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Thursday, 4 October, 2001, 18:44 GMT 19:44 UK
October 4, London
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Audience question: As stirring as Tony Blair's speech may have been does the panel really believe that Britain can now become the saviour of the world? You said:
I watched the programme last night and was incited to throw things at the television. Tony Blair is finally using his powerful position in the way that a leader should. His admittance that the isolationist attitudes that have been adopted by many Western countries in recent times have been a mistake was remarkable and he went up in my estimation as a result. Any leader who is willing to acknowledge problems and believe in shouldering responsibility for solutions should be applauded.
Tony Blair's speech was a long time coming, so why were much of the panel and the audience knocking it? At a time where the west is finally waking up to the fact that there is a world beyond their borders, people like Amanda Platell are still firmly stuck in the nationalistic mind set. Wake up: international issues affect us all, and nowadays we expect our leaders to deal with them.
I think the prime minister is showing leadership in the world at this critical time. There is evidence obviously which cannot be made public and this was supported by the opposition leader Iain Duncan Smith. We must support the prime minister.
Having just returned from three months' stay in LA I am shocked at the hawkish attitude taken by Mr Blair. Most Americans in Southern California seem to want the funds to be spent in reaction to Sept 11 on greater internal security measures rather than military action.
Why not solve Britain's problems first: House our homeless, feed our hungry, heal our sick, protect our children. It seems to be true what the French are saying about the refugee crisis - Britain seems to be attractive to all except the British.
I feel it's good that our government is taking a front seat in the eradication of world terrorism, but we do have to sort out our own problems too, and that should be done with even more zeal now than ever before.
As a teacher of 30 years standing I am deeply insulted by Amanda Platell's comments on our "third world education system". If there are shortcomings in our state education system many of them are due to the chronic under-funding at national and local level which characterised the years of Conservative government.
If William Hague was our PM at this time how on earth could he have gone to Europe asking for their support in the alliance when he has already insulted half of them? I shudder to think of what mess we would be in. How dare Michael Ancram criticise Tony Blair? Virtually everyone in the world has said what a truly magnificent and inspirational speech it was and its delivery was brilliant, yet Ancram could not resist picking nasty little faults.
Tony Blair continues to build on his stature as a world leader. This is not about making political points in parliament - that battle has been won. The battle that remains is an international one where a terrible criminal act has brought many nations together. Mr Blair should be applauded as should any world leader that joins the fight against terrorism.
If we want the rest of the world to follow our lead in our fight against terrorism should we not persuade them to release all the terrorists they have in their prisons and then offer the terrorist leaders a government office. There are huge double standards in the dealing with Irish terrorists who are obviously still very active.
Link alliance against terrorism with issue of the euro?
Audience question: Do members of the panel agree that to link the welcome worldwide alliance against terrorism with the issue of the euro is at best illogical and at worst corrupt opportunism? You said:
I think it is only right for Tony Blair to equate the entry into the euro as being a means by which to influence its European partners in not only the future structure of an expanding European community, but also by influencing the international community in its fight against terrorism. Only by being at the centre of Europe, can you have an influence in these decisions.
V Dower of Bedfordshire criticised me for criticising Tony Blair - in fact I praised the writer of his speech for its success! (Read between the lines V Dower of Bedfordshire!)
Blair was opportunistic with regards the euro and other things. Quite frankly he had me very worried with the tone of his speech - either he is a bit unstable or thinks that all the population are as daft as his supporters. He has become more convinced of his own omnipotence than Thatcher was of hers, and in a shorter time as well!
Mary Kallagher of King's Lynn wonders in dubious tones who wrote Tony Blair's speech? The answer to that is Tony Blair himself wrote it, a fact that has been in the news. I would have thought Mary Kallagher, if you were looking to make fair comment, it would be advisable to at least get your facts right before you criticise others. Keep up the good work Tony, I hesitantly voted for Labour last time but I will not be at all hesitant next time.
I don't think we have to say "yes" to the euro. There is an equally compelling economic argument for the "no" vote - namely that the European economies are not in sync with each other and that the interest rates and currency rates are all very different (especially the UK in regards to the rest of the EU). The euro has been rushed and badly thought out.
