Thursday 17 December, Nottingham

Thursday 10 December, Manchester

Thursday 3 December, Southampton

Thursday 26 November, Newcastle

Thursday 19 November, Peterborough

Thursday 12 November, Glasgow

Thursday 5 November, London

Thursday 29 October, Birmingham

Thursday 22 October, Cardiff

Thursday 15 October, Leeds

Thursday 8 October, Bournemouth

Thursday 1 October, Manchester


Thursday 17 December, Nottingham

On the panel were:

  • Mo Mowlam MP, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
  • Kenneth Clarke MP, former Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Bob Ayling, chief executive, British Airways
  • Simon Heffer, political columnist and writer
  • Beatrix Campbell, broadcaster and writer

    Northern Ireland peace process

    Audience question: With IRA terrorists refusing to give up any guns and loyalist terrorists trying to kill IRA leaders, is the peace process on its last legs?

    Simon Heffer said: "I think the peace process is going to go down the lavatory unless we enforce the rule of law."

    Mo Mowlam said: "In relation to decommissioning, we want to see it happen as soon as possible. Momentum is a crucial part of this process and if we lose momentum we're in trouble. Let me say, I don't think it's lost now because even at this very point they are still talking and trying to find a way through the present difficulties. The party leaders are committed to try and make progress, the people want to make progress and I believe it is still possible."

    Ken Clarke said: "The IRA, there must be an underlying suspicion that they have turned to politics for as long as it's possible to get an advance in politics, that they're preparing to tun to violence again if they don't get what they want ... The decommissioning thing has now become a serious problem."

    You said:

    The US and UK is engaged in the following simple policy: _Pulverize a poor nation and from its debris create a diplomatically triumph, dangerous religious worrier of the modern day Muslim world._ In my view this is much more dangerous than the mass distraction weapons Saddam is supposedly to posses.
    Mikael G

    If parts of the UN (another contentious issue) feel it necessary to use force to see about resolving the situation in Iraq because, as Mo Mowlam mentioned, seven years of talking has done nothing, will the British government decide to use force after repeated attempts to get the IRA to hand in their arsenal? At this stage it has taken over 25 years to even begin to reach a peace settlement.
    John Richardson

    The crisis in Iraq

    Audience question: What can be achieved by a few days military action that hasn't already been achieved by conflict and economic sanctions?

  • How many Iraqis must die to save Clinton's skin?

    Beatrix Campbell said: "I'm very worried about it. There's a mission here by the United States and the president of the United States which may or may not have very much to do with the resolution of the crisis in Iraq."

    Simon Heffer said "I want the government of this country to tell us what the British interest is here ... We may get to the stage of having to carve British names on war memorials and I don't see why our servicemen should have to give their lives for something which we have not had justified as being a British interest, as opposed to an American interest."

    Ken Clarke said: "I support the bombing unreservedly, but it mustn't just be a three-day policy ... You've got to have a policy beyond the military. It is fair to compare to Hitler ... You can't just let him [Saddam Hussein] build up weapons of mass destruction."

    Mo Mowlam on Saddam Hussein: "He's got 50,000 tons of chemicals that can make poisoned gas. Now that can that can wipe out most of the surrounding countries. Now, do we act now or do we wait till that happens?"

    Bob Ayling said: "Having started this containment it can't just stop here. It's got to go on and we have radically changed our policy towards Iraq this week and we will have to live with the consequences of that."

    You said:

    With regard to the self imposed restriction not to begin bombing during Ramadan. Get real Messrs. Blair and Clinton - if they were worried about religious concerns they should have taken care to be worried about how offensive it might be to go about killing innocents ten days before their own self-professed religious festival. Why should Ramadan bother them when Christmas plainly doesn't? Christians everywhere must deplore what Clinton called - 'inevitable but unintended civillian casualties' that will result - indeed are a part of the calculations for such an attack. 'Unintended' cannot be used as a moral justification when combined whith the knowledge that they are also 'inevitable'. That is not just war. It is not a moral policy. Displace Saddam yes, act for world peace, yes, but knowingly do so in a way which sends innocents to their deaths? That is unChristian as much as it is unacceptable.
    Jock Coats

