, giving evidence to the Chilcot enquiry.


KENNETH CLARKE QC MP

Ken Clarke MP

Ken Clarke is a former home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer, and returned to frontline politics in January, when he became the Conservative shadow secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform.

He is one of Britain's longest-serving MPs, having been first elected as Conservative MP for Rushcliffe in 1970. He remains one of the party's most senior figures, despite three unsuccessful attempts at the leadership, most recently losing to David Cameron.

He is a barrister by profession, and was made a QC in 1980.

Last week he made headlines when he said it would be "folly" for a future Conservative government to rule out tax rises. He went on: "It is something that every Conservative tries to avoid, but I didn't avoid it when I was getting us out of recession before. Coming out of a recession when you have such a severe deficit, you can't rule out putting up taxes."


CHRIS HUHNE MP

Chris Huhne MP

Chris Huhne is the Liberal Democrat spokesman on home affairs. He was formerly the party's environment and rural affairs spokesman.

He was the runner up in last year's Lib Dem leadership contest, losing to Nick Clegg by just 511 votes. He had previously run for the party leadership in 2006, coming second behind Sir Menzies Campbell.

Before entering politics he worked in the City and has written a number of books on economic and development issues. After five years as the MEP for South East England, he was elected as the MP for Eastleigh in 2005 and served as a shadow treasury spokesman under Charles Kennedy.


SHAPPI KHORSANDI

Shappi Khorsandi

Shappi Khorsandi is an Iranian-born comic and writer.

As well as having an accomplished stand-up comedy career, she is a regular performer on television and radio shows, such as Just a Minute, Live at the Apollo and Have I Got News For You.

She has also contributed to a number of newspapers and magazines, including The Times and The Guardian, and has written a book called The Beginner's Guide to Acting English.

She moved to the UK as a child, when her satirist father came to the attention of the Shah's regime, and later was declared an "enemy of Islam" by the revolutionary government.

She wrote of this period: "On the TV I could see my home engulfed in smoke and people beating their breasts. We were all relieved when my father made it back to England, but the death threats moved to England too. I'd pick up the phone and hear: "I will kill you, I will kill your father, and I will kill everyone."


KELVIN MacKENZIE

Kelvin MacKenzie

Kelvin MacKenzie is an outspoken columnist and one of the UK's best known 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. In June 2008, he announced that he would stand against David Davis in the by-election for Haltemprice and Howden. The former Conservative shadow Home Secretary had stepped down for re-election as a protest against 42 days detention without trial, something which Kelvin Mackenzie was an outspoken supporter of. He later decided not to stand.



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