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03/06/2011

Duration:
50 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 03 June 2011

Jonathan Dimbleby presents a discussion about politics and what's in the news from St Julian's Methodist Church, Newport, Gwent, with the historian and biographer of Georgiana, the Duchesss of Devonshire, Amanda Foreman; shadow Labour minister for Wales, Owen Smith; Conservative MP, Nadine Dorries; and Helen Mary Jones, who was Plaid Cymru's assembly member for Llanelli but lost her seat in May's elections.

Producer: Victoria Wakely.

  • This week's panel

    Nadine Dorries is a Conservative MP. Last month she proposed a bill that would result in classes in abstinence, for girls aged 13 to 16. She told MPs that society was "saturated in sex" and teenagers should be taught that it was "cool" to say no. MPs voted in favour and the bill will receive its second reading in January, though it is unlikely to become law without government support. She has also made several unsuccessful attempts to reduce the time limit on abortion from 24 to 21 weeks. Last year she admitted her popular blog was “70 per cent fiction” after being criticised by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner for giving readers the impression she lived in her constituency when she actually spent most of her nights more than 50 miles away. Nadine trained and worked as a nurse before moving into business and eventually selling her company to BUPA. She became MP for Mid-Bedfordshire in 2005. Her grandfather was the founder of Everton Football Club.

    Helen Mary Jones lost her seat in Llanelli last month, which puts her out of the assembly for the first time since it was founded. She had been the deputy leader of Plaid Cymru in the Assembly and the party’s spokesman on Health and Social Services. During the campaign she described Labour as, “at best feeble and at worst morally bankrupt”. Before standing in Llanelli for the first time in 2007 she had held Mid and West Wales. She was named Assembly Member of the Year partly in recognition of her decision to give up what was seen as a safe regional list seat to stand in Llanelli. Her prize - a cartoon comparing her campaigning style to that of warrior Boudicca - was not an image she recognised: “I've never seen myself as a descendent of Boudicca, but I'll be happy to use any warrior skills I may have inherited to fight for Llanelli and Wales in the years to come." Before entering politics she worked as a special education teacher.

    Owen Smith is Shadow Minister for Wales and was elected as Labour MP for Pontypridd at the general election last year. Before joining Westminster he had worked as a BBC producer, on Radio 4’s Today Programme and on Dragon’s Eye for BBC Wales. He left the BBC in 2002 and became special advisor to the then Welsh Secretary, Paul Murphy. When Murphy went to the Northern Ireland office, Owen went too and he also accompanied Murphy to at least one of his appearances on Any Questions in Wales. He was head of government affairs for Pfizer Ltd from 2005–07 and Director of Corporate Affairs and Health Economics for Amgen Ltd from 2008–09. He contested Blaenau Gwent for Labour in 2006. His father, Professor Dai Smith, is chairman of the Arts Council of Wales and spent six years as head of English programmes on BBC Wales.

    Amanda Foreman is an historian, author of the best-selling Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. The book became the subject of a television documentary, a radio play with Judi Dench, and later a film, The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley. Amanda has been called, “the queen of historical biography”. Her narrative history of Britain's involvement in the American Civil War, A World on Fire: an Epic History of Two Nations Divided, was published last year. In 1998 she won the Whitbread Award for Biography for Georgiana. Her father was Carl Foreman, the Hollywood producer responsible for bringing High Noon, Bridge on the River Kwai and The Guns of Navarone to the screen. Amanda was born in London and at the age of seven, her parents moved the family to Los Angeles. At 10, she was sent to board in England. She returned to America to do her undergraduate degree at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, then went to Oxford, for her Masters on Georgiana.

  • This week's questions

    Should the Bahrain Formula One race take place this year?

    Is Britain powerless to defeat the corruption which is present in world football?

    Should the care of the most weak and vulnerable in our society be in the hands of private companies?

    It is said that the war on drugs has been lost. Does the panel agree, and would legalising drugs be the answer?

    Teaching abstinence does not work as the USA shows. Surely children should learn sexual behaviour from their parents?

  • L-R: Nadine Dorries; Amanda Foreman; Jonathan Dimbleby

    L-R: Nadine Dorries; Amanda Foreman; Jonathan Dimbleby

  • Owen Smith; Helen Mary Jones

    Owen Smith; Helen Mary Jones

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