Find out what you had to say about Question Time on Thursday, 18 November, 2004 from Norwich.
The topics discussed were:
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:
Prince Charles's comments on education
Audience question: Are the contents of Prince Charles's memo an example of a man out of touch or someone speaking a reality that others pretend doesn't exist?
What do people expect Charles Windsor will feel about social mobility and equality? He is obviously a staunch supporter of the monarchical system that he has benefited from and perfectly happy with the idea that people are born into a particular station in life and should be content with that. Given that he will unfortunately one day be head of state it does matter what he thinks and he should learn to keep his mouth shut. It is about time that politicians were prepared to say that it is no longer accceptable in the 21st Century (if it has ever been) to have an unelected head of state whose very position is predicated on the belief in inherent inequalities between individuals.
Joseph Duggett, Manchester
I was classified as ESN (educationally sub-normal) by my local education authority at the age of eight. My father refused to limit my ambitions and I eventually went on to achieve a philosophy degree and am currently studying for a masters degree in Intellectual Property law. Indeed, I recently won a department scholarship to represent the department at European conferences. A few years ago my father was told by an educational psychologist that he should be pleased if I ever managed to eat communally without incident. Anyway, by hook or by crook (or divine right, whatever) I hope to one day seize the UK throne from the House of Windsor. As they say, shoot for the stars, and hit the moon !
I agree with not giving people false aspirations, however, for those who do not have the family resources or the finances to achieve their aspirations, the government should be putting their money where their mouths are and provide the support and meaningful opportunities for those young people who are ambitious and do want to work hard to get to where they want to be, regardless of their background, for example, through free higher education.
Tara McCarthy, Edinburgh
As a Head of Music in a secondary school in South East London, I have to agree wholeheartedly with the Prince. This is not to say that it is wrong to have aspirations - I have many students who have fantastic dreams which I honestly believe that they will go on to achieve. Unfortunately however, there is a significantly large group of children who firmly believe that society owes them a great debt, and that when they leave school there will be companies, record producers and agents falling over themselves to offer them contracts for their "talents".
These are the students who sit around refusing to listen, who complain when the work is boring, who constantly argue with the teacher insisting that they know best. They are also the ones who are going to get a nasty shock when they leave school! Oh well, at least McDonalds will never be short of employees ;)
Richard Swan, Brockley, London
Prince Charles is right and Charles Clarke is wrong. I read today that corporate accounts departments spend 10 hours a month teaching colleagues basic maths, according to a survey by Ajilon Finance. That says it all! The Charles Clarkes of this world are far more interested in populist politics and political ideology, rather than good common sense and what is good for the country.
Adrian Archer, Dorchester
Prince Charles at least is honest and speaks his mind. Many MPs should take note and start living by similar principles.
Prince Charles is entirely correct in what he says - he has been quoted out of context. He is saying that we can not expect all students to be judges etc, but they can aspire to be. The important thing is that they should always be encouraged to be happy with their station but still to aspire to be better. It REALLY shows that this government, once again, is out of touch with the public - ref: the debate with Jeremy Vine today in which Ben Bradshaw was present.
Rob Boswijk, Leicester
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Text: Charles's memo just confirms what a waste of money he is. Let those who disagree pay for him and his sponging family.
There is a difference between dreams and reality. You can dream but if you don't put in the sweat towards it and have a bit of luck on the way you are not going to achieve your dreams. That's what the prince was trying to say and that is fact.
Theophilus Appah, Croydon
Text: All Prince Charles did was call a spade a spade. MPs don't like us to hear the truth.
I'm studying sociology at university at the moment and have come to the conclusion that it is unfair to tell children in education that they can achieve whatever they want. The idea is unrealistic; only a few can make it to the top and many very capable and highly educated people are knocked back by our hierarchical social structure.
Claire Dillon, Reading
Text: Charles Windsor should stick to his royal duties and let Charles Clarke get on with his.
Eric, South Shields
I'm surprised Jenny Tonge was allowed to get away with misquoting Prince Charles's remarks, in wrongly stating that he'd said people should "know their place". In fact he said people shouldn't think they can achieve greatness without "putting in the necessary effort or having the natural abilities" - which is pretty much similar to Jenny Tonge's stated view that "if you've got talent and you're prepared to work hard then the world is your oyster".