Whoever wrote Tony Blair's speech pulled off the master stroke of appealing to both the patriotism and the fears of the nation. However, closer examination reveals the huge ego of the prime minister and the desire to be regarded as 'President' Blair. Bringing in the question of the euro - President of Europe?
Commenting on the euro being inevitable, am I just stupid or is there supposed to be a referendum to determine that? What about the US dollar?
The UK will eventually have to join the euro. It should not be a
referendum issue because "no" is not an option. The key European countries will be discouraged from trading with the UK if it retains the pound. The UK economy, I believe, will struggle, possibly to the point of collapse if this attitude regarding the monetary union continues.
Thatcher's comments incite more racial hatred?
Audience question: Following Baroness Thatcher's comments asking for more condemnation by Muslim religious leaders does the panel agree that these remarks will incite more racial hatred? You said:
All she said was that Muslim leaders need to condemn terrorism more and stress the disassociation of Islam from it. We should stop patronising Muslims by rushing indignantly to their defence - they can speak for themselves if they think they have said enough. But surely to say that they need to go on publicly disassociating Islam from terrorism is perfectly reasonable and in no way an excuse for racial hatred.
Lady Thatcher deserves compliments for standing for a bitter truth. Muslims all over the world are lacking in condemning terrorists attack. They have not done enough to convince the world about their opposition to terrorism and support for the eradication of global terrorism. It is also a sad and bitter fact that both the USA and Britain silently and passively helped these organisations grow to their present state.
Thatcher didn't go far enough with her remarks. We have seen Moslems the world over rejoicing at the sight of the twin towers collapsing!
The Imams are hypocrites in their condemnation for they have fomented this terrorism.
With regard to Mrs Thatcher's remarks I agree that if more Muslim leaders in Britain and elsewhere were more vociferous in their condemnation, there would be less hostility to perfectly innocent Muslims. I was very distressed to see in the press a demonstration by Muslims in London carrying placards and pictures of one who is considered to be the chief instigator of the atrocity.
The answer is no. The sort of ignorant thugs who would commit violence against mosques or Moslem people are not influenced by the likes of Mrs T. They are just using 11/9 as an excuse for racial bullying.
It was very upsetting hearing Baroness Thatcher being criticised, especially by members of the Conservative party. This is England the home of free speech. The point Mrs Thatcher made was that she would like to hear more Muslim religious leaders' condemnation. I believe that if this occurred it would stop the present 'racial' conflicts. Let us remember that Baroness Thatcher is a very clever lady who retains a very large amount of loyal followers in this country.
No surprises from Baroness Thatcher then. Her comments, as usual, are narrow-sighted and reactionary and will only serve to exacerbate racial hatred and the isolation of Muslim communities in the UK - two topics that I am sure are very close to the Baroness's heart.
There's a lot of denial going on regarding the anti-feeling towards Muslims in this country - at least in the media. Muslim friends of mine have been openly abused and attacked. The wife of one suggested that he might 'shave off his moustache' in order to look more English... If the reality of what it is like to be Muslim and living here right now were known, the picture would be shameful.
Watching tonight's programme I am astounded at the number of people who seem to be expressing the view that Bin Laden in some way deserves our sympathy and tolerance and that he should be given a fair trial. He and people like him waiver their rights to these privileges when they carry out attacks like those on 11 Sept. Perhaps their views would change if it was their own relative who had been killed!
I feel the panel were particularly blinkered in their condemnation of Mrs Thatcher's comments. Yes there has been condemnation of the terrorist attacks from Muslim leaders, but they were made in the few days following the attacks. Nothing has been said since, and there certainly has not been the wide-ranging condemnation from Muslim leaders across Europe and the rest of the world as there has been from other religious and governmental leaders.
Thatcher's comments today are about as helpful as mentioning the IRA only - forgetting the UDA and implying that there is no difference between the Provisional IRA and the Real IRA. All acts of terrorism are evil regardless of the number of victims involved. I would like to ask how it would be possible to open a dialogue or negotiations with an organised body who refuses to accept responsibility for their actions.
