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Thursday, 3 May, 2001, 13:13 GMT 14:13 UK
May 3, Southampton
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Audience question: At Tuesday's anti-capitalist demonstrations a couple of thousand of us were penned in at Oxford Circus for over seven hours. Does the panel believe that the police have the right to imprison peaceful protesters? You said:
The tactic used seemed to be the most effective way of preventing serious disorder. Instead of blaming the police for being heavy-handed perhaps those at the demonstration should co-operate more. Perhaps by entering into sensible negotiations peaceful protest could have been achieved.
Hm Alex Chatwin, do you really think these people choose to live in a capitalist nation? Have another think about it - what other choice do they have? The reason they choose May Day to have a peaceful protest is that May Day is traditionally a day for the little people to march and have their say. This was not a cunning little plan, this was a protest that people of Britain are supposed to have a right to. There's a lot of problems in this world. If the goverment will not ask questions or do anything about them who will?
If these people are so against capitalism, why
I worry when I see the police hitting people - their job is to arrest people and the court decides on the punishment.
The majority of the UK knew violence was expected. So did the MAJORITY of these so-called protesters. That's why they all turned up! The police should not only have kept them penned in, (well done) but they should have water cannoned them and shipped them off to a war torn Balkan state to make room for some poor asylum seeker, who deserves the right to life.
Without wanting in any way to condone violent protest I just had to correct Mark Oaten on something that I had hoped someone in the studio audience would pick up. Mr Oaten used the Jubilee 2000 campaign as the model of a successful peaceful protest. This is not entirely true. So far only 27% of the debt asked for has been cancelled, and campaigning continues under the name of Drop the Debt.
I believe that the police were too heavy-handed during the demonstration, and trapping people for seven hours was a ploy intent on causing trouble. It would be unreasonable to expect anybody to stay calm after being pinned in one spot for over seven hours. The scaremongering of the police prior to the demonstration added to the problem, many average people who felt strongly about the subjects were scared away from attending, resulting in a concentration of the more extreme elements.
I didn't realise that it was incumbent on the authorities to provide toilet facilities etc for people, some of whom were intent on disrupting the smooth working of London (if that has ever been a possibility). Perhaps we could provide tea and cucumber sandwiches next year.
The anti-globalisation protesters represent the views of thousands of people like myself who agree with their views but are unable to make our own presence felt, due to jobs, family, or other social constraints. Like the anti-road protesters and the pro-Tibet protesters, they also receive an inordinate amount of 'policing'. For me the equation is simple - protest about something which involves or adversely affects big business and finance, expect a big police crackdown. I feel sorry for the conscientious policemen who must know that they are being used as political tools.
The police have incited the media over the May Day celebrations. Initially they scared people from going by threatening violence and during it they created violence by hemming the protestors in for seven hours. This at least, may have achieved the overall aim of taking attention away from the aims of the protest, and associating the aims with mindless violence, thereby discrediting them.
Might is not always right, whatever side you're on and, while I have no wish to see violence on London's streets I'd rather see the police serving the community than indulging in what looked remarkably like a rather wasteful counter-demonstration.
The police presence in London was an excessive expression of state power. The spectacle a reminder to us all that capitalism depends upon the fear of the use of force, in order to sustain its uneven rates of growth, locally and globally.
E Reid sounds like more of a thug than an anti-capitalist. Most protesters do actually have a job, or are students. The police response was repressive. I thought there was a right to protest - obviously not. The truth is the powers that be are scared of anti-capitalist protests, not because of a few smashed windows, but because we are right!
If Chris Smith will 'defend the right to protest with his life' does he then not feel that that those who were peaceful until penned in had a right to defend their rights to protest.
The panel seemed to support the right to protest but none of them tackled the issue of none violent protesters being penned in with the minority of violent protesters. None of them answered the point that the violence happened as result of the penning in and not because of it. If everyone at a football match were enclosed in the same pen as a few hooligans the likes of Chris Smith would be screaming blue murder. It is all an attempt by the establishment to avoid the issues.
