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From Saffron Walden Town Hall, Essex

50 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 27 May 2011

Eddie Mair presents a discussion about politics and news from Saffron Walden Town Hall in Essex with Business Secretary, Vince Cable; Shadow Business minister, Chuka Umunna; novelist and screenwriter, Anthony Horowitz; and LBC broadcaster Julia Hartley-Brewer.

Producer: Victoria Wakely.

  • This week's panel

    Vince Cable is Business Secretary. When David Cameron visited Cable’s department of Business, Innovation and Skills soon after the election he described him as “an absolute star”. Since then the Prime Minister has stripped him of responsibility for media policy after the Minister told an undercover reporter he had “declared war” on Rupert Murdoch and earlier this month Vince described his Conservative coalition colleagues as "ruthless, calculating and thoroughly tribal". But that, he said, “doesn't mean to say we can't work with them.” He said in April that he hoped to continue in Cabinet but if he was forced out, “I can have much fun going around the country speaking, writing books and probably doubling my income in the process.” A former lecturer in economics at Glasgow University, he worked as an economist with oil giant Shell International, rising to become the firm’s Chief Economist in 1995. Once a Labour councillor in Glasgow, he was elected as MP for Twickenham in 1997. His 2009 memoir was called, Free Radical.

    Chuka Umunna was, until earlier this week, Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Labour leader Ed Miliband, a role in which he attended Shadow Cabinet. On Monday he was promoted to the front bench as Shadow Business Minister. This week he was critical of fellow Parliamentarians: “If MPs and peers use parliamentary privilege to flout court injunctions, that is a serious breach of the separation of powers in my view." He was elected MP for Streatham in May last year and was profiled by an Evening Standard writer in January: “To say that Umunna is a young man in a hurry does not begin to do justice to the astonishing speed of his advancement up Labour ranks.” He has 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. He once argued that New Labour "at its crudest… was predicated on a cynicism and a pessimism about the British public". He is an employment lawyer by profession.

    Anthony Horowitz is a screenwriter and children’s author of the sort of books, it has been said, that a child of 9-14 will drop their Xbox to read. He has been writing since the age of 8, and professionally since the age of 20. His most famous creation is teenage secret agent Alex Rider, who has appeared in nine novels since his debut in Stormbreaker in 2000 which was made into a film in 2006. Anthony created the television series Foyle's War, Murder in Mind and Midsomer Murders and has written episodes for many more. His next book is a new Sherlock Holmes novel, which comes out in November. His life, says his website, “might have been copied from the pages of Charles Dickens or the Brothers Grimm. Born in 1956 in Stanmore, Middlesex, to a family of wealth and status, Anthony was raised by nannies, surrounded by servants and chauffeurs.” He writes in a comfortable shed in his garden for up to ten hours a day.

    Julia Hartley-Brewer presents the afternoon show on weekdays on LBC, between 1 and 4pm. She worked for the Sunday Express for several years, as political editor and columnist . Last month on LBC she posed a question for callers: “How do you Solve a Problem like Vince? If you were Prime Minister, would you put up with your Business Secretary openly criticising you - or would you sack him on the spot?” She began her journalistic career on the East London Advertiser, where she answered calls from Reggie Kray ringing in from Maidstone Prison, and went on to work for both The Guardian and the Evening Standard. In 2006, she presented two political documentaries for BBC 2: one, about the history of British deputy prime ministers, was called Every Prime Minister Needs a Willie, and the other was a history of the leader of the opposition, The Worst Job in Politics.

  • This week's questions

    Is justice twenty years after the event a true deterrent for war crimes?

    What is the difference between a special relationship, and an essential one?

    Do you think Cheryl Cole got sacked because of her accent?

    As the LibDems were annihilated in the recent council elections, are they entitled to interfere with National Health reform?

    We were warned this week of hidden bombs in the economy. How loud are they ticking?



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