Find out what you had to say about Schools Question Time on Thursday, 30 June, 2005, from Manchester.
The topics discussed were:
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:
Audience question: Does the panel feel that Asbos are addressing the cause of anti-social behaviour or are they just a political quick-fix?
The Manchester panel showed no appreciation of the problems that yobs cause ordinary people. All we heard was criticism of Asbos. No solutions were offered, apart from the usual get-out of "looking into the causes of anti-social behaviour". I suggest the panellists read the letters in the Manchester Metro to see what people living with these problems think. Asbos may be imperfect but they are giving relief to the victims.
J Warwick, Stockport
We need child catchers. We also need the law to be changed so that all children can be imprisoned for criminal damage, assault and other offences. Society gives children and childhood far too much importance.
Vanessa Campbell, Derby
Text: Asbos are a waste of time and effort. The hooligans will collect them as a badge of honour.
Bullying in the home in turn causes bullying at school and on the street. This in turn causes young people to fight back at authority for not doing enough to protect their human rights.
April Martin, Derby
Text: Low self esteem causes anti social behaviour.
Kenny Ross, Dunfermline
Asbos don't work, most teenagers break them and they would enjoy bragging about them at school as it would give them a buzz. Bring back capital punishment and give them a hiding and they won't do it again.
Text: Asbos are a waste of time and are given out too much.
David, East Yorkshire
They always bring it back to the parents but our hands have been tied. We can't even give our children a good hiding for mouthing off at the neighbours without being charged with abuse. If we still had the right to discipline our kids maybe things would be different
Judith Adams, Castle Cary
Text: Ferry should have an Asbo.
I'm a serving police officer. In relation to Asbos they are pushed by Government and are not always supported by rank and file officers. Crime and its affect is not due to a lack of respect but due to lack of consequence. Officers will use the Queen's Laws to deter and deal with crime, the CPS need to try the difficult cases not just the ones they think they can win and the courts need to deliver the proper punishments.
Mike Dunn, Eastbourne, Sussex
Text: Young people need more advice and help, not just punishment.
Text: We are just too soft in this country now we are paying the price.
Text: Asbos are insane. They criminalise perfectly legal acts. Why not attempt to prosecute when these kids actually break the law.
Text: Asbos can make life bearable for ordinary people.
The tabloid press has to take a large amount of responsibility for anti-social behaviour. They seem hell bent on undermining authority rather than simply reporting the news impartially. This has, in my opinion, extended itself giving some individuals the myth that they can have an opinion on the law.
Tim Philips, London
Protesting at Parliament
Audience question: Is the restriction of protest around Parliament an infringement of civil rights?
Tony Benn said that Otis Ferry should accept the will of Parliament over fox hunting. On that basis I take it he has no complaints about the war in Iraq, the protest exclusion zone, poll tax or any other laws passed by Parliament.
Text: Are we supposed to demonstrate by proxy?
Protesters are getting steadily more and more violent because they feel their comments are not heard. Why do the panel think Parliament are so far adrift from the public points of view?
Jon Baggaley, Northampton
It is a total infringement of our rights to protest and our freedom of speech. I have never protested outside the House, but this act is making me consider it.
Nicola Meadley, Twickenham
Text: The House of Commons could be protected. But politicians don't want to protect us on the streets.
I remember not being within a great area of Westminster when Mrs Thatcher was in power. Has everyone on the panel forgotten this? I do disagree with this but it's not the first time its been used. I'm ashamed that the Labour Party is doing this, being a life long supporter of the party
Perryn Biggs, Oswestry
Text: The actions of idiots like "Otis" leaves Parliament no choice.
The one place you should protest is outside the buildings of government, if anywhere it is the only place you can't ban protesting.
Adam Constantine, London
Did not Voltaire say "I disagree with what you say but I will defend with my life the right for you to say it?" The idea of having an exclusion zone is repugnant.
Tim Fleck, Maidstone
Text: This country is fast becoming a dictatorship state and the majority of people are selfish and think of nobody but themselves.
Well said Tony Benn, as usual. If anyone is in any doubt about us becoming a police state, take a trip up to Perthshire after Sunday and look out for road blocks, security fencing and spies in the sky that make the Gleneagles holiday camp look like Colditz, and vice versa.
Text: No protests ... it smacks of Mugabe's regime.
I support the right to protest but I do not think that the BBC should be giving publicity to people like Otis Ferry. This is not what I pay my licence fee for.
C Saville, Peterborough
I think that we should all have a right to protest in a peaceful way expressing our thoughts and views. I am saddened to see barriers around the Houses of Parliament but I do think they are a necessary obstacle to be borne for security reasons. I do agree that if politicians listened to the views of all the British people, people would not need to protest so strongly to get their voices heard.