Text: The P of W has hit the nail on the head. Charles Clarke and New Labour are the ones out of touch.
I can't believe that the education minister has the time to comment on what was after all a private opinion. He did not say people shouldn't aspire, he said they need to work at it. As someone who works with children, I've seen children who misbehave and disrupt have resources thrown at them while those who are quiet but in need get nothing.
Miss Roberts, London
Text: Prince Charles is right. I am a teacher and know where he is coming from. Clarke is totally out of touch and does not have a clue.
When did Prince Charles work hard to get where he is?
Text: Charles seems to say people should not rise above their station. What century does he think we're in?
Jenny James, Grantham
Prince Charles's comments were a private letter revealed by a secretary who apparently did not get the promotion she felt her due. We cannot all climb higher. The audience and panel seemed unnecessarily vindictive.
Joan Vass, Berkshire
Text: Prince Charles only said what many of us are saying. Charles Clarke's reaction shows a nerve was tweaked. Good on you HRH.
The first woman responding has just repeated Charles' sentiments almost exactly, namely to encourage people to go as far as they can with hard work and natural talent! Doesn't anybody listen or read properly anymore? She just wanted to have a go at Charles.
Nick Large, Newbury
Although Prince Charles's memo was obviously not intended for publication, it is unfortunate how much it reads like Hudson from Upstairs Downstairs rebuking the under-house parlour maid for getting above her station.
James Hilley, Middlesex
I believe Prince Charles was right to challenge education. Pupils leave school nowadays believing they have four or five GCSEs, when in reality, their grades are D, E or F. In my day these would have constituted failure, but now these pupils leave school with a false impression of their achievements and ability.
Jill Conlan, Liverpool
I hope this is the kind of patronising claptrap which will eventually spell the end of the monarchy. How much effort has Charles had to put into his opportunity to become head of state?
David Bibbt, Brussels
Nobody has mentioned the Prince's Trust. This is widely supported, the Prince's concept, and has been of untold benefit to thousands of people from unprivileged backgrounds.
David Johnston, London
I would classify myself as a radical socialist, and yet as a teacher and with friends who are teachers I must agree with Prince Charles 100%. Instead of playing to students' strengths and acknowledging their weaknesses, we seem to be truly heading into an entirely unrealistic culture of non-failure, where we have grades like "near pass" instead of fail.
Jenny Tonge didn't read the memo at all! Prince Charles actually said you cannot expect to achieve without HARD WORK and TALENT. He didn't say that you have to be born with a silver spoon in your mouth. Maybe she should get an education.
Simon Hutton, Reading
Audience question: Is the impending ban on hunting a victory for democracy or a blatant piece of class prejudice?
I've nothing against secular morality but could someone tell me how it works? Why does it need a law to protect foxes but an individual can legally abort an unborn child? From a religionist perspective this phrase is probably one of the few actual phrases of Jesus:
"Foxes have holes, and the birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." Matthew 8:20. It reads like a prophecy of our modern day secular values - if only I understood them.
John Hawthorne, Guildford
Don't allow anyone, especially media apologists like Messrs Dimbleby or Humphries sell the idea that this is a small issue. It is the most important one ever, because it defines whether or not we have a democracy. It's not looking good on that front so far, given the fantastic difficulty even a huge majority are having in trying to bring in a hugely popular law which happens to be against the wishes of the Ruling Class.
The Arguist, Norwich
I am very disappointed in the government's discussion to ban fox hunting. The farmers will lose so many sheep. And the farmers have been, since the war, the back bone of the country.
J Cox, Victoria, Canada
Neither I or anyone I have spoken to was asked by our local MP how he should vote in the hunting debate, or any debate for that matter, so just how democratic is our parliament.
Malcolm D. Watts, Mold.
Germany has one of the most commercially successful equestrian industries in the world, without fox hunting, and it continues to provides jobs and enjoyment for people who enjoy sport with horses.
Nick Powers, Cheltenham
Fox hunting should have been made illegal years ago. It is as barbaric as bear baiting, bull fighting and cock fighting. Those that do it don't like being told that they can't particularly by a Labour government. If they enjoy riding horses around the countryside let them drag hunt and pay land owners for the use of their land.