    I find it laughable and hypocritical of the public, who in one breath accuse the UK government of being lap dogs to President Clinton and the USA, then accuse Clinton of starting the events for his own political gain. What rubbish! It is these people who have been sucked in by their own propaganda by thinking that events in the States are bigger than the crisis in the Gulf which effects the entire world as opposed to a single country. And as for trying to avoid impeachment hearings, there is no way he can escape them.If they don't start this week, they'll begin next week, the week after, or the week after that. World, wake up! I'm not advocating we bomb every tinpot dictator every time he annoys the civilised world, but this man in Iraq has had his chance, diplomacy hasn't worked, so what else can we do? Tell him off and make him stand in the corner of the room wearing a dunce hat? I think not!
    Nick Simmons

    Why are we so bothered about so many foreign issues when there are so many domestic issues that need to be addressed. The British people have to pay for wars, and the people that are affected by them.
    C Riches

    The United Nations is as old as the state of Israel. In the face of the ongoing Desert Fox war, what are the immediate and long term effects on the fragile Middle East process, i.e. Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organisation on the one hand, the Taliban and Iran; Christmas and tourism, oil politics and the Stock Market on the other. Not excluding the issue of relationship among the five permanent members of the UN?
    Edmond Remie-Gray

    We must divorce the impeachment of Clinton from the real global seriousness that this new war will eventually determine, remember that this has supposedly been predicted hundreds of years ago. Welcome to the end! Let America sort itself out later because now we are risking our own skin in this war, we have more important things to think about now other than Clinton's affairs! Saddam will be defeated, but it is ridiculous to assume that we won't suffer any losses. Saddam is a lunatic and doesn't care about the rest of the world like we do.
    Richie Zapatero

    Firstly, you do not need a long range missile to deploy chemical or biological weapons, the Lockerbie bomb is proof of this fact. The threat should be fully eliminated. Secondly, in order for the Iraqi people to overthrow Saddam they need to be educated as to why their country is being bombed. Are they being given the real facts?
    Nick Easton

    Clinton must go! Events like this have provoked further doubts in the mind of the public. Many people probably have passed the following comment through their minds: did Clinton bomb Iraq to take the focus off his home affairs? In my opinion, with people doubting him in this way, he is unfit to continue in power and the cost of his actions are innocent lives. I am also worried about Britain's involvement. I ask whether we will be viewed as a US satellite rather than a member of the European Community.
    Jonathan Harvey

    Bombing is not a suitable method to achieve stated aims. Too much emphasis on saving American or British lives whilst putting Iraqi lives at risk. It would be respected if American and British lives were put at equal risk. This would also be a more suitable method to achieve stated aims. i.e. hunt down Saddam Hussein, help create new democracy.
    Alaric Dobson

    The people that are saying we shouldn't be bombing, will be the very ones that if we leave the weapons of mass destruction programme alone and Saddam eventually kills hundreds of thousands,"why did it take that amount of suffering in order for us to act?"
    Scott MacVicar

    Very sad to see Mo Mowlam and Ken Clarke tripping over themselves to show that they both believe that war is a vote winner. Very sad to see Britain pretending still to be an imperial power.
    James Miller

    I can't believe such a thing can happen in the times we are living in. It makes it worse to know people are backing Clinton and Blair in this, as I call it another form of genocide. It isn't Saddam they are after, it isn't to save anybody, as there is no evidence to state that he has been holding weapons of (what the politicians call mass destruction). One question to the audience, "What would you think if we had a military dictator and America came in and bombed us ordinary people. I rest my case.
    Keith Gibson