Not one of the panel answered the question about May Day ie whether the police action was legal, nor why the police could not just have arrested those committing violent acts. If it were not for the anticipated violence, many radio discussions about globalisation would not have taken place.
I didn't realise people who ate veggie burgers and had bought red hair dye were thugs. I dyed my hair red for red nose day once and now I feel just awful. Thank you for enlightening us sir or madam.
I see on the website other viewers find we are too soft on protesters, yet as anyone like myself who has taken part in peaceful demonstrations, where no violence has occurred there is always a small element of provocation from the police.
It seems that like the panel, the majority of posters on this board would rather the real issues of the May Day protest didn't come to light. What are they scared of?
I fear we are about to hear the same old rhetoric about anti-globalisation protesters just being hooligans and terrorists. What's the betting that none of the panellists will want to enter into a debate about the behaviour of British companies in the developing world?
There may be valid arguments against global capitalism, but yob culture and mindless violence are not the answer. Such measures should be properly policed and controlled. Britain is too "namby pamby" and should take a lesson from other European countries. Tolerance is OK, but thugs smashing shop windows is not.
If the anti-capitalist thugs are so against monetary gain then they should stop collecting their giros and leave the tax-payers' money for education and health. Of course if they couldn't sponge off the tax-payer where would they get the money for veggie-burgers, nose rings, Rizlas and red hair dye.
Where was the water cannon? Seriously, the police did very well and should have been a little tougher.
Since Seattle police forces have shifted their tactics from a violently reactive pose to a violently preventive one. The overall strategy is clear - prevent public protest before it starts. Targeted protests are those which strike most directly at the foundations of political and economic power. Whether the protesters are non-violent or violent has no correlation to the police response.
What a load of rubbish some of the audience have come out with.
Last year the police stood back and the violent minority went to work. What else were the police to do this year? The right to protest comes with a responsibility to the rule of law. If those who protest don't want the police to prevent the violent minority they should sort their own house out and get rid of those intent on violence.
A small number of people with an even smaller collective IQ will always seek to ruin things with the use of violence to achieve their aims. Until this faction of society is controlled, there is no possibility for large-scale peaceful protests. Small groups will always ruin things for the masses.
Who's to blame for the Wembley fiasco?
Audience question: Originally the new Wembley project was going to cost twice that of the Olympic stadium in Sydney, now it looks as if it won't be built at all. With football being such an important part of English culture who's to blame for this fiasco? You said:
The problem with the national football stadium is one that has become increasingly common in this country. It is the south of Watford syndrome. Let the people of Birmingham show you how it should be done and stop messing about in sad old London.
I believe that the people of Britain should not have alowed the FA to get away with knocking it down. There has been much debate about the Millenium Dome. What greater symbol to the 20th century can there be then Wembley? If football needs to be played in a new stadium, then let it happen elsewhere. The towers are historically important (are they not listed?). It is a People's Stadium for a People's Century. When can we have it back?
Why is it that other countries can manage to build major national structures without the types of problems that beset British ones? Doesn't this simply reflect the general malaise that prevails with most of our public infrastructure? As usual it is the lack of long term vision, motivation and leadership from government that is the root cause of these problems.
I think the FA should be responsible for the mess they find themselves in. They were very ambitious in proposing such large amounts of money they think was necessary for erecting the kind of structure they had in mind. I think Adam Crosier should resign for the way he has handled the whole affair. Why was Ken Bates sacked? Funnily their new man cannot convince sponsors to come up with the money. Why does the government have to take all the flak for their inefficiency.
The reason the Wembley Stadium project has failed is because the LABOUR Brent Council imposed a condition on the planning consent that the developers pay about £150m towards development of the surrounding depressed area, thus making the project economically unviable. By doing so they hoped to milk the project for their own ends, and destroyed it - such is the deviousness, greed and stupidity of NEW LABOUR.
If Bob Murray, Chairman of Sunderland AFC, can build the magnificent Stadium of Light for less than £30m, how can the alleged costs of £650m for the new national stadium possibly be justified?
Is it not possible to convert the Dome into a national stadium?
The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff is the best Stadium in Europe for football and rugby. It's even got a new playing surface. It proves that if you add athletics, you distance the crowd and you remove atmosphere.