John Richardson, Manchester
Foxes will continue to be killed by farmers using indiscriminate gassing/trapping & shooting. This will also inevitably cause badgers, rabbits and pets to be killed by mistake! This is far less humane and less effective. Many foxes will suffer agonisingly slow deaths as a result of this ban due to traps and inaccurate marksmanship! The hunt ban will never save foxes just spoil people's fun! Anti- hunt protesters refuse to face up to the fact that farmers will continue to kill foxes and the alternatives are far less pleasant!
Alison Blasdale, Chepstow
It's not about stopping foxes being killed, it's about stopping grown adults (and even worse, children) chasing wild animals around the country and allowing packs of dogs to rip them to pieces. We stopped cock fighting and dog fighting, was it OK to legislate against them because it was predominately a working class pursuit, then? And the pro-hunt lobby talk about class issues..
Andy Jones, UK
Text: Ban fox hunting now! It's cruel and evil.
Why only three months to introduce a hunting ban but three years to introduce a smoking ban?
Paul Newland, Bristol
Well done to Simon Hart and the Countryside Alliance. I am just about to join the organisation as I think what this government is doing is so wrong in respect of a ban on hunting and democracy for our country. I used to be a hunt sab and the whole thing now sickens me. I have just written a cheque to join my local hunt.
Mark Halford, Leicestershire
Text: Foxes are not cute and cuddly. They can spread foot and mouth and rabies.
Is the government's next step to make us all vegetarians because of the cruelty to animals in the way in which they are, for the greater part, reared and slaughtered?
Lesley Johnstone, Portsmouth
While Scotland is burying soldiers needlessly killed in Iraq, the government sees fit to discuss banning hunting. It is very sad to see people protesting about something which is meaningless compared to mothers, fathers, wives and children being faced with life without a loved one.
Gerry Kelly, Dumbarton
Text: Let the Hooray Henrys and Henriettas hunt each other with dogs. That should be good sport.
The ban is about the worst thing that could have happened for foxes in the countryside. They are classed as vermin but currently are mainly left alone for the hunt. It will be open season for them to be shot and poisoned to extinction, and soon you will only see them raiding bins in the cities.
Text: It's a class war and nothing more!
It is quite obvious, and has been admitted that, the hunting legislation has been entirely based on political reasons and not on evidence.
Rob Boswijk, Leicester
Democracy is not majority rule.
Steve Hemingway, Bournemouth
Text: The fact is, setts are dug out to induce foxes to lair and breed, just for hunting. Tell the public the whole truth.
A.R., Bognor Regis
If this government is banning hunting it should be banning all zoos, as this is real cruelty to animals. What kind of public uprising would we see then?
David Fitch-Peyton, Leighterton
This hunting bill has never been about foxes. To start with it was about class warfare, then it ended up being a case of Lords vs MPs. The House of Commons should be ashamed of this outright prejudice and intolerance of a vital and humane rural tradition.
Steven Newlove, Harrogate
Text: After centuries of oppressing the rest of us, it's ridiculous for the upper classes to cry prejudice when, for once, things don't go their way.
Hunting is no less an important issue than factory farming or livestock transportation. The fact this issue has received air time can only be a positive step towards outlawing unacceptable cruelty and suffering. The argument that hunting is a form of pest control is false, as this is not the most successful and efficient method of controlling pests. It is however linked to revenge and a show of human power. Hunting has no place in our society.
Tammy Wakeford, Devon
In view of one of tonight's topics I would like to have seen "Basil Brush" or one of his representatives on the panel. I think they may have had different views to some of the panellists and audience which would have proved more realistic!
David Wilcox, Romford
A ban on smoking in public places yesterday, fox-hunting today - but don't feel left out - I'm sure they'll get round to banning something that you enjoy in the near future.
P. Sakes, Sunderland
If the government now has the authority to overrule the decisions of the Lords, what is the point of having an undemocratic house, which has no say in our policy, yet continues to cost us millions each year, just to keep the tourists happy?
Eric Shearer, Biggar
Text: The Labour party will rue the decision to ban hunting. They will lose many valuable votes from the countryside over this.
