THIS WEEK'S PANEL
BORIS JOHNSON is Mayor of London. The victory, in 2008, of the man once described as “a shambolic success story” brought to an end Ken Livingstone’s eight year reign as London supremo, and he faces Ken again in the election next year. He supports the action against Libya, “and yet I must confess that when I saw that Tomahawk firecracker rise on Saturday evening from that American ship, I did not feel any propane blast of neo-con enthusiasm. I did not cry yee-hah or pound my sofa. I emitted a long, deep groan of apprehension.” In his seven years as Conservative MP for Henley-on-Thames he held a number of front bench roles, and was appointed to shadow higher education by David Cameron on the condition that he gave up his role as editor of The Spectator. He still writes columns for The Daily Telegraph and he used one of his January pieces to call for a cut in the price of fuel: “If I were the government, I would think seriously about that fuel duty stabiliser, because when it costs more to fill your tank than to fly to Rome, something is seriously wrong.”
BOB CROW is general secretary of the Rail and Maritime Union, whose membership has grown from 54,000 to 80,000 since he took over in 2002. The man who Boris Johnson once called “demented” is also thought to have called more strikes than any other union leader and said earlier this year: "I couldn't care less if we had no strikes in 10 years, or we had a million strikes." When Ed Miliband talks about “unjustified strike action,” Bob said, "I don't know what he's on about." He also had a couple of ideas for the Chancellor: “I'd put a 1 pence tax on every text message that's sent in Britain, that would nearly wipe out half the deficit." He also suggested a windfall tax on every share cashed in. Crow is the son of a docker from Shadwell and left school at 16, becoming involved in union politics whilst working for London Transport as an Underground track repairer. He describes himself as a “Communist stroke socialist.” His union’s website says it will be supporting tomorrow’s TUC-organised march against what the RMT describes as “the ConDem government's vicious cuts programme”.
SADIQ KHAN became Shadow Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice in October, after running Ed Miliband’s campaign for the Labour leadership. His responsibilities include political and constitutional reform. Last month, after the Prime Minister had made a speech on multiculturalism, he accused David Cameron of ‘writing propaganda for the English Defence League’. Since entering the House of Commons as MP for Tooting in May 2005, he made a name for himself as a member of the influential Public Accounts Select Committee and was named ‘’newcomer of the year" in the 2005 Spectator awards. In 2009 he became Transport Minister and was the first Muslim to join the Privy Council or attend Cabinet. He’s originally from Tooting and studied law at the University of North London and then Guildford. He co-founded the firm Christian-Khan – with the human rights lawyer Louise Christian - in 2002 and was chair of the pressure group Liberty from 2001- 2004. Asked earlier this year what had prompted him to specialise in human rights, he replied: "Acting for the underdog. When I was growing up, I saw friends' big brothers being stopped and searched by the police; people losing their jobs; my dad's garage under threat of closure. I needed to be useful."
DAME ANN LESLIE is one of the country's most distinguished foreign correspondents. She has witnessed and reported on some of the most significant events of the past 30 years including the fall of the Berlin wall; the failed coup against Michael Gorbachev and Nelson Mandela's final walk to freedom. After growing up in India and Pakistan, she began her career on the Daily Express and later became a freelance foreign correspondent for the Daily Mail. In 1997 she was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Media Society and released her memoirs, Killing my Own Snakes, in 2008. Leslie still writes on occasion for the Daily Mail. She was created a Dame for services to journalism in 2007. She once revealed her secret for dealing with difficult officials and others: “I go round looking round some bird-brained dimbo and I have a huge handbag containing pictures of my daughter”. When she appeared on Desert Island Discs, her luxury was an enormous amount of garlic with a garlic press.
A historic meeting: Boris Johnson and Bob Crow
Any Questions? brings about the first ever meeting between Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, and Bob Crow, the General Secretary of the RMT union.
Any Questions is the topical discussion programme chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby in which a panel of…