Why not levy a tax on football transfers which would be used for projects such as the national stadium. The tax need not be a government one ie it could be levied by the FA.
I think the government should fully fund a COMPLETE stadium with public money and then they can reap all the profits thus assisting the taxpayer.
Why should people in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland pay for this
government's and the English FA stadium. Also why is Wembley classed as the
national stadium when Scotland and Wales have their own stadium. We in the rest of the UK are sick and tired off paying for English flops.
If you took 10% annual income from all premiership clubs, 20% from those in Europe and 30% from last year's champions, then give that money to the FA for their stadium - problem solved. It may also stop the Man U monopoly.
William Hague - a hostage of the right-wing?
Audience question: In light of recent comments by the troublesome T's of Townend and Tebbit is William Hague no more than a hostage of the right-wing of his very divided party? You said:
William Hague has shown a lack of muscle in disciplining the tub-thumping right wing of his party. They are a contemptible rabble holding outdated and odious views. The moderates of the Tory party should confront the leadership once and for all to ostracise and tear out this rightist malignancy if their party is to regain a semblance of respect in the country.
Can I correct the statement that Heath expelled Enoch Powell. He removed him from the front bench so eliminating a challenge to his leadership. Powell was a poet, scholar, soldier who fought against real nazi racism, and politician. His thinking on the economy was a strong influence on Mrs Thatcher and through her on the world. To compare him with Townend is an outrage.
I am absolutely outraged with the comments by Townsend and Co and with William Hague for accepting he has individuals who are 'polite' racists in his party. I would like to make the suggestion that it is exactly people like Townend and Tebbitt who in themselves have failed to integrate into multicultural Britain. One only has to look at the emerging generation to see multicultural Britain flourishing extremely well (take every university in England for example).
If, for argument's sake, 50% of the population sympathised with the "racist" views of Mr Townend, how can their feelings be reflected by their elected representative under the present "banning orders".
I would like to thank Theresa May for so clearly demonstrating tonight the strength of her party's grip on the 'race issue'. There is no need, as was asserted on tonight's programme, for Robin Cook, or indeed any other politician to bait the Tories on the subject of race or racism. They are clearly more than capable of tearing themselves apart over this issue without help from anyone else. The rest of us can just sit back and watch.
During the past three years the words race, racist, racism, xenophobia and others have been abused to the extent that they have been drained of their literal definitions. Had the panel, or members of the audience for that matter, been asked to write down their understanding of the definitions for each word, we would have seen as many different answers. Assumed moral and intellectual superiority to others, which is a core ingredient in the definition of 'racism' was very evident tonight and as such, those who made that assumption stand guilty.
Judging by the comments on the alleged racism of the Conservative Party, the present population of the UK seems to be ignorant of the fact that in WWII the older generation made great sacrifices to ensure freedom of speech. It is an insult to those who died in the conflict for the upstart CRE to attempt to deny people the freedom which we fought for.
If Hague were a strong leader then this problem would never have arisen. But that's not the point, although he was too slow about it, he did the right thing. By being forced to apologise Townend has sunk back to the obscurity from whence he came. Bill Morris was wrong, it does not really matter what Townend THINKS, as I am sure some of the private opinions of many MPs (and general public) would be deemed offensive. The important thing is what he SAYS and the way it is said.
I'm born English and white. I get fed up hearing how English whites are racist, we keep hearing how Britain ruled the waves and how we used slave labour and so on. I and many Britons today did not do that, it was our ancestors centuries ago. How long are we going to be punished for this? I believe our politicians on all sides are using the race card in one way or another including the ethnic minorities in this country for their own ends. I suppose I'm racist now for pointing this out.
Bill Morris chose to misrepresent the speech about a 'foreign land' to attack the Tories and their perceived split on the issue of race. However, like Lord Taylor to whom he referred, Mr Morris seems to think that the English should not be allowed the same freedom to express their fears for their own ethnic origins and the rapidly
changing nature of their society and small island at the hands of those from elsewhere. This IS a small country and it IS heavily overpopulated, largely as a result of immigration and it is absurd to call it racist to say so. It is this sort of self-seeking,
self-protecting nonsense that alienates so many ethnic English.