Those pro-hunters who say they will break the law by disregarding the ban and continuing to hunt could be forced to accept the will of the people by other legitimate means. Cross compliance measures being drawn up that farmers and landowners must adhere to in order to claim their single farm payment could easily state that no payment will be made on any land on which fox-hunting is carried out.
Tom Gray, Perthshire
Is the Question Time I love drifting away into an "England only" mind set? The hunting issue was settled here in Scotland some time ago.
David Wright, Haddington
Text: The word BAN is the only word this present dictatorship government knows.
Te hee. Game over.
How do we plan to police the hunting ban? Is my local "bobby" going to be careering around the countryside pursuing unlawful huntsmen through the fields whilst more sinister crimes are being committed?
Dave Dingle, North Devon
If fox-hunting has been banned on the grounds of cruelty can I assume Halal meat is next to be banned?
Rod Lowe, Baughurst
Text: Most country bumpkins need a reality check.
If the government is so worried about following the will of the majority on hunting, why did it order the invasion of Iraq?
Sylvain Godfroid, Bruxelles, Belgium
My guess is that far more people die from hospital bugs than animals die through hunting with dogs.
Rosemary Ablitt, Liphook
Text: The Countryside Alliance does not represent the views of everyone in the countryside.
There are more important issues to the electorate than fox hunting. Why didn't the government spend over 700 hours banning child pornography and reducing abuse in all its forms? Foxes may now be safe but can any politician say that our children are any safer? Why not fight those things that the majority of the electorate are passionate about?
Andy Nicolls, Bristol
Text: This government is anti rural people. They do not care about the issues we face.
The fox ravishes livestock, and nests of kittens, very often without eating any of it. How can people be anti-hunting when the fox has a fair chance to get away, it is an ancient form of pest control, while farmed livestock is reared and then killed in their millions to feed us?
Elly Schierbeck, Chipping Norton
Text: I look forward to peace and quiet in the country.
A Badger, Preston
My family have been hunting for generations, and now this family tradition is to end. This week, two of my few pleasures have been trampled on (hunting and smoking). So what's next? A ban on fishing? Fish have feelings too you know!
Lord Swain, Worsley
A minority of people steal, mug or break the law in many other ways. Are we to respect their human rights also and repeal all laws and have a lawless state?
Mark Davey, Ipswich
Security following the Iraq war
Audience question: President Chirac has said the Iraq war has made the world a more dangerous place. Does the panel agree?
What do all the superpowers today and in the past have in common? They do not consider the poor and the needy with a universal system for mankind. Therefore soon the superpower today will be wiped out if they continue to invade the countries they desire.
Ayaz Bachcha, Ilford
If George Bush Senior hadn't called a halt to finishing the conflict in Iraq/Kuwait there would have been no need to get rid of Saddam Hussein and the world would have been a safer place today.
Bill McPhie, Glasgow
Text: Wake up people. So long as humans have opposable finger and thumb we'll be waging war on each other.
Text: Iraq by now should have been a better and safer place to live in if the Iraqis are not harbouring foreign fighters that are destroying their country.
When Saddam Hussein was in power, we knew who the enemy was and where he was. Now, we can't identify who the enemies are or where they are.
Christina Zaldua, Harrow
Text: It's OK to kill people of Iraq but an offence to kill a fox.
Why are we wasting time talking about Iraq again? New Labour have had their day - the voters will do the talking next year...
Text: Come on Greg Dyke. Let's hear the full story.
The world without Saddam is a better place but that is a vague statement. The world is a more dangerous place now because Tony and George did the right thing in the wrong way and that has led to chaos.
Theophilus Appah, Croydon
Text: It became much more dangerous when Bush was re-elected!
We went to war because Tony said there were WMDs. Please say we went to war on the wrong premis! Then let's move on! No wonder, in a wonderfully free country, we no longer want to vote. What a shameful state of affairs.
Text: Be quiet Gweg Dyke. You weally are widiculous.
I want to ask the panellists how many Iraqis have died since the invasion of Iraq? How many Americans died? How many British? I am sure they will know the number of Americans and British dead but not Iraqis. That says it all!
Text: Can anyone tell me when the French ever came to our aid?
