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Last Updated: Monday, 7 February 2005, 08:37 GMT
Profile: Robert Kilroy-Silk MEP
Robert Kilroy-silk chose TV over a career in politics
After 17 years of debating with the public on his morning chat show, you could argue that Robert Kilroy-Silk never really left politics.

His election as an MEP in the East Midlands took the silver-haired 61-year-old back to the career he left to become a household name.

Born in Birmingham, Mr Kilroy-Silk was educated at the London School of Economics.

He worked as a university lecturer before becoming a Labour MP.

He represented Ormskirk in Lancashire from 1974 and was involved a long-running dispute with supporters of the hard left Militant Tendency.

He later switched seats opting for the safe Labour constituency of Knowsley North following the 1983 boundary review, serving on Labour's frontbench as a home affairs spokesman.

Three years later he quit to host the BBC's Kilroy show.

Arab comments

Mr Kilroy-Silk insisted he had no regrets about abandoning the serious work of Westminster politics.

He once said the BBC expected him to do Newsnight or Question Time, but that he found Kilroy "more interesting and it paid more".

It was a career that saw him brush with controversy on more than one occasion, most famously in his Sunday Express column describing Arabs as "suicide bombers, limb-amputators, women repressors".

I don't do humble
Robert Kilroy-Silk

While he insisted he had a right to express his views and claimed to have widespread public support, the comments saw his show axed and him leave the BBC.

The row was not the first time the TV host had been accused of racism or xenophobia.

He had attracted criticism for comments about asylum seekers and Irish people.

'Victim entertainment'

The presenter's show also fell foul of TV watchdogs - in 1998 it was rapped by the British Standards Commission for a scene in which a guest exposed himself on live TV.

The BBC said the programme team had been "taken by surprise" by the incident, which prompted five complaints from viewers.

Nevertheless the corporation apologised to the BSC over the incident.

In another run-in with the BSC, Mr Kilroy-Silk said the BSC's 2m budget would be better spent on the NHS.

This time, he was responding to criticism of the Kilroy show, which the BSC had branded "victim entertainment".

The presenter, who hosted the show for 17 years, said the organisation's budget could be spent on "630 hip operations or 345 heart bypass operations".

He denounced the BSC's attitude as "patronising" to his guests.

Further ambitions

Married with two children, Mr Kilroy-Silk's return to the political fray again shows he has no desire for a quiet life. He even declared: "I don't do humble."

He said more or less from the outset that he would consider taking over the UKIP leadership.

For months he walked a tightrope - believing he was the party's greatest asset he openly campaigned to oust Roger Knapman while warning that UKIP would "self-destruct" if it expelled him.

In the end he quit before he was pushed and then a few days later founded his own party called Veritas, which is Latin for truth. He announced he was to fight the Derbyshire seat of Erewash in the General Election expected in 2005.


SEE ALSO
Kilroy-Silk set to quit the UKIP
20 Jan 05 |  UK Politics
UKIP branches 'reject Kilroy bid'
20 Oct 04 |  UK Politics

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