Thursday 12 November, Glasgow

Thursday 5 November, London

Thursday 29 October, Birmingham

Thursday 22 October, Cardiff

Thursday 15 October, Leeds

Thursday 8 October, Bournemouth

Thursday 1 October, Manchester

Thursday 24 September, London

Thursday 12 November, Glasgow

On the panel were:

  • Sir Michael Forsyth, former Secretary of State for Scotland
  • Helen Liddell MP, Scottish Office minister
  • Roseanna Cunningham MP, Scottish National Party
  • Simon Hughes MP, Liberal Democrat Health spokesman
  • Sir Jeremy Isaacs, Television executive

    The Queen and Prince Charles

    Audience question: Isn't it time that the Queen abdicated?

  • Is Charles ready to be king?

    Roseanna Cunningham said: "The whole point, in my view, about a monarchy is that you don't get to choose - that in fact what you have is a hereditary system. I personally don't see that we need a monarchy at all."

    Sir Jeremy Isaacs said: "I think the Queen does an absolutely marvellous job, I don't think it's time for her to abdicate. But I do think that as people live longer and longer I think she has to decide at some her own time decide to go."

    Simon Hughes said: "It's very important we have older people as role models. It's a family business...sensibly they would do it together."

    Sir Michael Forsyth said: "The Queen has been on the throne now for more than 40 years. She has never put a foot wrong. She has served this country well and I think she is entitled to loyalty."

    You said:

    The Queen is sovereign for life isn't she? I don't think the Queen would ever forgive herself if she abdicated and let Charles reign. Look at his past record, views etc. They should skip Charles completely and look to William to reign.
    S. White, USA

    The Queen does a fantastic job in a very dignified and gracious manner. There is no reason for abdication and to suggest it is very disrespectful.
    Dale Hampton

    In no way should the Queen abdicate. She has often said that her job is for life. To abdicate while she is still so full of vim and vigor would be to make mockery of that pledge.
    Richard Johns

    I do not think that the Queen should step down. Charles has to learn to live up to the fact his mother will be Queen for many years, and that he will just have to wait.
    Linda Pack, USA

    The Monarchy is a tradition which should be saved. I do not understand why people even think about GBR without the Royal Family.
    Peter M. Milosheff

    It seems bizarre to me that we are discussing the subject of abidication of the monarch. There isn't a referendum on it and what anybody thinks is simply irrelevant as the institution of the monarch decides their own fate. Incidently, those who think that millions are wasted on the monarch should learn the facts. The loss of the monarchy would result in having to give back the Crown of State worth approx 100million year which amounts to a tad more than what they recieve on the civil list.
    Peter Brophy, USA, ex pat

    I think that the Queen should not abdicate. As life expectancy grows longer, so does the health of those who are older. Prince Charles may well be fitter at eighty than many of his ancestors were at thirty. We have had kings at all different ages. It is the way with hereditary royalty.
    P Fearn, Herne Bay

    Bless her heart. The Queen has had to endure the very public disintegration of her children's relationships. Now everyone's debating whether she should abdicate. She's a beautiful, vibrant woman with many fruitful years ahead of her. Leave her be!
    Vic Lowe

    The Queen does not need to abdicate. She has taken a job for life and should continue to do that job. Anyway she has proved to be an excellent monarch and any criticisms of her are unjust and normally made by uneducated partisan citizens.
    Francis Wynn

    I don't think Charles should ever be King! If he should ever marry Camilla, definitely not. His Uncle Edward had to abdicate to marry Mrs Simpson and the same should apply to Charles. I am a Diana fan and still believe that if Charles had loved her, she would be alive today. She was the best thing to ever happen to the British Monarchy. I live in South Africa but I was born in England, and I am still a loyalist.
    Norma Rockwood-Turner