I think that the comments made earlier by Lady Thatcher were harsh but fair. If the Muslims protested as aggressively against the Taliban as they seem to against the USA, then I think A, there would be no Taliban and Osama Bin Laden, and B, there would be possibly less ill-feeling towards their religion/culture here in the west.
I do not recall religious groups such as the British Christians or British Jews coming forward to condemn the attack on 11 September - communities stood together and condemned the atrocities whether Muslim, Christian, Jewish etc. Baroness Thatcher is way out of touch and must be held accountable for her remarks.
There is no place for terror in Islam. I believe that Mrs Thatcher's comments on Muslims are wrong and disproportionate. She owes British Muslims an apology.
It is true that Lady Thatcher should, but perhaps never will, learn to mind her tongue. It is nonetheless though a fact that the only views that the BBC, and ITN for that matter, are broadcasting are those of the Muslim population of this country. Nobody is asking for the opinions of non-Muslims in this country.
IRA and ETA being dealt with in war against terrorism?
Audience question: Why are terrorist organisations such as the IRA and ETA not being dealt with with the same force in this war against terrorism? You said:
A number of participants in tonight's debate drew parallels between the IRA and Bin Laden. The IRA has a clear goal, the unification of Ireland, which is a subject on which one can negotiate. It would seem that Bin Laden's goal is the destruction of the United States, or perhaps the entire western world. What negotiation can there be? A compromise where he and his ilk kill only half of us?
I am constantly amazed by the ignorance shown by some individuals who feel obliged to comment in a vociferous manner on Northern Ireland affairs. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the nature of the Republican movement to suggest that IRA/Sinn Fein have restricted their activities towards the country from which they seek independence. Most of IRA/Sinn Fein fund raising comes from the USA, so it is naive to exclude the IRA from the list of international terrorists, when the mechanics of their machine rely so heavily on the international dimension.
The primary difference between The IRA, ETA and the Bin Laden terrorists is that the former two have restricted their activities towards the country from which they seek independence. It is therefore an internal matter for the countries involved. Once the IRA and ETA begin to bomb America, Germany, Pakistan or any other state, then it does indeed become an international problem.
So Mr Ruane charges that the West and multinationals operate solely through the exploitation of third world countries. Clearly I do not know Mr Ruane's qualifications for making such a comment but I can say that I have spent, cumulatively, about 18 years living and working in so called third world countries. My observations tell me that the majority of exploitation emanates firmly from within their own societies, the classic tale of the strong exploiting the weak. It's true the whole world over.
I think a very valid comment was made last night and that was, why should ALL Muslims be expected to condemn the actions of a few? Are all Christians asked to condemn the actions of the IRA or ETA? Are all Jews asked to condemn the acts of aggression by settlers in the West Bank? The answer is no, so why are all Muslims, a population of 1bn, and extremely diverse, treated as one entity?
Why are there so many "double standards" among the governments of the West? Is the life of an American worth more than the life of an Afghani, or an Iraqi? The answer of course is no. So why have there been so many tears shed for the 7,000 dead in New York and Washington? Why are there no tears shed for the 1,000,000 CHILDREN who have died in Iraq because of US sanctions? Who will bring THEIR oppressors to justice?
I was very impressed with Dr John Reid. The same cannot be said for Ms Platell. When we engage in constructive debate, let us at least have the facts of the argument before us - let's not try and distort the picture and make things worse. The Provisional IRA had no part in the Omagh atrocity, quite rightly pointed out by Dr John Reid, and I can see by Mr Wilkes' comments he has some other insight in to these facts that the rest of us are unaware of.
How can John Reid say that Tony Blair stood out against 'genocide' in Kosovo when it is the same Tony Blair who is supporting the sanctions on Iraq? Since the end of the Gulf war, it is estimated that sanctions on Iraq have caused the death of 1m people. Is that not genocide?
I found it absurd to hear John Reid claim that the real IRA are being
pursued in the same was as Osama Bin Laden. Osama Bin Laden has found all his assets frozen, he will have his organisation destroyed, and will probably be killed. The members of the real IRA eventually may be arrested, then possibly convicted, and certainly inadequately sentenced. Then in a few years they will no doubt be released under some peace initiative.
I totally agree with Bianca Jagger that there are double standards against terrorism if the oil question is involved. People must realise that in the end, countries' economies are at the forefront of world leaders' minds!
