Question Time tonight features a virtual audience drawn from Sedgefield, birthplace of actor and screenwriter Mark Gatiss. But who will prove a screen hit like Sherlock – and who will be best forgotten like Sex Lives of the Potato Men? Here’s your guide to the panel…
Who? Conservative peer
A former education secretary who was unceremoniously sacked by Theresa May upon taking office – she wreaked revenge, of sorts, in a now long-forgotten row about the cost of the then prime minister’s trousers – Morgan took up the chairmanship of the Treasury select committee a year later. Having said in 2018 that “I would not serve in a Boris Johnson cabinet,” she subsequently served in a Boris Johnson cabinet, becoming digital, culture, media and sport secretary upon Johnson taking office, a poll she retained even after stepping down as an MP last year as she was immediately handed a peerage. Now one of the favourites to become the next chair of the BBC, she was once replaced by an expensive designer handbag after pulling out of Have I Got News For You.
Who? Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury
Labour MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, Phillipson is viewed with intense suspicion by Corbynistas as being firmly on the right of the party, or – having voted for David Miliband as leader in 2010, Yvette Cooper in 2015, Owen Smith in 2016 and Keir Starmer in 2020 – the “vaguely interested in maybe one day sort of being in government” wing. One of the first Labour MPs to call for a People’s Vote in any eventual Brexit deal following the referendum, she has been vocal in her criticism of the chancellor’s coronavirus employment support schemes, describing them as having “more holes than a Swiss cheese”. Has warned Labour against looking inwards, saying “making our own echo chamber larger is no substitute for knocking its walls down”.
US economist behind such theories as risk aversion, the Henry George theorem, information asymmetry, monopolistic competition and the Shapiro–Stiglitz efficiency wage model, Stiglitz is a former chief economist of the World Bank and recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. Nevertheless tonight will be forced to find an opinion on whether Angela Raynor should have used an offensive term in the Commons. An opponent of Donald Trump, he has said that “the only option left for Americans is to deliver an overwhelming victory for Democrats at all levels in next month’s election”. Which, to be fair, I could have said. Where’s my Nobel Memorial Prize?
Who? Children’s Commissioner for England
Children’s Commissioner for England since 2015, Longfield was previously chief executive of leading national children’s charity Children 4 which delivered early years support, school support and youth services. Has spoken in recent days about the toll of the pandemic on children’s mental health, saying: “We need an NHS trained counsellor in every school … government plans [for training hundreds of mental health workers to work in and near schools] will only reach a quarter of schools in three years. That is really important but given the level of disruption in children’s lives … it is something that needs to be prioritised.” Has also said that “it would be catastrophic” if schools were to close for an extended period after the half term in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.
Founder of OVO Energy and former owner of the Manor Racing Formula One team, Fitzpatrick is president of Vertical Aerospace, which designs and builds “vertical take-off and landing electrically powered aircraft” (magic helicopters without the rotors, basically). As chief executive of OVO has warned that the government will need to provide a “greater social safety net” to help financially distressed households this winter, as rising unemployment due to the coronavirus pandemic coincides with the season when spending on heating increases as much as 10 times. According to The Times last year, Fitzpatrick “sports stubble and shuns suits in favour of jeans and an open-neck shirt” while OVO’s Bristol office “features a treehouse with a giant slide”. Cool.
Question Time is on BBC One at 10.45pm tonight (11.25pm in Northern Ireland)