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12/03/2010

Duration:
50 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 12 March 2010

Jonathan Dimbleby chairs the topical debate from Oxford. The panel includes secretary of state for transport Lord Adonis, Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe, Liberal Democrats' spokesman for children, schools and families David Laws and John Micklethwait, editor-in-chief of The Economist.

  • THIS WEEK'S PANEL

    JOHN MICKLETHWAIT was appointed Editor-in-Chief of The Economist in 2006 and said this week that globalisation had "been one of the great things of our lifetime". He returned to the UK to take on the top job at The Economist having spent seven years as editor of the US section of the international magazine. He also ran its New York Bureau, and edited its Business Section. A winner of the Wincott Award, Britain’s leading prize for financial journalism, he has covered business and politics from the United States, Latin America, Continental Europe, Southern Africa and most of Asia. He is a frequent broadcaster and has appeared on a range of networks including CNN and ABC News, as well as the BBC. He is the co-author of a number of publications including A Future Perfect: The Challenge and Hidden Promise of Globalization and, last year, God Is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith Is Changing the World. He was educated at Ampleforth and worked at Chase Manhatten bank before becoming a journalist.

    ANN WIDDECOMBE is standing down at the next election, having been MP for Maidstone and the Weald since 1987. This week, she used her Express column to complain about wheelie bin microchips: "We have become a nation of shruggers, content to let the State be as intrusive as it likes. It spies and stores information and suppresses free speech and decrees which risks we may or may not take and we let it." Last month, she presented a Channel 4 programme on the Bible and lamented, "We have departed from the law of Moses." Since participating in the TV programme Celebrity Fit Club, she has made regular TV appearances. It was as prisons' minister in the last Conservative government that she famously fell out with her then boss, the home secretary Michael Howard, later describing him as having "something of the night" about him. In opposition, she served as Shadow Home Secretary from 1999-2001. She published her first novel, The Clematis Tree, in 2000. Several more followed, and she is currently writing her fifth novel.

    LORD ADONIS was made Secretary of State for Transport last June. Yesterday, he was due to announce plans for a new high speed rail link from London to Birmingham, running through the Chilterns. Last year he embarked on a six-day rail voyage around the country, armed with his laptop and a standard class Rover ticket. He has described himself as a "radical social democrat... I am not a Conservative. I do not believe slashing public spending... is how we get a more equitable society". Andrew Adonis was created a life peer in 2005, and immediately appointed as a government minister. He was previously an adviser to Tony Blair and head of the Downing Street policy unit. He studied Modern History at Oxford and was vice-president of the Oxford Union. A former Nuffield Fellow, he worked as a journalist on the Financial Times and the Observer, where he frequently wrote about the class system and the need for better public services. He cut his political teeth with the SDP, joining the Labour party in 1995.

    DAVID LAWS MP speaks for the Liberal Democrats on Schools, Children and Families. This week he attacked Labour’s education record: "Labour has had 13 years to get a grip on education, but thousands of children still attend schools that are not considered to be providing good standards." He was once offered a place in the shadow cabinet by George Osborne on behalf of the party leader, but turned it down adding later: "I am not a Tory, and if I merely wanted a fast track to a top job, I would have acted on this instinct a long time ago." Seen as one of his party’s modernisers, he was one of the co-editors of the ‘Orange Book’, a series of essays advocating pro-market policies. He gained a double first in economics from Cambridge and became an investment banker before joining the Lib Dems as the party’s economic adviser in 1994 and winning Paddy Ashdown’s Yeovil seat in 2001. When he was asked whether he felt guilty about his previous occupation, he has said, "My time in the City gave me the financial backing to get involved in politics. Without this, I would have struggled to live in London on my researcher salary of £14,000 per year. It amuses me when people claim that all MPs go into politics for the money."

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