Find out what you had to say about Question Time on Thursday, 23 March, 2006 from Ipswich.
The topics discussed were:
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:
Audience question: Do the panellists believe that Muslim schoolgirls have a human right to wear full Islamic dress if they choose to?
This jilbab issue goes to the heart of race relations in this country. This school, in consultation with the Muslim community came to a consensus about school uniform. That says to reasonable people that in intent and outcome, the school had been sensitive to wishes of the Muslim community. Is the compromise reached for Muslim girls so unacceptable and only the jilbab will do for Shabina Begum that she excluded herself from education for two years? That is extreme and a person who indulges in acts like these is an extremist and we should face them down because they give ammo to those who are principally against a multicultural society.
Abi Bilesanmi, Chelmsford, Essex
Someone on the panel compared wearing a jilbab at school to wearing a crucifix, why? Most schools don't allow jewellery of any kind, even a crucifix, so it's an irrelevant argument. The girl in question should be grateful for what compromise the school already offers for its Muslim pupils. My school didn't allow any items expressing my Christian faith to be worn, but I do not feel that my human rights were infringed upon. It just seemed like common sense to me.
No one mentioned the draconian health and safety rules to which schools must now adhere. This would have been a major factor in deciding on the practicalities of designing a school uniform. Also, no one mentioned two of the most important reasons why school uniform is considered a good idea: it gives pupils a sense of belonging to their school, and it also prevents the fashion parade which ensues if pupils can wear whatever they like. The role of money in this second point is far more discriminating than religion.
Judy Barker, Milton Keynes
The issue of tolerance MUST be international - when Christianity is tolerated, with free expression in Arab countries, then we should wholeheartedly agree to accepting Muslim school uniforms (and others) within the United Kingdom education system.
David Mulvagh, Worthing
How do you instill discipline without applying authority over children within a school environment? If they do not learn to follow rules in school how do we expect them to follow society's rules?
Simon Kennedy, Dundee
Text: Uniforms make everyone equal.
Gary B, Uxbridge
Text: The jilbab is fundamental to the Islamic religion and the school should honour this.
Why should any minority group have the right to change the school's rules of uniform? The school sets the uniform standard, if you don't like it, find another school! I agree with Boris.
Jack Calder, Chelmsford
So it's ok for Boris to say a girl cannot wear a long dress but it is ok for him not to brush his hair! Come on Boris, no harm is done by either of you.
Julia Handoll, Bridport
The judge who ruled on the wearing of Islamic dress wears a wig because it is his uniform. When a family joins a school community they accept the rules and norms of that school. We wear uniform in this country for good, well accepted reasons. This girl was encouraged for political reasons.
A Potts, Canterbury
I agreed with the decision in the Shabina Begum case. Being a Muslim woman myself, I think the school was within its rights enforcing its uniform as they had already allowed the modified uniform which adhered to Islamic code of dress. Islam has always taught us to respect and follow the laws of the land we live in as long as they do not go against any Islamic teachings.
Nazia Shah, Middlesex
Text: You should be able to wear what you like so long as it relates to the uniform.
Text: Problems like this show that multi-culturalism brings conflict in itself.
One of the panellists asked what harm is there in the young girl wearing the religious dress. Well I am a student and I would like to wear trainers and what harm am I doing? However, I know the school rules and respect them!
Text: If she wants to wear the jilbab go and live in the Middle East.
Audience question: In the light of recent experience would the panel agree that the longer a party remains in office the more difficult it is to retain its integrity?
I was surprised to see that nobody on the panel was prepared to say: "Yes, let's have state funding for political parties" seeing as this would do something to negate the mistrust felt by the general public towards politicians. It would do this by taking the political parties "out of hoc" to special interests groups and businesses with economic interests in possible future policies. State funding would not amount to much money, and would ensure a return to grass roots politics as politicians returned to debates and interviews on TV, radio and other media formats, which are generally free, as opposed to sound bites and gimmicks in expensive TV and radio adverts which do nothing to further debate.
David Preece, Epsom
£14m loans - where did the money go? Seeing as it was such a surprise to learn about it, are we clear on how the money was spent? Has it all been properly and correctly accounted for?
John Cohen, Epsom
The sooner the Labour Party re-adopts a Benn-style attitude the better for its fundamental principles and core values. Benn is a true Labour man. "New Labour" seems to have forgotten some of the founding values of the Labour movement.