Why does no one ask why the UK and US governments don't stop the funding of the IRA as vehemently as they have done the Islamic terrorist groups? If this is a war on terrorism then surely we should be freezing the assets of anyone funding the IRA.
Has John Reid asked for Loyalist terrorist groups (UVF etc) to decommission their weapons? When was the last time a Loyalist was called a terrorist in public? Has he had peace talks with The Rev Ian Paisley?
I was in the London audience and was unable to challenge John Reid's shameful defence of the IRA when he well knows the IRA are still an active terrorist group. Just because they don't bomb the mainland doesn't mean they don't still trade in the business of terrorism.
If Tony Blair and his government are serious about the war on terrorism, which I wholeheartedly support, why are the IRA and Unionist terrorists in Northern Ireland not being taken into custody. The only way we can convince the Muslim world that it is a war against terrorism and NOT a war against Islam, is to prove to them that we are also fighting non-Islamic terrorists at home.
I hope the events of September 11 will highlight to people that we do not in fact live in a globalised society, but a divided world of western imperialism vs the third world. I most certainly do condemn the events of September 11, but the western world must face up to the facts that our governments and multinational companies operate solely through the exploitation of third world countries, and that this injustice cannot and must not continue.
US abandoning Israel?
Audience question: Is the US abandoning Israel in an unseemly haste to find new Muslim allies? You said:
Because George W Bush hasn't shown any interest in resolving the Palestinian problem in the Middle East as opposed to the late President Clinton, Bin Laden's terrorism will continue until a solution is reached. Obviously the key to this problem is let the Palestinians have their own country and live alongside Israel in peace and harmony.
The worst thing I heard in the discussion on Israel was a man in the audience saying that Israel had offered the Palestinians "half of Jerusalem". This latest Zionist myth needs to be nailed. Israel drew a wide ring around Jerusalem and offered the Palestinians semi-sovereignty over a small area in the outer ring. It is like calling a part of Dagenham "half of London". However, as a Jew myself, I was very pleased to hear a Jew in the audience condemning Israel's atrocities in the occupied territories.
I would like to point out that the Palestinians have compromised enough to deserve a state of their own. Let's not forget that Israel is the aggressor and the occupier. The problem is that, the public opinion in the west is misguided on this issue. The fact that Israel offered a deal to the Palestinians should not in any way undermine the right of the latter to claim their own home land and to allow 4m refugees to go back home.
I agree with Bianca Jagger that the root cause of terrorism against the USA is its one sided support of Israel against Palestine. It is interesting to note also that it has taken the dreadful act of September 11 for President Bush to try to understand the real problem. Surely it does not have to take terrorism of this scale to bring world leaders to deal with an even hand in international affairs.
Israel is using strong arm tactics against Palestinians. Surely having suffered atrocities themselves in the past they should have a little more compassion. No one should be fighting unarmed people throwing stones with tanks and helicopter gun ships. The USA should pull the plug on support for Israel no matter what and be more even-handed in their policies towards this area of conflict.
General comments on the programme:
Your programme absolutely infuriates with "mightier-than-thou" at the controls. I lose all faith in humanity when I watch the programme. Despite that, Question Time is the most arrogant, biased, unfair and conflict inciting programme on television, but I cannot force myself to change channels while it is on... I am gripped.
I thought the majority of the panellists came over well. John Reid got off lightly on the question of dealing with domestic terrorism. Bianca Jagger made a number of excellent comments. Michael Ancram was very solid and a fine representative of the idea of a loyal opposition. Amanda Platell was marvellous - simply charming. David Oaten seemed out of his depth at times.
We are lucky to live in a democracy which means we all have freedom of speech, well, relatively. However, I expect you to have people on the panel with some political credibility. What credentials does Bianca Jagger really have to be sitting on the panel? I am very well read on current affairs, I am concerned about human rights, it doesn't necessarily make me a suitable candidate to sit on the panel.
Having watched the programme, I am more than ever convinced that Bianca Jagger has no grasp of international issues, I think Mark Oaten talks a lot of sense, and I was impressed by Dr John Reid. Amanda Platell is so negative it is not real.
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