April 27, Newcastle

April 13, Edinburgh

March 30, Belfast

March 23, Maidstone

March 16, Truro

March 9, Nottingham

March 2, London

February 24, Leeds

February 17, London

February 10, Birmingham

February 3, Brussels

January 27, Southampton

January 20, Liverpool

January 13, London

December 16, Leeds

December 9, Manchester

December 2, Cardiff

November 25, Birmingham

November 18, Durham

November 11, Maidstone

November 4, Glasgow

October 28, Southampton

October 21, London

October 14, Sydney

October 7, Manchester

September 30, Bournemouth

September 23, London

July 15, Belfast

July 8, London

July 1, Birmingham


July 1, Birmingham

The Leader of the Opposition William Hague was the sole panellist in this special Question Time programme.

Your email views are published below.

General comments

You said:

Hague came over convincingly and confident. I say this as very much a neutral - having started off many years ago as an active socialist and Labour supporter. More recently a Conservative sympathiser, inclined to support Ken Clarke. On the question of Europe, being half German, I have had a strong tendency to support the European Union and a single currency. More recently I am not so sure. Indeed I worry a great deal about the Brussels bureaucracy and lack of effective democracy. But most of all I worry about expanding Europe further east, embracing such a volatile cocktail of incompatible cultures that I have come up with what may at first hearing be thought as a crazy notion - but I believe it has merit. We are culturally compatible with the US; we share a common language. We are successful and natural Allies. They have already cemented their union through traumatic times. They have a lot to offer a nation such as ours. I believe we could offer them something really valuable in return. They would give us the economic and political strength of the world's most powerful nation, including its currency. We would be their Hong Kong on the doorstep of Europe. So what is really so crazy about contemplating becoming the 51st state of the US of America? Isn't this worth debating some time?
John Healy

William Hague gave a very competent performance. His answers on the euro and on Northern Ireland were just what I wanted to hear. As for the man who suggested that he was too young to lead the Conservative Party, who else does he want? Kenneth Clarke's attitude to the euro is such that he would split the party and Michael Heseltine is now past it! Chris Patten might have been a possible alternative, but Tony Blair has put paid to this.
Bruce Nathan

I watched Question Time and it was excellent. And William Hague what a man! I am originally from the Gambia, a country where our head of states has fail us in every possible way that you can imagine. With reference to Question Time, I realised what an outstanding image William Hague was and furthermore realise that the some people make connivance aiming at tarnishing his image as well as his talent! Especially when one gentleman claimed to be a Tory supporter for the past few years and very selfishly said either William Hague give chance to his choice for leadership or he will join the liberals. Doesn't the British population want a leader with charisma who will bring this country the best? I think that Britain should keep its majestic powers, economy, further strengthen its military capability, keep the unification of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth and foreign affairs and protect all her territories accordingly. Then Great Britain on the road to a superpower again! It can keep a very good relationship with the EU without joining the single currency.
Ebrahim Sanyang, Luton

Is everybody walking round with their eyes shut these days? Hague has as much chance of becoming prime minister as Michael Foot did in 1983. Hague is no more than a stop-gap, acting leader until they find a proper one. The Tories have not had a real leader since Thatcher - Major was also a stop-gap. Hague has lurched the party to the unelectable right, because he is a prisoner to the right and a mere figurehead and a useless one at that. Thank God we now have a moderate, reformist Labour government that will be in power for probably the next 10 years.
Damon Kingshott

I have to say that I was pretty impressed by William Hague on Question Time. He came across as a perfectly normal person. Previously, I saw Mr. Hague as a pretty poor politician but now I think he's alright.
Jimmy

Excellent programme. Mr Hague is to be congratulated in projecting the conviction of his position.
J. Poole

I watched the programme with interest. The country would be proud to have such a leader in the future.
Andrew Milne

Why is it that politicians never answer the question? I watched the programme and Mr Hague didn't answer what he was asked. Why?
Dilip Thakkar