Text: They might not have broken the law, but they are moral scoundrels.
Text: Tony Blair, the Loan Arranger. Hi ho silver, he's away!
As a solution for party funding, why don't the Westminster MPs do what the Scottish Socialists do in the Scottish Parliament. They donate a proportion of their salary to the upkeep of their party. I reckon if MPs had to give half their salary to the party then it would raise around £20m a year. After all if they are committed to their party they should be happy showing it financially as other supporters do.
Michael Duncan, London
Text: There'll be that many peerages soon it will be rare to be a commoner.
Text: Can I have a peerage and pay by direct debit?
Text: They were never loans, merely whitewashed donations.
What happens if the Labour Party can't repay its loans and goes bankrupt? Does the government get repossessed? Do we fall into insolvency and get sold off to the highest bidder?
Simon Tune, Eastbourne
Ode to Tony
(To the tune of how much is that doggie in the window)
How much is that peerage in the window?
With costume in red white and gold
I'll pay you by cash or with my chequebook
So would you consider it sold?
How much is that knighthood in the corner?
With sword and a family crest
I want it; I need it for my pleasure
And also to feather my nest.
We are doing no wrong I assure you
But lets keep it quiet for a while
And if they find out what we're up to
Just give them your award-winning smile.
By Peter Mitchell
Audience question: Does the panel believe the government is really concerned with patient care when despite all the rhetoric and spin the NHS has announced 2,000 redundancies this week?
I am one of the medical consultants on whom some of the NHS money has been spent. I consider myself now to be properly paid for all the work that I previously did for FREE. The extra investment in NHS salaries has merely been playing "catch-up" for past deficiencies. We cannot expect even greater productivity than before - we have always been getting more out of the NHS than we have paid for!
Malcolm Hay, Sherborne
Just to highlight the troubles of the NHS. My daughter is in hospital and it took more than four hours for her to get her antibiotics today and every time we asked a nurse they said they had too much to do. As always, overworked and understaffed.
Clive Read, Swindon
Text: How does the government plan to respond to the current NHS crisis? To ignore it in the budget?
If the management of the hospital trust says that due to bad management, jobs will have to go. Why get rid of the nurses when they are needed. It would be better to get rid of the failing management.
Paul Adams, Gwent
Text: Dump our membership to the EU and raise £800 billion to save the NHS!
I have worked for the ambulance service for the last 31 years and have found recently that patients come last and statistics come first. I am no longer proud to be a member of the health service.
Keith Southward, Cumbria
Why is Labour putting less money into hospitals? It's a joke. I avoid going to my local hospital because it is so dirty and under-run
Daniel Finill, Watford
Text: NHS should stop using consultants. That is where the money is going.
Text: Whichever party you support, the NHS will always be a bottomless bucket.
Text: I'm a knackered midwife. Staff levels are set too low. How can we do the job with even less staff?
Audience question: Without the usual attacks on American foreign policy, George Bush or Tony Blair, what would be your constructive strategy for completing the task and getting the troops out of Iraq?
Don't ask the army to run on less than it is now or lives will be put at risk. It needs more money not less.
Christopher Hodge, Sandwich
Tony Benn says the war in Iraq is illegal. He is wrong of course, since the UN Security Council legalised it after the event in Resolution 1483. But if he thinks it is illegal, why does he not draw the logical conclusion and demand that Saddam Hussein be reinstated as the legitimate president of Iraq?
Michael Petek, Brighton
Text: Pull our troops out and let the Americans sort it out.
Text: British troops will leave Iraq when the Americans tell us to do so.
Patrick, Waltham Abbey
This soldier along with many others is angry and annoyed with the Iraq war! The Iraqis will not learn. We want our lives back.
Text: Iraq is a bigger bottomless pit than the NHS.
Text: You can't bring some troops home. It makes it harder for them left behind-all out or none.
Text: We will not leave Iraq until Blair and co admit they were wrong.
It's well-known that Boris Johnson has developed a reputation for being a joke figure due to great stints on HIGNFY, but I thought this particular edition of Question Time displayed that BoJo is actually very astute and isn't the fool many believe he is.
A highly entertaining edition this week. Is it a coincidence that without a New Labour representative the debate had more integrity and honesty than usual? No wonder Tony Benn is not welcome in New Labour - he has an opinion, is not afraid to say so and doesn't hold back in criticising the lies, deception and corruption of the government.