My dictionary defines 'mongrel' as 'of mixed breed or type'. On this basis then surely we are a mongrel race and have been for a very long time. John Townend is therefore only stating the truth. I find it very disturbing that we would appear to be losing our freedom of speech.
I have heard that the ethnic minority is ca 5% of the UK population. Their rights etc seem to dominate 75% of all debates. Enough is enough. I'm fed up with hearing about the subject as I'm sure the silent majority are as well.
William Hague is not a weak leader. On the contrary, he knew EXACTLY what he was doing. He could not upset the right wing of his party.
Edward Heath summed it up succinctly when he said that many current right-wing Tories sympathised with Townend's views and that was why Hague could not withdraw the whip. Incidentally, Bill Morris is right - let's have a debate WITH all sections of the coloured)community rather than ABOUT us.
I think the public cannot be fooled by how Hague has dealt with Townend. If he were serious about tackling racism, he would have removed him from the Tory party immediately.
William Hague's refusal to sack John Townend demonstrates clearly that he is a weak and ineffective leader, that in no way has he the strength or the qualities it takes to be a prime minister. Hague has shown that he condones having a racist in the Tory party, and I for one will never vote for a political party that insults people by referring to them as 'mongrels'. I find this remark particularly 'offensive'.
On the matter of the prime language of the UK being English, is it not true that 2000 years ago no one spoke English as the French still had until 1066 to invade and change our language, so our language is ever evolving and diluting.
I agree with Bill Morris - the fact that John Townend wrote an apology for what he had said doesn't mean he still isn't racist. He holds the same views - just apologised for saying them. Hague should have thrown him out if the Tory party is genuinely non-racist.
Should Ronnie Biggs be allowed back in the country?
Audience question: Should Ronnie Biggs be allowed back in the country simply to get expensive medical treatment and be kept in prison at the taxpayers' expense? You said:
It is to be hoped that Ronnie Biggs is not given the luxury of dying in an expensive hotel room like the last Kray twin. He is a criminal and should be treated as such. His 'accommodation' fees should be taken from his ill-gotten gains and not funded by the British taxpayer.
Ronnie Biggs should remain in exile and not burden the taxpayer with any expense. This country owes him nothing.
Ronnie Biggs must be allowed back into the country to serve the rest of his prison sentence. As soon as he lands the police must arrest him. On his arrest, he should be taken straight to jail and the media kept away. Ronnie Biggs must not be allowed to make any more money from selling his story to any newspapers or magazines. He only wants to return to England to receive the best medical treatment in the world.
If Ronnie Biggs wants to return to the UK he should serve his prison sentence in the manner of a 60's/70's prisoner - same accommodation, same privileges, same food etc.
The USA in danger of becoming a rogue state?
Audience question: By unilaterally signing up to the 1972 anti-ballistic missile treaty is the USA in danger of becoming a rogue state? You said:
Britain should not be supporting the USA missile defense shield. Simply put it destabilises the peace that has worked for 30 years. Yes the USA is in danger of becoming a rogue state because it seems to be focusing chiefly on its own security at the risk of destabilising the world. A world leader should lead by example and not be solely concerned with its own defence.
Isn't the fatal flaw in the Star Wars plan that there is nothing to stop the Chinese loading a nuclear device onto a commercial ship and sailing it to San Francisco if they want to? Isolation is not an option for America and they should show the same commitment to the United Nations and engaging so-called rogue states that the Chinese do. For example the situation in Sudan has been greatly improved not by American weaponry but Chinese aid.
Regarding the new Star Wars, I think that it's a disgrace that Britain is supporting this. As somebody tonight said it's simply Mr Bush repaying his election debts to the huge arms industry. Bush is a dangerous man and supporting him in breaking both the non-proliferation and space weaponry treaties is a crime against future humanity.
Not a bad idea if it can be used for global security but, with the aggressive manner in which he delivered his message to the world, it seems that Bush only has American interest and world domination in mind.