    The Queen should not retire and we certainly do not need a republic, just look at the expense of running the president in the USA. I know that some feel that the monarchy is out of place in a modern democracy, but it doesn't matter who is at the top if you're at the bottom. A president / PM / Monarch all live a better life that a person out of work and in debt. It would be better to concentrate on the social ills than change the titular head of the nation. A monarch provides a continuity without the "stain" of political party or dogma.
    Tim Crowther

    Although I truly feel that there is little need for a monarchy other than to spend our tax money on holidays, I do feel that the Queen is a person much loved and respected by the people. Charles, on the other hand, is only just starting to gain any respect and is seen by many as a bit of a comical character. Charles needs more time to gain the respect of the nation and to be more visibly supporting the Queen and working with her.
    Paul Charters

    Prince Charles is regarded as an unsafe pair of hands with dubious views on many issues. I feel he as out of touch as the rest of the Monarchy and would not be a good King.
    Mal Linge

    It is impossible to have a society of equality when people are given millions of tax payers' money simply because of their family connections. It is time to have a truly equal society - sack the lords and cut all public funds to the monarchy. Otherwise any politician claiming to be fighting for a classless society has to be against the monarchy or they are simply lying to the people.
    Stuart Morrison

    As the more elderly members of society pass away, the younger members, who have not had the same upbringing and respect for the Royals, will doubtlessly see them as more of a burden than an asset. The monarchy could not keep up with the pace of change currently ongoing in society even if they wanted to, and I do not believe the Queen does want such sweeping changes.
    Neil Pleasants

    After reading comments on the web site. What are all these Yanks online defending the monarchy for? I thought they thought that they were well rid of them quite a while ago. You vote in your own bad jokes, Reagan, Bush, Clinton etc. We have no choice about these parasites wasting millions of pounds every year. Your nation is your fault. Don't we deserve that same right?
    Mr Forshaw

    The only thing the royal family is good for is bringing tourism to Great Britain. The best thing that they could do now is to forget Charles completely and to send William with a few friends backpacking across the world so that he has experienced real life. Then put him on the throne as our monarch, but we should definitely keep the queen for the time being.

    With respect to the Scottish audience, I'm English and from the NW and personally I would like to be a citizen of a free and independent England or UK, uncluttered with any consideration of an archaic monarchic system. Just because you're Scottish or Welsh doesn't mean that the monarchy is any less relevant to you than if you're English in the closing years of the 20th century.
    Mr Forshaw

    Instead of the Queen abdicating straight away, why not wait a couple of years for Prince William to turn 18 and then make him King? I'm sure he'd be a much more popular choice as opposed to Prince Charles. Surely the best way to make the Monarchy popular again would be to bring a young popular face in as Monarch.
    Stephen Ford

    Kings and Queens do not exist only in their day. They must all be very aware of their place in history. As probably one of the last Monarchs in this country and indeed the world, do you really think she will just end her reign by abdicating, something that has traditionally been seen as failure?
    Ian Gordon

    Surely the whole question about who exactly is the monarch is irrelevant, given that s/he doesn't actually do anything. Obviously there are the Royal engagements, but the Queen doesn't have any say in the running of the country.
    Alastair Rainsbury

    I am 21 and I believe that the Royal family do a good job, as well as providing the country with a lot of money through tourism. They also are what makes England great.
    Chris Bower, Staffordshire

    If the Queen's age is not important then perhaps she should follow John Glenn's example and be blasted off into space.
    Simon Briggs

    At a time when the government seems to be writing its own rules, there is a degree of comfort, however illogical, from the wise governorship of the monarchy.
    Neil Canham

    It's the Queen's decision. Long live the Queen!
    Garrett Barry

    The Queen is an annointed monarch. It is not just a job from which she can retire. However I think Charles should be given more power and to work along with his mother to modernise the monarchy.
    Barbara Whitford

    If the Prince Charles as been brought up to be a king he should know that it will happen at the death of the Queen, which is a natural course and the essence of the monarchy.
    Alan Henry