Steve Fuller, East Sussex
If I had stormed the House of Commons in the name of "Justice for Fathers" or in protest to war, would I have been considered "brave" and been allowed to speak on Question Time as a guest? I don't think so! It's not what you know it's who you know.
Rebecca Russell, Birmingham
Isn't there a danger that the new exclusion zone around Parliament could possibly become a future Tiananmen square with protesters being shot and attacked by armed police and other forces. Shouldn't we be ashamed that our government feels justified in stepping back into the dark ages and becoming no better than how China was at that time? How can we justify ourselves when China is a country that is trying to throw off its totalitarian image and become acceptable?
Margaret Hales, Bristol
Africa debt relief
Audience question: How can Africa ensure that future debt relief isn't squandered on fleets of Mercedes?
For the lady who is starting up a link with a town in northern Ghana: Plymouth has had a link with Sekondi-Takoradi in Ghana for two years now. We have several school links, a hospital link, a £50,000 joint tourism bid, a sports link (Plymouth Argyle groundsman has just hosted the groundsman from S-T's new football stadium for three weeks' work experience), and Plymouth's Theatre Royal is doing an exchange this summer involving 24 youngsters from both cities in performing A Midsummer Night's Dream in Plymouth and Sekondi. It would be very interesting to meet up and talk about the benefits and pitfalls of linking.
Pat Frean, Plymouth
I noticed how Tony Benn on Question time looked rather uncomfortable and refused to comment on a point put to him, after launching into the usual left-wing diatribe about how the British pillaged and exploited Africa and had exported 2 million (?) slaves to America. Some one made the point that the British actually stopped slavery (which had existed for hundreds of years and the main traders were African). Other points that could have embarrassed him was that during "exploitation", the British built infrastructure and started to provide modern amenities - education, medicine, law and order etc.
I think there is a good argument that in general the Africans were better off under Empirical control than they have been since independence. One thing is for sure: the British were not "big, bad wolves" as history is being rewritten by left wing luminaries to portray!
Jack Biggs, Weymouth, Dorset
Tony Benn MP was right to say the West exploited and oppressed Africa shamefully, that is a historic fact. It is wrong to surmise from that the West therefore has no right to preach to Africa on good governance, democracy, etc. Dictators like Robert Mugabe have destroyed Zimbabwe's once promising economy, he has rigged elections repeatedly, brutally silenced all his critics and has ruthless crashed the very soul of that nation.
One of the panellists said Zimbabwe should pretend there is oil in the country and Britain and USA would be there to rescue the people from a brutal dictator like a shot! A cynical remark but it does illustrate the point nonetheless: the West has shown that it will risk all to defend the fundamental risks of its citizens and those of its neighbours. This is closely followed by national economic or strategic interests. The human rights of those from poor third world countries come a poor third.
Wilbert Mukori (Black Zimbabwean), Stockport
Unless an artist is contracted to an African label most of the profits from selling music will end up in the hands of wealthy businesses in the west. The music industry plunders Africa in the same way that colonial powers and multinational companies exploited natural resources.
Rob Ryan, Castle Douglas
Text: Africa needs trade restrictions lifting and the chance of fair trade.
J H, Mossley
I think, as an African, that what the continent needs is not aid but trade and fair trade at that. There are a lot of success stories in Africa that the media could help bring to the fore but are just not interested. We seem to be more interested in the evil of the continent rather than the good. Ghana, Botswana, South Africa and others, are the ones we should be talking about not Zimbabwe.
Daniel J Dwamena, Bristol
Text: An obese Europe lecturing Africa. We are hypocrites.
Economic development is the key to democracy in Africa, as our history has shown; our democracy was built on the backs of the working classes.
Text: G8 - and what about poverty in the UK?
Text: Africa's problems are of Africa's making since independence, Zimbabwe being a blinding example.
Would like to point out that debt relief for Africa would not be sufficient unless fair trade is introduced. For instance why is it that American rice being sold in African countries like Uganda is cheaper than the locally produced rice, unless of course the American rice is heavily subsidised?
Edrisa, Croydon, Greater London
Text: Africa is a continent, not a country! You cannot count it as one nation.
Jessica McCabe, Newcastle
Text: Twenty years since Live Aid and nothing has changed. A change of tactics is needed.
Text: We will pour any amount of money into Africa to prop up capitalism.
Text: Africa will always be a continent of greed and tribalism. The common people have no chance, no matter how much money we send.
Text: Multinational companies MUST give in order for any progress to be made.
Text: Trade fairly and sustainably, don't throw food and/or money.
Text: This is just Geldof on a nostalgia buzz.