President Bush's attitude to the ABM treaty is another example of his insularity and shortsightedness. It may be that Russia will not respond directly, but China will accelerate its nuclear programme to produce more warheads and decoys. Whilst even this would not make them a credible threat to the US, this in turn WILL scare the Russians into responding by tearing up the weapon reduction treaties they have signed. Anything that threatens Russian democracy is bad, bad, bad for the future of all concerned. We should stop kissing up to the Americans on this, and say simply No Kyoto, No ABM
The USA has become a rogue state through its exploitation of the world's resources by means of selfish trade, through the unilateral abandonment of arms agreements, through its attitude on various social issues such as abortion but, most of all, by not participating in the Kyoto Protocol. These policies have consequences for people's lives which will make human rights abuses in places like Afghanistan and China seem like a picnic. Our government should name and shame the States.
Suppose the USA succeeds in installing a full-proof missile shield. How do we know that a US government of some extreme kind does not one day arrive in the White House and on the basis of its country's invulnerability decides to mis-behave? If you know nothing can happen to you, you may be tempted to disregard codes of conduct. So, the answer is yes, the USA is much more likely to become a rogue state if it goes on with its "Son of Star Wars" than any time in its past.
There seems to be a large focus on President Bush being 'inward' with the missile defence shield. I would like to remind people that this was one of the policies on which he was ELECTED by the American people. We therefore have to accept that he will push ahead with the plan and as an ally, I would rather be under a nuclear umbrella than outside of it!
In my opinion we should back the US stance on Star Wars. The US is a hegemony, and we are its allies. Wallerstein's hegemonic theory states that every hegemony is challenged for their power at some time or another. The next challenge will most definitely be nuclear and if this does happen, as an ally of the US we will also be a target. So surely it is worth our while to invest in this project rather than be a sitting duck at the next claim to the world throne!
The missile fiasco is crazy. I am in Canada at present and the liberal government here is supporting Bush, just as Blair is. It is all very well for our leaders to support Bush in his defence policy but the fallout from intercepting missiles would be likely to fall on countries like Canada and the UK, not to mention all the neutral countries in between. Surely this would mark a step backwards rather than forwards.
I think we should back America in the Star Wars saga. Do the panellists really believe in an idealistic, peaceful world? My view is that America is the strongest nation in the world and when you are at the top, there is always someone ready to knock you off that spot. It is better to be prepared. Just look at the Middle East and has everyone forgot about Saddam Hussein. It is my belief that China is an upcoming danger to be aware of and sometimes actions speak louder than words, some people just do not want to listen.
Britain should say firmly NO to the United States missile defences. We should not be a host country for other nations' defences whilst making ourselves the premier global target for the so-called 'rogue states'. The European Union is our future, let us build our own European missile shield instead. The EU economy is almost twice the size of the USA economy so funding really should not be a problem. Europe, not the USA, will be the world's leading superpower within 50 years, let us start planning for that now.
Commenting on the "Star Wars" issue, Chris Smith said that Tony Blair would carefully consider what was best for British interest. Nobody thought it pertinent to say that perhaps Bush was equally entitled to consider what he thought best for American interests. I suspect this is a consequence of the anti-Americanism which permeates a lot of thinking this side of the Atlantic.
Who will stop the US from dominating the world if they get this defence? We are European and we should be working for Europe. The speech given by GW Bush is similar to that of Adolf Hitler in 1932 and its allies Russia soon learned a lesson. Do we learn from history or are we blind?
The question is how extensive the shield is to be given the number of weapons these states actually have. More over will it be able to cope with say hundreds of decoys that may be fired by such rogue states?
Alcohol 24 hours a day?
Audience question: Should alcohol be on sale 24 hours a day? You said:
I am astonished at the level of ignorance that exists about practical and liberalised alcohol licensing. Every study conducted including those done by universities, the medical profession and the police have shown that less restrictive laws actually bring down consumption, bingeing, associated crime and violence. People will still have the same resources - they just won't be forced to "drink up" against a clock set by the state.
