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Page last updated at 11:38 GMT, Wednesday, 9 July 2008 12:38 UK

Solving a tricky political problem

Max Cotton
Max Cotton
The Politics Show

In our 'Politics Max' strand of the Politics Show, we highlight viewers' problems and try to take them to the politicians who just might be able to fix them.

Max and Thea in Westminster
Max and Thea in Westminster

This week, 85-year-old Dorothea Johnson contacted 'Politics Max' to try to resolve a problem with immigration law, which has haunted her for 20 years.

Here she tells her story:

My Politics Show experience... Dorothea M Johnson, July 2008

Nobody likes a whiner, but I have nursed a grudge against the UK government for over 20 years, and so am probably considered boring, avoidable company.

The issue is my sex (female), which has kept me from passing on my British nationality to my only child Frances.

Frances was born in South Africa as a consequence of WW2.

I nursed in the Royal Navy for 4 years before being drafted to Simonstown where I took my demob to train as a Midwife.

Before long, I met and married a South African who had also served in the war and, in 1949, produced our daughter, Frances.

Politics Max

At that time, only fathers could transfer British citizenship.

I, of course, was a mother - so no British passport for my girl.

In 1981, the British Nationality Act changed the whole scene, allowing mothers as well as fathers to pass on their citizenship.

The act was made 'Not Retrospective' however, so my daughter's luck was out.

Not surprisingly, I felt this was unfair.

Over the years, I have written dozens of letters in protest to various politicians and Authorities but all in vain.

It was so frustrating. I felt that I was being penalised for being a woman.

That in this year of 2008, I was still subject to the sexist laws of 1949.

Max, Thea and Chris Huhne
Thea meets Chris Huhne, Lib Dem Home Affairs spokesman

Fast Forward to the 'Politics Show' on Sunday 15 June 2008.

A group of youngsters had written to reporter Max Cotton about their campaign to have Politics GCSE introduced to the curriculum and he had introduced them to various politicians - even a government minister.

Viewers were invited to email in with any political problems that Max could help with.

I was in such a hurry to join the throng that I emailed both my wrong street address and my wrong phone number!

The team are clever people however.

Max managed to ferret out the correct phone number, gave me a call, and within days Max, the producer, and the crew were here and filming my daughter, Frances, and me in the garden.

Thea and daughter Frances
Thea with her daughter, Frances

Everybody involved in the production has been kindness itself. It was interesting and enjoyable.

I spent a full day in London with the crew.

Arrangements had been made for me to meet knowledgeable people and experts who could, perhaps, influence my cause.

But my chances of success seemed remote. I became quite despondent.

EUREKA happened on July 3rd 2008, when the crew took me to a seat by the river near the Houses of Parliament.

It transpired that, unbeknownst to me, the producer Ian and Max had personally spent two days talking things over with the Home Office authorities.

They obtained a written statement, I saw it, which ran as follows:

Max and Thea
Max shows Thea the statement from the Home Office

'The Government accepts that those born to British mothers (abroad) before 1961 are at a disadvantage, so it is confirmed that we shall seek to bring forward a legislative remedy at an early stage, perhaps in the Immigration Reform Bill already proposed.'

Translated, this means that my daughter can apply for, and will be granted, British nationality in the very near future!

I could hardly believe it, but Hansard said it was true!

My admiration for the creators of this programme is boundless. They worked so hard, with both their minds and their muscles.

No more 'whining'. I shall be grateful to the "Politics Show" forever.


'Politics Max' is the interactive strand, within the Politics Show, which deals directly with your own concerns and complaints.

Max has already solved a number of tricky problems - here are just three:

Politics Max

Max is always looking for more of your political problems to solve.

So if you need help to tackle the powers that be, from parish councils to EU officials and everything in between, then email Max and the team on politicsshow@bbc.co.uk - or use the e-mail form below...

The Politics Show is on BBC One at 1200 GMT on Sundays.

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