    I can see nothing wrong with the way the Queen has handled things during her tenure. The recent situation with the death of Diana, was to me, a good example of how the Queen is the best person for the job.
    C. Egan

    No way, the Queen should not step down. Look what she has done in her lifetime as Queen. She has earned the right to reign.
    C. White

    Prince Charles - leave the poor man alone for once and stop wasting time discussing something which may or may nor happen.
    Steve Cannell

    Their should be no question about it. The British Queen took on that job for life, and that is how long she should have it. I am sure the British people will stand by their Queen.
    Bob Lacy

    The Queen is doing an excellent job as Monarch. In no way should she feel external pressure from any source whatsoever to do what I perceive is still the unthinkable as Defender of the Faith.
    G Lloyd

    Although I do believe Prince Charles is an upstanding figure and deserves to be King one day, I still say Long live the Queen!
    Scott Richards

    The Queen will probably need to abdicate at some point in the future, mostly because the growing life expectancy of the average person. But for now, in her case, it would be best if she stayed on because she still commands the most respect from the public. Prince Charles ought to be given more time to rebuild his public reputation now that he isn't in Diana's shadow, since his work is really only now gaining large scale recognition.
    Ben Cockburn, Wallsend

    It is time for the Queen to allow her son to become King.
    Robin Joynson

    Prince Charles will just have to wait. This does not seem to concern him and should therefore not concern us, especially as the Queen is doing such a good job.
    Olly Dale

    From my point of view for her to step down would be like quitting your job. She has performed her duties without fail. She has not finished her job. Unfortunately it will end at her death. As long as she feels she can do her duties to her subjects then let her. She is the best one to decide if she is capable of doing her job properly or not. We don't.
    Saber Wilde, USA

    I think Her Majesty is doing (and has been for 46 years) an excellent service to the British and Commonwealth people, so I don't find any reason for her to resign.
    Alexander Cox

    I think the Queen is doing a fine job. The experience and dedication to duty she has embodied so far will only increase with time. Prince Charles, on the other hand, has shown himself sorely ill suited to the task of embodying the nation. It would be better if he should renounce his interest to the succession so that in due course Prince William can take over. If the monarchy is to be modernised, it should be towards the C21 - not back to the C18.
    Andrew Lewis

    The Queen should continue to reign until her death. This is how the system has always worked and there is no need for a change. Much of the hype surrounding this nonsense has been whipped up by a few individuals with private agendas, either increasing ratings and thus advertising revenue, or increasing sales of newspapers. Even authors of books are not blameless. As a general rule, given that writing the book was "a job", it was done for money!
    Andrew Fanner

    The Queen should not abdicate at the present time. She is doing a marvellous job and will continue to do so.
    Simon Roberts, Hong Kong

    The Queen is an admired and respected figure around the world. She represents all the best things about the United Kingdom. She considers it a sacred duty to reign for as long as her allotted time on this earth. Long may she continue to do so. With respect to the Prince of Wales, there should be no question of abdication.
    Bruce Plowman, Doha, Qatar

    There is no reason for the Queen to step down. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." A crude but accurate way of saying that she is Queen, has done well as Queen, and will continue to do well as Queen. There is no reason to change. Charles's time will come. He is more effective as Prince of Wales.
    George A. Strasser

    The monarchy has survived almost a thousand years, through crisis after crisis. What purpose would it achieve for Queen Elizabeth II to abdicate now? Is she incapacitated? Is she too ill to handle the rigors of her position? Is she incompetent? Queen Elizabeth II has given her life to her country, in a lifestyle we would all like to become accustom to, but would we? To have one's life and times and dirty laundry constantly before the public would not be a way I would like to live. As we near the end of this century and enter a new millennium, why destroy an institution that has survived this long? Or are we "throwing out the baby with the bath water?"
    Kären Ford-Bromenshenk