Mr Bradshaw talks about democracy and human rights making the world safer, and the need to look forward. I recommend that he look outside his Blairite visions of democracy and read a book entitled the Search for Arab Democracy by Dr Larbi Sadiki, a lecturer at the University of Exeter. Then he may be more enlightened in ways of looking forward through democratic dialogue.
Simon Westbury, London
Text: We were misled - the most disgraceful con of all time.
Can someone ask why, if it's now commonly accepted that the government was wrong and lied about the WMDs, why Greg Dyke and his friend haven't got their jobs back? And, subsequently, why government heads haven't rolled?
Adam Cox, Putney
Text: Chirac is a hypocrite and Brit-hater! What about his South Pacific nuclear testing against world opinion?!
The US and Tony Blair have made this world very unsafe. We now have four more years of utter terror - Bush has nothing to lose, he can do whatever he wants - now that is terrifying.
Chris Amos, Bolton
Text: Give the people of Iraq what they really want: an end to their slaughter.
Text: The world is more dangerous because it has been shown it is politically feasible to ignore the UN.
Invading Iraq in itself has not made the world less safe. It is the media coverage of the war. Terrorist cells have learnt an invaluable lesson on how to play on Western public opinion through their many hostage takings and killings.
Olugbenga Ogunbode, Cambridge
Text: George Bush and Tony Blair have now got their own Vietnam. In Iraq.
Text: Democracy is a human right. It should be imposed everywhere at any cost.
Text: Maybe if Sept 11 had happened here, we wouldn't be so liberal in our views of Saddam Hussein.
Text: World was safer but not better.
Audience question: Should Michael Howard have sacked Boris Johnson?
An excellent Question Time with an excellent panel. So many things to comment on but I'd like to take one of the more trivial ones this time. Why would Michael Howard ask Boris Johnson if press reports of an affair were true, only to sack him afterwards for not being honest? Doesn't this mean Howard knew the answer already? If so, what's the motitivation to ask the question? Strange.
Mike, UK ex-pat, Malaysia
Bring back Greg and Boris and sack Tony!
Text: Did Howard say to Boris: "Have I got bad news for you"?
The attitude of the panel and audience to the misdemeanours of Boris Johnson spoke volumes as to the morality prevailing in this country. The fact that he lied to his wife and cheated her cut no ice with those present. Instead they focussed on the clownish buffoonery of Mr Johnson. When in business I found that virtually without exception men who cheated on their wives could not be relied upon to conduct their business dealings with honesty and integrity. The same, I believe, applies in politics.
Kenneth Herman, Somerton, Somerset
Text: Michael Howard is jealous of Boris. Why else would he pick on him over such stupid things? Go Boris!
C Ellis, Kent
The Tory Party won't survive by copying the anti-family policies of their Lab-Lib opponents. If politicians cannot be trusted in their private lives how can we trust them in their public role? I want leaders I can respect.
Text: Boris for PM.
Hang on, this man had an affair and thought that as a politician he was not accountable for this. It has to do with us: this public pay his wages and he is a figure in the public domain. Boris - live by the sword, fall by the sword (and words are mightier than the sword).
Sharon Jardine, Widnes
Text: Boris Johnson should have sacked Michael Howard
Text: Poor Boris. You can't speak your mind these days. Freedom of speech is clearly dead.
Not a single panellist or audience member, as far as I could see, said a word in favour of fidelity and trustworthiness in marriage. I have no idea of the nature of his relationship with his wife, or how she feels about the matter, but how do you suppose all this publicity (which he must have known he was running the risk of incurring) has affected his four young children?
Text: Boris should be banished to the "celebrities jungle"!
John Harold, Ipswich
Text: So. If Boris told lies and was fired then Tony Blair should do the honourable thing and go now.
Boris Johnson is not the first politician to have an affair, nor is he the first to lie. Robin Cook wasn't sacked for his affair. Tony Blair and his government lied over Iraq and they are still there.
As for the comments in the Spectator, the panel and audience forgot they were written by another person, not Boris.
Tricia Roberts, London
Text: Best question yet. Of course Boris shouldn't have gone. Now I know the Tories won't get in next May.
Text: Boris is greatly missed.