    Even though I do not particularly like Saddam Hussein, I think Clinton and Blair have got poor justification for bombing Iraq. They claim Saddam has been obstructing the work of the UN inspectors in checking his supposed weapons of mass destruction for weeks, so why start bombing now, on the eve of a vote in congress which will rightly finish off the saintly Bill Clinton? Its so easy for the Americans to time after time use military actions in other countries as a pretext to escape domestic troubles. They used to have a red enemy to confront, but now it's the Muslim world they pinpoint as their new enemy, when will they learn to just butt out. The UN is nothing more than an US puppet, its poor record in Bosnia demonstrated this. What about American weapons of mass destruction ? This is a pathetic attempt by Bill Clinton to save himself, and I hope people can see through it.
    Farzana Rahman

    It's people like Tony Benn and Mr Galloway who are responsible for the actions now being taken in Iraq. If they and others had backed the continued attack on Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War, none of the action taken over the last 24 hours would have been necessary and Suddam Hussein would be an unpleasant memory.
    Peter Baker

    The US and UK have waited a long time to bomb Iraq, weren't they worried about Saddam waging war like Hitler did in WW2?
    Richard Roberts

    How very just of the USA and their lackey the UK to decide to bomb Iraq because she has failed to comply with UN resolutions. Over the last 25 years Turkey (a Nato ally) has been allowed to ignore over 90 UN General Assembly and Security Council resolutions for its illegal invasion of Cyprus. Furthermore, Turkey has been found guilty in the European Court of Human rights for denying Greek Cypriots their right to enjoy accesses to their ancestral home in the north of Cyprus. Why has Turkey never been bombed for not complying with the wishes of the UN? What measures have the self-imposed world policemen taken to ensure that Turkey complies with UN resolutions? Either all cases of non compliance of UN resolutions are treated equally or the USA and to a lesser degree the UK have no right to enforce them on Iraq with force. You cannot allow your friends to handle stolen goods while your enemies are bombed for exactly the same reason!
    Mario Toouli

    It is a real shame about the possibility that President Clinton could be impeached. I believe most men in this day and age would not have been truthful to the public about having an affair. I cannot agree with any of the Republicans wanting to see Clinton gone. They are only after an impeachment to further themselves. I think what Clinton did was very wrong. However he hurt himself and his family not the people of USA.
    Sharon Greer

    Has ANYONE found ANY concrete evidence of Iraq's biological or chemical weapons? ANY actual physical samples, of any such mass destructive weapons?
    Dr Ismet Hosein

    Why aren't nuclear arsenals in Pakistan and India 'degraded'. Aren't they along with Israel just as dangerous to their neighbours?
    Paul Midgley

    Law Lords' decision to overturn previous decision on Pinochet

    Audience question: Can we have confidence in our legal system given that a Law Lord was apparently incapable of recognising a personal interest?

    Ken Clarke said: "I'm rather startled by the whole event. To be fair to him [Lord Hoffman] he's a very distinguished judge but I fail to understand what on earth he thought he was doing ... He must have a had a rush of blood to the head."

    Simon Heffer said: "I'd rather like to see judges appointed on five-year rolling contracts ... everyone else is now subject to these market forces in their various trades and professions."

    Bob Ayling said: "I think we should have confidence in our system because it's done exactly what it should do,which is to set aside the judgement and start again."

    Mo Mowlam said: "What's important to learn from this is that we must open up the people that are judges. There should be more women, there should more young people and that's one of the proposals that we're trying to get through so that the system, you begin to change the attitudes. Because that's really what we're dealing with, attitudes frozen in time"

    Beatrix Campbell said: "It surely cannot be the case that someone who was trained and interested in human rights and the international application of human rights ... is thus disqualified."

    Ken Clarke said: "I'm sure Hoffman was not actually biased but we are so strict that he has to be seen to have no bias and he should have declared that he was actively involved with one of the parties to the case."

    You said:

    Lord Hoffman's interest in Amnesty International, and the subsequent farcical outcome has greatly surprised me. A judge who has an interest in human rights should be applauded. A judge who is on the board of 'Boots' or whatever HAS an ulterior motive, that being money. A judge who is a paid up member of Amnesty International can only have an interest in the rights of all citizens across the globe against the abuses of power, which all of us should have.
    Robert Wornum






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