What we would gain would be an end to binge drinking prior to 11pm and all the behavioural problems that that causes. And those who fear all-night pubs should just consider that unless there is sufficient demand - and who really thinks that everyone wants to go drinking at 4 in the morning - pubs will only open as late as is profitable to do so. But the option to close when the crowd dwindles is far preferable to and more civilised than a mass "chucking out" time.
Having been subjected to years of abuse by an alcoholic, I cannot see any reasonable good use of extending licensing laws. I truly believe alchohol has far more negative consequences on society as a whole than other so-called drugs. If alcohol was to start becoming as unsociable as cigarette smoking we'd all be better off.
Of course we should be able to buy alcohol 24/7. I have spent time in many countries that have far more liberal licensing laws and far less drink related violence. The only thing that surprises me is that it has taken so long to suggest reform of our archaic licensing laws.
Why do questions about the most fundamental reforms to our licensing laws ever receive no real debate and are seen as little more than light-hearted stocking fillers by the media?
I am concerned about late licensing when one considers the large number of young women who have been raped and murdered while walking home from night clubs during the early hours of the morning. If we are to have 24-hour licensing we must have an adequate bus service, taxi service and sufficient police officers on duty during the early hours to enable young people to get home safely.
My understanding was that the West End of London's police have said they could not cope with a 24-hour city. We have 20-hour opening here, and can verify that the abuse of alcohol is not related to early closing times - we have 20 hours of mindless violent yob behaviour here. Having seen on May Day what the police can do if they feel like it, we look forward to finding that 6000 police have boxed thousands of revellers into the Covent Garden piazza from 3am to 11am 'to prevent a disturbance'.
I wonder if the government are considering 24-hour openings for the good of the people or the masses and masses of profit it will receive in taxes and for the brewery companies?
With the introduction of 24-hour licensing, the Home Office aims to reduce alcohol abuse by replacing a moralistic law with a pragmatic one. Has it simply not occurred to them that a similar approach might work to reduce drug abuse?
Do you not think that their implementation will result in a certain section of the population drinking for a ridiculous amount of time, and in turn cause grave health problems?
Should Camelot pay up?
Audience question: Should Camelot pay up? You said:
How can Chris Smith say that Camelot should pay up? Does he not realise how many people would claim now that theirr 30 days are up when thay have already been refused?
Thank you Bob Powell of Lichfield for taking it upon yourself to speak for the entire country but I am perfectly capable of speaking for myself and I believe the Camelot decision is most definitely correct. Camelot simply cannot ignore the rules on a whim. The couple lost their ticket - tough. Maybe they will be more careful next time.
Yes, I and the rest of the country think that Camelot should PAY UP!
Only Chris Smith was allowed to reply, and he said that Camelot should 'see sense and pay'. As Mr Smith must well know, Camelot wanted to pay, but took legal advice and were told that they could not do so within the very strict rules laid down to protect the lottery from abuse. His answer was therefore blatant populist claptrap.
General comments on the programme:
Why does Chris Smith ignore all the questions asked of him and talk such rubbish?
You have the problem of not all the panel getting a chance to answer every individual question. Or by the time a question does reach the final person on the panel, the original question has been steadily changed by the chairman - which is very irritating. Mr Dimbleby is there to chair the discussion, not ask the questions.
Why was Miss Wyatt even there? I'm not saying she doesn't have the right to express an opinion, it's just that when given the option she couldn't really think of much to say and ended every sentence with a nose wrinkle and a laugh as if none of it was serious.
There is a clear bias in the contributions which you have posted which I will alert other message boards to. Bear in mind 14m of us voted for John Major in 1992, more than for Tony Blair in 1997. We are not ready for a one party state yet. As for Petronella Wyatt interrupting Bill Morris what a load of rubbish. The men shamelessly crowded out both women's contributions.
Why did you have Petronella Wyatt on the panel this evening? Her views/points were incoherent, her attitude was sorely lacking and all she seemed to be concerned about was how she looked in the camera. Otherwise, I thought this evening's programme was excellent, as usual.
Weak panel, especially Miss Wyatt, and the topics were discussed less in depth.
Petronella Wyatt should have been stopped from interrupting Bill Morris. The TV audience couldn't hear his contribution.
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