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Last Updated: Friday, 21 September 2007, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
Jon Sopel
Jon Sopel
The Politics Show

Gordon Brown
Same conference... different role

On this week's Politics Show...

Another week and another seaside town beginning with B.

This time Bournemouth.

And everything is the same and everything is different.

As he has done for the past goodness knows how many years, Gordon Brown will stand up on Monday and deliver his keynote address.

But this time as prime minister. That bit will be new for him.

And what a start he's had.

The polls look good, and speculation continues that the next election could come much sooner than we think - maybe even as early as next month.

But is the Labour offering really in such good shape?

David Miliband
David Miliband will be in the hot seat...

Worries in the health service, war drums beating over public sector pay, turmoil on the markets and that's not to mention some of the big ticket international issues crowding in: Iran, Iraq, Zimbabwe, the EU referendum campaign and Israel/Palestine.

I'll be speaking to David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary.

Compulsory vote

Ballot box
How would you feel about compulsory voting..?

If and when an election is called, perhaps two out of every five adults in Britain will not bother with that walk to the polling station.

Perhaps they can't be bothered, perhaps they'll forget on the day, or perhaps they'll make a conscious decision to abstain out of disillusionment with the politicians on offer.

But what if not voting wasn't an option (please excuse the double negative)?

In Australia, and several other countries, voting is compulsory.

If you don't make it to vote, you will face a stiff fine - in some countries you can even go to prison.

When Australia has a general election in the next few weeks, hundreds of thousands of expatriate Aussie barstaff (ok cultural cliché - I know they do other jobs as well!) will be beating a path to Australia House in London to cast their postal votes.

So why shouldn't voting be compulsory in Britain?

Supporters of the idea say it's every citizen's civic duty to take an interest in who governs the country, and reluctant voters can always spoil their ballots or leave them blank if they don't want to express support for a particular party.

Opponents say it's not the state's business to tell us whether we should vote or not.

We want to hear your views.

Funding burden?

Immigrants impose an added burden on public money

We heard this week how a senior police officer warned that massive recent immigration has put severe strains on policing her patch.

It turns out that the government doesn't really have any clear idea how many immigrants are here, where they are, and what impact they're having on public services.

For two or three years, politicians have largely looked the other way while hundreds of thousands of people - mainly from new members of the EU, like Poland - have poured into Britain.

Now, all of a sudden, it's a hot political issue.

Most of the newcomers are of working age, so they're paying taxes, and they aren't making any demands of services like meals on wheels, old people's homes, and NHS care which is mostly consumed by the elderly.

But they do have babies, and many of their children end up in our state schools.

We try to get to the bottom of the burden on public services imposed by immigrants - and I'll be grilling the minister responsible.

Join me at 12 midday on BBC One - it's not compulsory, but I think you'll find it stimulating...

In his Autumn Political Cartoon Gallery, Gary Barker gives his own personal take on the politics of the week...

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