THIS WEEK'S PANEL
CHUKA UMUNNA is the Labour parliamentary candidate for the Streatham constituency in South London. He is an employment lawyer by profession, and is also the founder of TMP, an on-line political magazine for "multicultural progressives". He’s already been talked of as a future Labour leader and called “Britain’s Obama”, a comparison he has said he “wouldn’t be so arrogant to make” himself. Despite his “modernising” credentials, he has built up a following on the Left of his party, becoming a board member of the left-wing pressure group Compass and even arguing that New Labour "at its crudest… was predicated on a cynicism and a pessimism about the British public". He has joined the NUS campaign calling for the abolition of up-front student fees; advocated windfall taxes on energy companies and supported a call for a 45% top rate of income tax for those earning over £175,000 a year. While he describes himself as “Labour through and through”, he has also criticised his party’s failure to communicate its message: "This government has redistributed more money from rich to poor than any government since the war, but would you believe it? No, because we've been shy of saying so and shy of saying why the hell we're doing it."
TIM MONTGOMERIE is editor of the Tory website ConservativeHome.com, which he co-founded in 2005 with the aim of championing grassroots party members. He is also the editor of AmericaInTheWorld.com, which is the website of the London Centre for the Study of Anti-Americanism. This week Tim wrote that “Compassionate Conservatism is the biggest idea in British politics” and described the Tories’ social justice policy as “rooted in a belief that three things will keep people out of poverty: 1, A strong family; 2, A good education; and 3, A job.” Tim is an economist by training and began his career at the Bank of England, where his responsibilities included the Russian economy and the study of systemic risk in financial systems. In 1990 he founded the Conservative Christian Fellowship, which exists “to be a vibrant Christian witness within the Conservative Party” and in 1999 joined Conservative Central Office running outreach projects to faith communities and the voluntary sector. He became Iain Duncan Smith's chief of staff for the last few months of his leadership and subsequently set up the Centre for Social Justice.
CLAIRE FOX is the Director of the Institute of Ideas, which she established to create a public space “where ideas can be contested without constraint”. She set up the think tank while she was the co-publisher of the current affairs journal LM magazine (formerly Living Marxism). She has a particular interest in education and social issues such as crime and social exclusion. In the past she has criticised developments which impinge on civil liberties, such as the use of anti-social behaviour orders. She is a supporter of the arts, and strongly believes that they should be valued for their own sake. She is also a contributor to BBC Radio 4's The Moral Maze and is a commentator on developments in culture, education and the media on TV and radio. She also writes regularly for national newspapers and specialist journals. Claire previously worked as a mental health social worker and as a lecturer in English literature.
A.N. WILSON is an award-winning writer and columnist for the Daily Mail. After studying at Oxford, he initially trained for the priesthood but gave up to concentrate on writing. He joined The Spectator in 1981 as its literary editor, where he was hailed as a ‘young fogey’ and had the same role at the London Evening Standard, where he was also a columnist until 2007. His biography of Leo Tolstoy won the Whitbread award in 1998 and he has also written about the lives of Sir Walter Scott, John Milton, Hilaire Belloc, C.S. Lewis, Jesus Christ, and the Apostle Paul. His biography of the poet John Betjeman, Betjeman: A Life, was published in 2006. As well as biographies, he has also written the best-selling encyclopaedic survey of the nineteenth century, After the Victorians: the World Our Parents Knew and numerous novels, the latest of which is Winnie and Wolf which was long-listed for the 2007 Man Booker Prize.
Any Questions? Transcripts
Click on the link below to read the transcript of the edition of Any Questions? broadcast from Cardiff University on Friday 13th November 2009.Any Questions? transcript for 13 Nobember 2009
Any Questions is the topical discussion programme chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby in which a panel of…