THIS WEEK'S PANEL
KENNETH CLARKE MP was Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1993-97 and is now Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. The latter position has been described as “older than democracy...older than the Norman Conquest” and at his swearing-in ceremony, Ken Clarke, according to The Guardian, “looked perfectly at home in his in wig, lace collar and gold brocade gown complete with silk stockings”. This week he announced plans to close 157 magistrates and county courts in England and Wales, at a saving of £36.8m. Last week he hinted that he backed sending fewer criminals to prison: “why is the prison population twice what it was when I was the Home Secretary not so very long ago?” He made his return to frontline politics in January last year, when he was made the Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills. He had previously headed up the Conservative Party’s Democracy Task Force, charged with reviewing the independence of the Civil Service and the ability of Parliament to hold the Government to account. Serving both Margaret Thatcher and John Major, he held four major cabinet posts: Health Secretary; Education Secretary; Home Secretary; and Chancellor. He has been rated by academics as the third most successful chancellor of the post-war era and was the highest ranked Conservative chancellor. Also well known for his love of jazz and cigars, he has presented a Radio 4 series on jazz and has been MP for Rushcliffe since 1970.
KELVIN MACKENZIE is a media entrepreneur and the former editor of The Sun. He was described in The Guardian this week as “the most hypertensive man in British journalism”. As Sun editor he was known for memorable front page headlines, such as “Gotcha” following the sinking of the Belgrano and “Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster”. The biggest controversy of his editorship was over the paper’s coverage of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, when 96 Liverpool supporters died. Kelvin later admitted that he had “made a rather serious error”. On the day of the European elections last year Kelvin invited his readers to make their anger known at the ballot box and “give the lying, deceitful, cowardly, cunning, criminal weasels who run our nation a bloody nose they will never forget”. In 1994 he left the tabloid to work briefly for BSkyB as Managing Director before joining Live TV. He went on to become chairman and chief executive of The Wireless Group which took over Talk Radio, successfully relaunching it as talkSPORT. He has chaired lads’ mag publishers, Highbury House and Media Square and he remains chairman of a media business including MyVideoRights.
TESSA JOWELL MP is Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, the Olympics and London. After the election, she wrote in The Observer that Labour had lost because, “we weren’t listening to people’s fears”. She is backing David Milband for the leadership of her party. As Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport between 2005 and 2007 she introduced 24 hour drinking, cut the level of the BBC licence fee and she was also responsible for bringing in new legislation to allow casino gambling. Four years ago she announced her separation from husband, lawyer David Mills, who faced legal proceedings in Italy. The split followed questions over her financial affairs. She was found not to have breached the ministerial code of conduct and received the backing of Tony Blair. Tessa Jowell came into government as health minister in 1997, and was minister for education and employment, before getting a cabinet seat in 2001. With a background in psychiatric social work, she is a former commissioner for the Mental Health Act. She has been MP for Dulwich since 1992 and was elected to Dulwich and West Norwood in 1997.
JASON COWLEY was born thirty miles from here, in Harlow, and is Editor of The New Statesman and a widely published cultural critic and journalist. In one of his regular columns for the Sunday Mirror, he described the race for the Labour leadership as a battle for fairness, “a moral crusade”. Before the election, he was very clear about what the country did and did not need to help it through its “national emergency”: “What it doesn't need is a Cameron victory and a Tory-led social revolution”. He was previously editor of Granta and editor of the Observer Sport Monthly magazine and a staff writer on The Times. He has published two books, a novel, Unknown Pleasures and, most recently, the memoir The Last Game: Love, Death and Football. The eponymous game was the 1989 match between Arsenal and Liverpool, just 6 weeks after Hillsborough. It was a game, which, for Jason, signalled, “a new start for the national game”. In 2009, Jason won the British Society of Magazine Editors’ Editor of the Year award in his category. The judges said he had transformed The New Statesman and "created issues of the magazine that were the envy of the industry".
Any Questions? with Jonathan Dimbleby is the topical debate programme in which guests from the…