Text: Boris's best line: I couldn't fail to disagree less. I still haven't got my head around that one.
Spanish football supporters
Audience question: Do you think England should have shown the Spanish supporters the red card and walked off last night?
Can anyone imagine what would happen if the scale of the racist chants in the Spain vs England game were ever to be heard at say the Wimbledon tennis championship or indeed the Olympics? I'm sure the action would be immediate, brutal and effective. Why is football culture still so complacent about racism?
England should have walked off last night.
The question was not answered adequately by reference to how "good" things are now for black players in England. Should we not be trying to set an example to the Spanish that we don't tolerate it at home and we won't tolerate it abroad? Or is it the football "business", not morals, that wins the game?
Sue Francis, Leeds
Text: England should get their own glass grandstand in order first.
My friends and I watched the England/Spain match last night. We noticed that the "racists" seemed to be coming from directly under the commentary position, thus ensuring that they would be picked up on the microphones. We also noted that only one black player was subjected to this "abuse" which is odd behaviour for racists. We have speculated that this whole incident was a stage managed episode to keep racism in the press. Do the panel think this is possible and if so, would they like to speculate about why it might be done?
George Rolph, Bromley
Text: They could boo me and chant monkey noises all they want if I was on 50k a week. Sticks and stones!!
Spain is not the first country to have racist supporters. I don't understand why such a fuss is being made. Unless the press is trying to use it to knock one rival out of the Olympic bid. Spain held the Olympics a few years ago and there were no reports of racism that I can remember. You can't say the behaviour of British supporters has been exemplary in the past.
Tricia Roberts, London
Text: Fifa should ban any national team where such incidents happen.
England fans spew racist bile about Turks and other minorities at every away game. It's hypocrisy.
David, Covent Garden
Boris Johnson should have led the England team off the pitch when no WMD were found
Jimmy McDonald, Stranraer
General comments on the programme
David Dimbleby should obtain the views of all of the panellists before going to the audience otherwise the audience have only a limited number of opinions to respond to.
I watch Question Time regularly every week and think it is excellent. I do wish it was on for two hours instead of just the one!
David Miller, Glasgow
I have to respond to Michael Fisher's contribution. To say that the panels favour the right wing is beyond belief. Last night's included Ben Bradshaw (Labour), Jenny "I feel sympathy for suicide bombers" Tonge (LD) and Greg "Labour Donor" Dyke. Set against this were two from the right. Biased against the left indeed.
andrew Myles, Edinburgh
Another interesting programme, chaired by David Dimbleby in his usual urbane way. Tim Yeo came across as the most balanced, humorous and intelligent of the panellists.
Philip Godfrey, London
Again an unbalanced panel in the favour of the left. Jenny - I feel sympathy for suicide bombers - Tonge, combined with Greg - I presided over a leftist BBC campaign to discredit Tony Blair - Dyke. Let's be honest, the guy from the Countryside Alliance wasn't really invited to talk about fox hunting, but because he could be assured to make negative comments about Tony Blair when the topic of Iraq came up.
Why was there no representative (or equivalent) from the League Against Cruel Sports? And although around 70% of the population agree with banning fox hunting, your "representative" audience was very biased towards the Countryside Alliance and I've noticed recently that your panel is becoming more and more right wing as the series goes on.
Martin Fisher, England
Could the BBC please register the domain www.dumdedumdedum.co.uk that David Dimbleby regularly promotes on Question Time, as it is not currently accessible?
Steven Levitt, Cambridge
Your cameraman is clearly deeply in love with Ben Bradshaw. Throughout Question Time we were treated to an unending display of Little Ben, whether he was answering the question or not. Such devotion is very touching but a little wearisome to those of us who definitely are not besotted with Little Ben.
Anthony Back, Wellington, Telford
Greg Dyke for PM. I believe he needs a new job!
This evening, why is the camera concentrating on Ben Bradshaw's face a huge amount more than any of the other members of the panel? He is nodding his head vertically and horizontally without any relevance to what is being said, like one of those dogs you see on the back sill of people's cars, at the same time having nothing to contribute to the debate except the spin we've heard for years from the Labour Party.
Janey Hay, Stockton on Tees
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