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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 13:48 GMT
South: Political foresight
Ian Paul
Ian Paul
The Politics Show South

Crystal ball
Crystal ball is dusted off by Politics Show South

Who would be a political pundit right now? Politics Show South is venturing a toe into the icy waters of prognostication

Certainly it would have taken an extraordinarily prescient crystal ball-gazer to have said this time last week that, for example, Charles Kennedy would be gone as leader of the Liberal Democrats and that local MPs Mark Oaten and Chris Huhne would be contending for his vacated position!

Nothing daunted, we will be taking a look at some of the stories we covered last year and getting some top tips on the ones that will be exercising ourselves and the politicians here in the South over the next twelve months.

Stubbed out

Last year we reported from Ireland, where there is already a ban on smoking in public places. It has had some rather surprising results - for instance the rise of "smirting". Like flirting, but more likely to succeed.

Unable to enjoy a cigarette in the bar, young Dubliners are huddling outside.

And in the sharing of a illicit pursuit romance has blossomed. Passing the packet around strangers talk, smirt, and maybe more ...

Back home, the Borough of Poole was considering bringing in a new by-law restricting where people can smoke.

And they could show that public opinion was on their side.

The council asked Bournemouth University to conduct a survey on the residents of Poole.

The results showed that 76% wanted a total ban, 14% were against one and 10% did not know.

With the government this week announcing that there will be a free vote on the smoking ban issue, it looks likely that the total ban will come into force rather than the partial one the government originally proposed.

Good news for the people of Poole - or 76% of them at any rate.

Girls on top

We also looked at why there are so few women involved in politics. When Nancy Astor took her seat in the House of Commons in 1919 as the first woman MP she was one amongst 706 men.

Eighty-seven years later, there are 127 women in a House of Commons of 646 MPs.

That is the highest number ever - more even than the "Blair's Babes" Parliament of 1997 - but the question has to be, why is it not higher still?

Women are 52.15% of the electorate, but only 19.8% of those who get elected

Just days after the programme, Theresa May was arguing for an A-list of candidates to be offered the Conservatives' most winnable seats.

The list would be split 50/50 male and female. Shortly after he became party leader, David Cameron announced that the Tories would be adopting just such a policy.

Blowing in the wind

Another story we covered was renewable energy, and the proposals to site wind farms in various places along the south coast.

Tony Blair has set ambitious targets for Britain to lead the world in developing wind power, with an aim of 20% from renewable sources by 2020.

One proposed site was on Romney Marsh - 27 turbines covering 1,000 acres, each turbine 370 ft tall, or the height of a 30-story block of flats.

The plans were strongly opposed by locals, but even so the wind farm has been given the go-ahead.

Now, though, the Prime Minister is sounding as if he would rather go down the nuclear road. Is building more nuclear power stations really the answer to our energy needs?

What do you think are the issues we will be talking about this year? Send us an email and we will put your point to our panel of MPs.

The Politics Show

Join Peter Henley live from the Brighton and Hove Greyhound Stadium on Sunday 22 January at noon on BBC One.

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