Tony Benn, the best Prime Minister we never had?
Sir Digby Jones made some good comments, but I would like to remind him that the constituency of Tatton proved that you cannot put up "a sheep in blue" in a safe Tory seat and expect it to get in. Martin Bell overturned a majority of over 22,000 when he defeated sleaze (Hamilton) in what was always regarded as a solid Tory seat. The British public do make their feelings clear at the ballot box, and will do so again in protest at Mr Blair's sleaze.
Margaret Joscelyne, Knutsford
You know, underneath Boris' "I just woke up" haircut is a great politician. I really wish we could make him PM but alas, it will never happen. Compare him to some of the panellists you have on the show and he is a breath of fresh air. His speech about the Iraq war, showing guilt and regret, admitting he was wrong.. he was almost applauded for it and rightly so! Great show tonight.
How wonderful that Harriet Harman dropped out (or was withdrawn) from the programme so that we were able to hear the wisdom of Tony Benn. Perhaps, a scheduled panellist could drop out every week so that Tony Benn can substitute.
Joseph McGowan, New York
"I am waiting for the Labour Party to come into office", Tony Benn remarked on Question Time. As a true socialist parliamentarian all his life, believing passionately in the welfare state, Tony Blair's New Labour Party must be an anathema to him.
Mary Priddey, Totnes
Okay, let's cut to the chase. Does Boris Johnson wear a wig? I could not concentrate on any topics on the show. Me and the family were so totally absorbed by Boris's hairdo, we've just got to know!
Steve Martin, St Germans
It was a lively programme and the presence of Tony Benn always welcome, but surely, Harriet Harman's disgraceful absence would have been better marked with an empty chair or perhaps - in the famous example of Roy Hattersley's similar behaviour on "Have I Got News For You" - the substitution of a tub of lard.
Gerard Eastick, Edinburgh
Have Tony Benn and Boris Johnson on the show again some time soon.
Ben Wilson, Nottingham
This must be the best edition of Question Time for ages. No petty party political arguments but a constructive debate about the issues. Thank goodness there was no government minister spouting the official line. It was also good to see two experts, in Shami Chakrabharti and Digby Jones, on the panel rather than another banal comedian.
Matthew Simpson, Harlow
A lightweight panel with a Teddy Sheringham look-alike and Boris Karloff appearing together for this mind-numbing performance!
Eddie Edmunds, Lowestoft
The title of this programme will soon have to be changed to Unanswered Question Time. What is the point of the audience taking the trouble to pose topical and relevant questions, if the panel spend all their time avoiding the answers? I used to enjoy the programme, which I now find frustrating to watch, as the panel hardly ever give a direct answer to the questions. Mr Dimbleby repeats the questions, as if the audience member was difficult to understand. Why? Let's have some panellists who are prepared to answer questions in future please.
Pete Johnson, London
Good of the BBC to find a hedge backstage to drag Boris through.
Tony Benn a gem as always, made sense, added some humour and stood up against government policy. Boris Johnson said he felt a little "guilty" for voting to go to war. That must go into the Guinness book of records, a politician who felt guilt. And admitted it. David Laws was unusually clear and concise and he came across well. And the other members of the panel added strength; one of the best I have seen.
Nathan P. Bridle, Lincoln, UK
Text: Isn't Boris just great! I love QT when he's on!
Ann Marie, Airdrie
Text: I think someone should give Boris a loan for a haircut.
One has to wonder if Boris had a close encounter with some kind of hedge shortly before the show. Seeing as Cameron is getting slightly old (already!) I think Boris would be a great replacement!
Mark Randall, Sheffield
Shami Chakrabati - get this woman off the panel. Every time I hear her she drives me mad. By giving in to these minority groups all the time she is driving the majority towards the right and creating a divide between all she claims to want to help.
John B, Steyning
Best show in ages. Good to see Tony Benn back on form. Shami for PM!
Ali McNab, Stirling
Text: Tony Benn is never happier than when he is running down his own party.
A socialist, a capitalist, a libertarian, a liberal and a Tory. All were either eloquent, passionate or eccentric and all can be respected. A representative and highly competent panel. More of this please!
Text: At least Gordon never put VAT on Peruvian earthworms.
Text: Please, no more stupid jokes at our expense.
A Peruvian Earthworm, Peru
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