    The Queen is Sovereign for life. It is unfortunate that Prince Charles has grown to middle age and like King Edward Vll will be well on in years before his mother dies. Nevertheless, the Queen has always done her duty and led a blameless life. To her credit she has never sullied the position. Prince Charles on the other hand is an admitted adulterer and has disappointed many of his generation. One wonders how Charles would treat a demand from his own son that the old man should step aside. There is no going back for the Windsors. The Queen should stay until death, which is her right, and Charles should consider vacating his position as Heir Apparent. He may then marry the love of his life.
    Jon Friend, Toronto, Canada

    As an American, I respect and value the Queen and her judgement. She has maintained dignity in the insanity of the media's glare and family problems. Let her complete her reign. After the mistakes Charles has made, let's hope he will grow and mature enough in the public mind to command the affection and respect we have for his mother. He may yet make a worthy representative of Great Britain.
    Brad Chappell

    I think the Queen should continue in the job she does so well. However, I think that it is time to plan to move on to a revised system of governance to follow her reign. Something that combines the royal virtues of longevity and independence of the political regime without employing the hereditary principle. Why not a life sovereign who must be elected by a very large parliamentary majority such as 80%?
    David A. Kahn

    It's not the Queen's decision or Prince Charles' decision. We need a vote on whether we want a monarch at all. I believe the majority of people in Britain don't. Do the monarchists dare prove me wrong? I think not.
    David E Flavell, Liverpool

    The Queen should step down. Let's face it, New Labour, New Britain, same old monarch? Just doesn't ring melodious does it? Out with the old guard, in with the Prince of Wales. He is untapped source of rejuvenation whom, I sincerely believe, shall surprise everyone as monarch.
    John Parham

    No, the Queen should not step down. I wonder, if your Queen were a King instead, if anyone would be asking that question seeing that she is in fine health physically and mentally.
    Susan Cottey, USA

    No, the Queen should not step down. I feel it would be an unwise move, horrible things will happen to the economy, should she abdicate. The same cannot be said of Bill Clinton. HM Queen Elisabeth is someone to look up to. Clinton is not.
    Bob Ambrose, USA

    Her Majesty is doing a good job, and I am sure she is doing it better than Charles would at the present time. Talk about retirement is sending the wrong message to older citizens. If someone is doing something worthwhile, then it should not be important how old they are. It is much more important how well they are doing the job. Not only is the queen better at the job, I am sure she is more respected abroad.
    Colin Francis Moore

    The Queen should not abdicate now or ever. She is our Monarch and we should all respect her and accept that she should fulfil her duty to reign in her lifetime. It is about time the media stopped trying to destroy our most important institution.
    Roderick Bluh

    The Prince of Wales will always face the problem that the media will attempt to 'create' a topic of discussion for the sake of journalistic voyeurism. To the vast majority of people these 'created' events are of no more interest than many of the other such stories highlighted in the press. These events come and go but the certainty is that HRH will eventually become King and that will be that. This will of course open up a whole new range of topics for journalists to delve into, all with the public's interest at heart, for which the public will show some semblance of interest for a nano-second before being moved onto the next.
    M Shaer

    It's about time that Britain grew up and abandoned the hereditary principle altogether. There is no reason why an accident of birth should give anyone a privileged position in the country's political system.
    Bryan Pready

    Resignation is quite normal in everyday public life, as should abdication in everyday royal life.
    Richard Warmisham

    We are lucky to have the foremost, longest serving, most highly respected head of state in the world today. The value of that asset is incalculable to the country and to the world as a whole. As a former anti-royalist, I have greatly changed my attitude to the significance of the role of the monarch, and the insignificance of the democratic process.
    James Lynch, London (formerly from Glasgow)

    How much control can we attribute to the monarchy when they are so obviously a figurehead? So therefore should it matter so much who is leading this antiquated and hierarchical dynasty?
    Helen Micklethwaite

    Labour's selection of candidates

    Audience question: "Is the Labour party consumed with a passion for control or is there still room for the dissenting voice?