I don't mean to sound negative towards Africa, but all the money pledged by Blair could be put to better use in our own country, heaven knows we need more police, schools etc.
Darren Pilley, Cheshire
Text: Will any of the money from the G8 be used to alleviate poverty in Britain, and will Mr Brown grant debt relief to the people in this country?
Text: If $78bn of aid did so little last year, what difference will Live 8 make?
Text: We can't fix our own problems never mind Africa.
Sir Bob Geldof claims, 20 years after the Live Aid concert, things are just as bad in Africa. Then why does he want the British people to empty their pockets again, throwing good money after bad? Surely the money could be used to put our own house in order, such as better funding of UK based charities. Too much money vanishes from the British economy into the bottomless pit of African corruption.
David Hanson, Sunderland
Hats off to Tony Benn for his brave comments. Never before have I heard somebody in this country reminding us of the history of how the "rich countries" became rich by robbing Africa and Asia. Also how democracy and human rights were smothered in these places for long years by these rich countries who now eloquently proclaim themselves as guardians of democracy and human rights. Let us also not celebrate war which kills millions of innocent children and people, but celebrate and encourage peace and peace-makers.
Archana Soman, Cambridge
I think what Bob Geldof is doing is remarkable. Instead of thinking about the situation in Africa, he's doing something about it. I hope that the G8 countries will cancel the debt in Africa. What the G8 countries need to do is set up a committee of people to oversee that the money that is allocated to Africa is used correctly. It's not an easy task, but I'm sure with a little patience and a lot of understanding it can be done. If it's possible, I would love to be part of said committee, I think a lot of young people would enjoy the experience of working with government leaders, and to have an understanding of how important it is to listen and understand what has been going on for the past 20 years.
Jeanne Hodgson, Montreal, Canada
Audience question: Does the panel feel that the decision to re-enact the Battle of Trafalgar with a blue and red team is a sign of political correctness gone mad?
Tony Benn missed the point over the Trafalgar celebrations, and with his reference to similar events on World War 2 anniversaries. These weren't "celebrations of war" as he labelled them. They were celebrations of remarkable successes at defending our country and the values Tony Benn said he holds dear against violent external attack. Of course we should honour such achievements in our history and those who played an important part in them.
Stuart Coster, London
Text: Vive la difference!
With respect, I would say that the panel missed a key point on this. The international naval celebration in Portsmouth was not commemorating the British victory at Trafalgar but the life and genius of the greatest naval leader ever, Nelson. He was a unique seaman, hero, and tactician and, like Napoleon, is respected internationally.
Jeremy Young, Tonbridge
Text: Without Trafalgar we'd be speaking French!
Geoff Swanney, Cleethorpes
Text: God forbid that we ever upset the French.
Text: We won they lost, God bless NELSON!
I was astonished to hear Mr Dimbleby refer to the Battle of Trafalgar as a battle between England and France. Such ignorance is unforgivable particularly when the programme involved school children. I cannot furnish him with percentages of nationalities involved but I do know that the helmsman on Nelson's ship came from the Island of Lewis. English? The usual response is that we Scots are simply being petty. I trust that Mr Dimbleby will not stoop to use this as an excuse for his error. Historical accuracy is important - something that our leaders have yet to learn.
Neil MacGillivray, Edinburgh
Manchester United protests
Audience question: Were protests outside Old Trafford last night too drastic - should Malcolm Glazer be accepted with open arms?
Text: No-one cares about Man U!
Text: Surely Manchester disunited.
Text: I wish Man Utd fans would realise no one else cares about Glazer.
Text: Soccer is now a business more than a "sport".
John H, Ipswich
Text: Man Utd are paying the price of premier football's slide from a sport to a business.
Audience question: If Parliament was the Big Brother house who would the panellists evict?
Text: George Galloway should be evicted from the House of Commons!
General comments on the programme
After being very disappointed with previous Question Time shows I was really impressed with this one. The fact that you hadn't invited Tony Benn on the show for a while is criminal. This man demonstrates and illustrates what politics is all about. He was honest, frank and was not afraid to speak it how it is. While the others thought about saying things, he taught them a lesson on how to a be a real people's politician. Why he is not prime minister I don't know. In order for Britain to progress and move on it has to put its hand up and admit to its guilty past (Africa) instead of wiping history. When Tony Benn made his speech on Africa, I finally shed my first tears.
Yemi Bello, London
This is the MOST entertaining Question Time - full, in-depth analysis of issues. I just love it.
Perhaps the regular adult producers of the show could learn a thing or two from the schools winners. Last night's edition of the show was one of the best I have seen. The debate was good - not too much point-scoring regarding party politics, and the range of questions covered seemed to be broader than usual. It didn't get bogged down, but moved along at a good pace. While not always agreeing with Tony Benn he is so entertaining I think he should be a panellist every week. Well done to the schools - the programme was a credit to you.
