David Aaronovitch
Michael Buerk
Claire Fox
Giles Fraser
Kenan Malik
Melanie Phillips
Michael Portillo
Matthew Taylor

David Aaronovitch

Born and educated in North London. Former president of the National Union of Students, BBC programme editor and executive, David joined the Independent in 1995. At the beginning of 2003 he switched to the Guardian and the Observer, and in June 2005 to The Times where he is a columnist. David has presented and appeared in numerous TV and radio programmes, including Have I Got News For You and Question Time.

He writes on politics, international affairs, culture, problems of democracy, literature and the arts.

David has won the What The Papers Say 1998 award for a writer about broadcasting, the 2000 Orwell prize for journalism and the What The Papers Say 2003 Columnist of the Year award.

He is the author of two books "Paddling to Jerusalem", which won the Madoc prize for travel journalism, and Voodoo Histories - a modern history of conspiracy theories - published in early May 2009.

Michael Buerk

Michael Buerk has presented The Moral Maze, a lively ethical dilemma discussion forum, since it began in 1990. Since 1998 he has also presented The Choice, in which an individual explores how they coped with a personal dilemma. He presented The Ten O'Clock News and 999, both on BBC One. He began his journalistic career with the Thomson Newspaper group in 1967 and went on to work on The Daily Mail.

Michael joined the BBC in 1970. During his subsequent years as a foreign correspondent, which included a four-year posting to South Africa, he reported from 53 countries. He has won numerous awards including Radio Broadcaster of the Year, the Royal Television Society's Journalist of the Year and the BAFTA News Award.

He lives in Guildford with his wife and has twin boys, who both work as journalists.

Claire Fox

Claire Fox is the director of the Institute of Ideas, an agenda-setting organisation committed to forging a public space where ideas can be contested without constraint. Claire initiated the Institute of Ideas whilst co-publisher of the controversial and ground-breaking current affairs journal LM magazine.

Claire is regularly invited to comment on developments in culture, education and the media on TV and radio. She writes regularly for national newspapers and a range of specialist journals. She has a monthly column in the MJ.

Claire previously worked as a mental health social worker and as a lecturer in English literature.

Giles Fraser

Giles Fraser is a priest and journalist, currently serving as Priest-in-Charge of St Mary, Newington near the Elephant and Castle. Before that he was the Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral and director of the St Paul's Institute, responsible for the cathedral's engagement with the City of London and the relationship between ethics and modern finance. He resigned from St Paul's in October 2011 following the resolve of the Cathedral Chapter to evict the Occupy protestors by force. He was the founder of Inclusive Church that lobbies for full inclusion of lesbian and gay people at all levels of the church. He has been nominated as the 2012 Stonewall "Hero of the Year".

His academic training is in philosophy, gaining a PhD in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, and going on to be a lecturer in Philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford. His general interest is in ethics and aesthetics and currently is a regular lecturer on moral leadership to soldiers at the Defence Academy at Shrivenham. His publications include Redeeming Nietzsche, Christianity and Violence and Christianity with Attitude.

He has written widely as a journalist in such diverse publications as The Socialist Worker and the Daily Mail, and currently writes the Loose Canon column for the Guardian. He also is a regular broadcaster on Radio 4's Thought for the Day and Saturday Review.

Kenan Malik

Kenan Malik is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the Department of Political, International and Policy Studies at the University of Surrey.

He was born in India, brought up in Manchester and now lives in London. He studied neurobiology (at the University of Sussex) and history and philosophy of science (at Imperial College, London).

For a number of years he was a research psychologist at the Centre for Research into Perception and Cognition (CRPC) at the University of Sussex. For the past decade, he has been an independent writer, lecturer, researcher and broadcaster. His books include The Meaning of Race (1996) and Man, Beast and Zombie (2000). His latest book Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate will be published in June 2008.

Melanie Phillips

Melanie Phillips is a British journalist and author. She is best known for her controversial column about political and social issues which currently appears in the Daily Mail.

Awarded the Orwell Prize for journalism in 1996, she is the author of All Must Have Prizes, an acclaimed study of Britain's educational and moral crisis, which provoked the fury of educationists and the delight and relief of parents. Her ideas have influenced politicians in both government and opposition, who follow her battles in the culture wars with fascination.

Styled a conservative by her opponents, she prefers to think of herself as defending authentic liberal values against the attempt to destroy western culture from within.

Michael Portillo

Michael attended a grammar school, Harrow County, and went to Peterhouse, Cambridge, where he gained a first class degree in History.

He left Cambridge in 1975, and for a year worked for a shipping company. He moved to the Conservative Research Department in 1976, where he spent three years. At the General Election in 1979 he was responsible for briefing Margaret Thatcher before her press conferences.

He joined the Government in 1986, and remained a member until 1997. He was a whip, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Social Security, Minister of State for Transport, Minister of State for Local Government and Inner Cities; and as a Cabinet Minister was Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Secretary of State for Employment, and Secretary of State for Defence. He was admitted to the Privy Council in 1992.

After his 1997 electoral defeat, Michael turned to journalism. He wrote about walking as a pilgrim on the Santiago Way, and working as a hospital porter. He had a weekly column in The Scotsman. He had a three part series for Channel 4 about politics Portillo's Progress, and a programme in BBC2's Great Railway Journeys series, which was partly a biography of his late father, and radio programmes on Wagner and the Spanish Civil War.

Michael was re-elected to Parliament in a by-election in Kensington and Chelsea in November 1999 and was Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer February 2000 - September 2001. Following the Conservatives' election defeat in 2001, Michael unsuccessfully contested the leadership of the party. In 2005 Michael left the House of Commons.

He has made a number of television programmes for BBC2 including Art That Shook the World: Richard Wagner's Ring. In 2003 he began the weekly political discussion programme This Week on BBC1 with fellow presenters Andrew Neil and Diane Abbott MP. Beginning in 2004 Michael became a weekly columnist on The Sunday Times.

Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor became Chief Executive of the RSA in November 2006. Prior to this appointment, he was Chief Adviser on Political Strategy to the Prime Minister.

Matthew was appointed to the Labour Party in 1994 to establish Labour's rebuttal operation. During the 1997 General Election he was Labour's Director of Policy.

His activities before the Labour Party included being a county councillor, a parliamentary candidate, a university research fellow and the director of a unit monitoring policy in the health service.

He was the Director of the Institute for Public Policy Research between 1999 and 2003, Britain’s leading centre left think tank. Matthew has written for publications including The Guardian, The Observer, New Statesman and Prospect.

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