    Helen Liddell said: "I'm not going to make any apologies for the fact that we are a professional party. I'm not going to make any apologies for the fact that we believe in discipline. We use a democratic system to select our candidates. It's all about giving opportunity to new people."

    Simon Hughes said: "Dennis Canavan...I cannot believe fails the test other than that he doesn't conform to the new norm of New Labour. Tony Blair...really should try to let go and understand that people with different views are as valuable as people with his views."

    You said:

    I thought an overriding principle of democracy was that it should be the choice of the people, not the choice of a tiny clique with their own predetermined agenda.
    Neil Canham

    To the questioner I suggest that there is a third option - the passion has gone out of the Labour party's relationship and they have to resort to democratic blackmail to maintain their ideals.
    Neil Canham

    Margaret Thatcher took the choice of Londoners away from them and now Tony Blair is repeating the same mistake. He insults Londoners by the feeble excuses used in the attempts to exclude Ken Livingstone.
    Tyson Bunby

    M. Forsyth said that we should return power to Westminster. A prerequisite for this is taking power back from Brussels, i.e. repealing the Treaty of Rome. If MPs did this, then they might deserve some respect!

    Robert McWhirter

    Mr Forsyth wasn't so keen on defending students from tuition fees when I wrote to him as a student of Stirling University two years ago.
    Simon Briggs, Leamington Spa

    Those of us who voted for a Scottish Parliament in the referendum hoped for a Parliament with a distinctive voice. It seems that what Blair wants us to have is a house crammed with New Labour clones operated by pager. Dennis Canavan was selected for Westminster but not for Holyrood, it seems, because he is no slave to Alaister Campbell or the Labour whip. Canavan is, however, just the sort of independent voice necessary to put life into Scottish Politics. It seems that Blair neither believes in Devolution in practice, nor understands the process he has helped put in motion.
    Steve McKee

    As an Englishman, I don't care if the Scots were to elect Sean Connery or Mel Gibson as their president. My best and sincerest good wishes to the SNP.
    Ken Davis, London

    The voters choose the MPs - why are they not allowed to choose who stands for Scottish leader from ALL the MPs?
    Dave Green

    The apparently draconian 'iron rule' of Mr Blair's government appears to simply be an over-reaction to the pathetic and destructive in-fighting witnessed during the last government. As with many things in politics a sensible balance between freedom of thought and speech and party solidarity MUST be forged or Mr Blair's government will fail as dramatically as Mr Major's but for the opposite reasons.
    Stuart Morrison

    Saddam Hussein

    Audience question: What possible justification is there for bombing innocent Iraqis? If not bombing what does the West do?

    Roseanna Cunningham said: "I fear that air strikes alone are not going to do it. Unless we can find a situation that will allow the Iraqis themselves to develop a democratic process, then all we're going to do, even if we manage to get rid of Saddam Hussein, is to replace him with someone just as bad."

    Helen Liddell said: "This is a man who has already used weapons of mass destruction against civilians. He is, I think, to some extent counting on the West and our allies backing off the issue. The message has to go clearly to Saddam Hussein that the time for playing games is over.

    Sir Michael Forsyth said: "We made a terrible mistake in the Gulf War by not keeping going and taking him out then. I think, everybody in the country should get behind the Prime Minister and the United States and support our troops in the action which they will have to take."

    You said:

    In my opinion it is important to stop this DICTATOR now!
    Crispian Rogers

    Enough is enough. As a Kurd from Iraqi Kurdistan I believe Saddam Hussein and his brutal regime should have been terminated ages ago. But frankly we the Kurds and the Iraqis believe that the West is not serious in dealing with him and whatever they do will bring more misery for the Iraqis in general and the Kurds in particular. So West should shut up.
    Salar Bapir

    We are on the brink of the bombing Iraq and thousands have lost their homes and livelihoods in Hurricanes Georges and Mitch - but the audience in Glasgow are being typically parochial!
    Shivonne Graham