Sarah Taylor, Mold
I have full respect for Mr Tony Benn who brings tremendous experience and depth of analysis to the discussion. His last comment was simply amazing! More Mr Tony Benn please!
What a contrast of panellists. Otis Ferry an embarrassment and hypocrite; Tony Benn one of the greatest men in modern history.
A very enjoyable programme. Let these youngsters produce it permanently. The choice of Otis Ferry was an inspired one, as he appears to be a polite, serious, principled young man fighting for his convictions, not the thug portrayed by the media.
That was the worst edition of Question time I have ever seen. The panellists were truly terrible and the audience added nothing to the discussion (if that's what it could be called).
Lembit Opik never stops trying to ingratiate himself with the yoof of today.
Otis Ferry. Poor boy. Clearly out of his depth here.
June Sarpong. Now June had the media presence Otis lacked, but crikey, talk about vacuous, opinionless, contradictory conversation.
Justine Greening: This panellist just came across as green and inexperienced. How many times can you mention more police on the streets without answering any questions properly.
Tony Benn. Master of rhetoric and rabble rousing, but hopelessly devoted to the old left and full of bitter hatred of all private enterprise. His outburst at Otis was just nasty. Same opinions, same old nonsense. Change the record, Tony, or move to Cuba.
Anyway, let's get sensible and give control back to the seasoned old professionals who know a good panel when they see one.
Pat Willis, London
Brilliant end to the programme - can we have Richard Tyler who played the piano back as a permanent feature!
Andrew Robinson, London
Wow! That was one the best Question Time editions in a long while. Congratulations and thanks to all the schools and students who organised it.
Steve, Hackney, London
Good topics for debate. Just don't understand why the panel had absolutely nobody from the government to speak on them. You can't exactly count Tony Benn as a New Labour representative - I wanted to see someone squirm over Blair's efforts to abolish free speech!
I personally think Otis Ferry is a living legend, hang in there old boy the hunting bill will be repealed!
Text: Tony Benn should be Prime Minister, in a "ministry of all the talents".
Text: Otis Ferry displayed total disrespect for democracy. Why is he there?
Ms Roberts, Sunderland
The BBC should not be providing a platform to anti-democratic terrorists such as Otis Ferry!
Ken Reid, Barnet
Wow! That was one the best Question Time editions in a long while. Congratulations and thanks to all the schools and students who organised it.
Steve, Hackney, London
Text: Otis Ferry is a legend. Have him on more often.
How refreshing! No political toadies - only good sense - please keep this assortment of panellists - it's frankly embarrassing to have Labour and Conservative MPs on the panel when all they are doing is looking at their backs. Perhaps we need the young producers every week!!!
Steve Muddiman, Knutsford
Text: Well done Tony. Put that Ferry idiot in his place! Go Tony
Great Question Time, most of the hidden answers being exposed.
Text: Otis Ferry shouldn't get into a battle of wits with Tony Benn 'cos he's obviously unarmed!
Tony Benn is one of the reasons why Labour were so unelectable! Every question seems to relate back to either the US or globalisation no matter what it is. Change the record Tony!
Text: Otis Ferry demonstrated for a just cause. Good for him.
Roz, West Midlands
Tony Benn never changes, he blames all of the world ills, Africa included on the British colonial past.
Mark Lockyer, Somerset
Text: Otis Ferry is the most handsome person I have seen in every respect. He means well and good on him.
Text: Tony Benn is a hero. The only politician to listen answer and make sense. Long live Tony.
Sarah Jones, Melton Mowbray
Text: The problem with this country, and many others, is that Tony Benn was never PM. He's worth a million Tony Blairs.
After hearing incisive questions, good humour and thorough sportsmanship in tonight's Question Time, why don't you give every episode to our young people, and let the old people do an annual special? (I'm 33 - I know my place!)
Steve Rowett, London
I very strongly disapprove of Otis Ferry having been invited to the panel. He is only known for being one of the gang who disrupted the House of Commons in an extremely threatening manner. I understand that the media singled him out from the others of the gang because he is the son of a little-known musician. What message does inviting him to the panel send out to other irresponsible people? Disrupt Parliament and the BBC will invite you to have your say on Question Time.
Peter Webb, Melton, Suffolk
That leading citizen of cloud cuckoo, Tony Benn was joined by other members of the panel in a grand fest of our police state, conspiracy theories, the evil multi nationals, uncle Tom Cobley and all. There are many oppressive regimes in the world, but this country is certainly NOT one of them. It is probably too late for Tony to get back in the real world, but as for the other panellists there may be still hope.
Kenneth Herman, Somerset
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