    I am an Iraqi citizen, like to ask the panel whether it is human, to hurt innocent Iraqi people more than what they have already suffered. And is it not a basic human right to have food. Why sanction?
    Raye Mazzori

    Perhaps it's better if the USA and UK try to deal with Saddam rather than doing nothing and finding that Israel deals with it instead?
    David Rodliffe Cuddington, Cheshire

    Whilst we are all dismayed by what is happening in Iraq, I find it extraordinary, one day after Armistice Day, that anybody can argue that the civilised world should not stand up to a man who has no regard for the United Nations or for his own people.
    Eric Coutts

    Saddam is an evil presence in an unstable area of the world, and the temptation is to remove him from the political scene. However, I begin to wonder whether this present course of implied "punishment" of an entire country is really within our remit as a country. In the end, ours is a fuel led world, and this seems to lead the real argument, rather than horror at Saddam's conduct.
    Joss Sanglier, London

    Surely it is clear that the failure to continue the Gulf War is a perfect example of restraint and limited war. Once the immediate aims were achieved - ie. the removal of Iraq from sovereign Kuwaiti territory, a cessation occurred. In my opinion this has a direct link to the escalation of conflict in Vietnam to an unsustainable level and the desire of the allies to have no repetition of this futile carnage. Whilst it would be desirable to remove Saddam Hussein, it is not viable without huge losses of life and capital, with relatively little gain. It is important to remember that the Middle East is a volatile area and would not tolerate wide-scale American or Allied influence
    Chris Taylor

    Why is it that only certain countries in the world suffer the full brunt of breaking UN resolutions, while others are told don't do it again? How can any government that openly spends billions on weapons of mass destruction, complain about other countries doing the same ?
    Iain Hamilton

    Is America the right nation to follow in the threat to bomb Iraq, considering their disgraceful human rights abuses in Vietnam, raising funds for the IRA for weapons to kill British citizens and the random killing of Libyians in Tripoli?
    Andrew Lister, Aberdeen

    Saddam is in the strong political position of being a callous war-monger who thinks nothing of human misery or rights. He knows our leaders are more humanitarian and less likely to kill without mercy or compassion than he. The bottom line is that we care about civilian casualties while he does not. He must be stopped by any means and future dictators of his ilk must be dissuaded.
    Stuart Morrison

    The House of Lords recommendation on cannabis for medical use

    Audience question: "Do the panel feel it should be made available for genuine cases?"

    Helen Liddell said: "No drug would be given to someone unless there was absolute certainty about the nature of the side effects that it would have. What would happen to a doctor if he was to prescribe cannabis legally and something was to happen to the patient? We want to make sure the drug is safe"

    Roseanna Cunningham said: "It is because there are people in pain who are now telling us in vast numbers that they do get relief from this, that I think it would be very unfair to draw the agony out a lot further."

    You said:

    It is high time that legalisation was considered per se, and we were granted the same freedom of choice as is currently accorded to alcohol users, notwithstanding all its associated physical and social effects.
    Jonathan Lewis, Swansea

    At the risk of sounding flippant, many younger doctors have already performed their own informal testing of this, and other drugs, in their time off. Maybe they could tell the BMA of any adverse side effects.
    Jonathan Banks

    Who do the government think they are kidding? Cannabis has been used in its "raw and toxic" form for thousands of years and there have been no recorded deaths from cannabis. Both recreational users and those who use it to ease both psychological and physical pain suffer much more damage from the tobacco in a joint (for which the government gets huge amounts of cash for).
    Stuart Morrison

    The government has decided to wait five years to see if cannabis is safe to use yet they allow hundreds of people to die each year as a result of tobacco. Wouldn't it make sense to stop a drug that is killing people in favour of one that will save lives?
    Jimi Tubman

    I think that cannabis should be legalised for health reasons only. I think that if you have a medical problem, and nothing else can cure the pain, it should be allowed. I don't think that it should be legalised for the public to use. Soft drugs eventually do lead to hard drugs, no matter what people say.
    Nicol Hankin

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