Excellent programme - thank you. Looking forward to next week's ... One wonders whether style will triumph over substance.
Ali

Unfortunately for Mr Hague he will never become prime minister because he cannot relate to working class people unlike his two Tory predecessors. This obviously is my personal feeling, but he does not strike me as a potential leader who could arouse the public support which Mrs Thatcher did in 1987, which would be necessary to remove Labour from power. Perhaps he should view the latest film made by Warren Beatty where he plays a politician who cuts through the lies and illusions and says what the public suspect and believe. After all it's honesty and sincerity we want, not hollow promises to attract votes. We need a leader of substance, who can galvanise public interest and make our country a world leader, not a servant to the rest of Europe and the world.
Dale Burton, a British subject e-mailing from Canada

I thought Mr Hague's performance was very good in comparison to other politicians that have been panellists. I thought his closing comments re image vs politics was correct. Substance is far better than image and dressing. Next week with Mr Appeasement will be an interesting comparison. Will we get answers or the usual waffle? An old adage 'don't listen to what they say, watch what they do' will be most apt I think.
Keith Parkin

Though I only observe British politics from the standpoint of an American conservative, I believe the question relative to Mr Hague's substance cannot yet be properly answered. From my observations, he appears to be an excellent parliamentary performer by constantly challenging Blair with real facts over issues such as Europe, tax, health service and devolution. I think the better question which faces Great Britain is the by-product of Labour policy on these issues. My personal opinion is that Britain must retain sovereignty in terms of monetary policy. But further, the country, quite independently of Europe, plays a crucial role on the world stage. To be viewed in the current conglomerate of European nations certainly de-values Britain's history, past and present, as well as its international stature. Hague's position on Europe is correct.
John Smarto

If we trust in William Hague, and give him the chance to prove himself, we will see that he is a man of substance with a lot more guts than Tony Blair, who hides behind Alistair Campbell et al. William Hague is much more in touch with the UK public than Tony Blair is. Of course, he has to be to get off the ground in the first place, but he is definitely on his way. I would like to see William Hague as PM. At least he has a sense of national preservation. Tony Blair does not seem to care at all about the UK and would rather see important decisions on Europe taken by default rather than by debate and decision.
Gary Fitzgerald, Surrey

William Hague is a hypocrite and a his views are often unclear due to the fact that he changes them as the subject context changes. His answer to a hypothetical question is often different to what he would say of the same situation involving the Labour Party, and change again for the Conservative party. His views on funding are a good example of this.
Jon Reston

Doesn't Mr Hague recognise the fact that his own personal image - aggravated by his attempts at changing his persona, with the infamous baseball cap etc - is doing his party no favours through portraying him as a leader who is neither serious nor worthy of our vote?
Anthony Denby, Chester

William Hague is doing a fantastic job as leader of the Conservative Party. He has turned the party round, it is now winning elections and has also set out his vision for the future with clarity and conviction. There is no question in my mind that William Hague will become a fantastic and superb Prime Minister. He is in tune with young people's views over the euro and the country as a whole. People who write off William Hague will be proved to be sadly mistaken when he leads the Conservative Party back to power.
Robert Reed, 16

All I can say is that being a MEMBER of the Conservative Party is a lot better and more rewarding since William Hague has become leader of the Conservative Party. Thanks to Hague, grass roots members are now more involved than they have ever been, or are in other parties. (i.e., would even the mighty Tony give his members a One Member One Vote ballot on the single currency?)
John Jenkins

Virtually all opposition leaders have a bad press in the early days. William Hague's plain speaking and honest style contrasts with the sentimentality of Tony Blair and is gradually being seen as a refreshing change. The European elections showed that the public are fed up with spin and welcome a clear and honest message. William Hague was brave to commit the Conservatives to keeping the pound. He is a man of grit and determination and shows real leadership qualities.<

Mr Hague is doing a good job in tackling the lack of accountability that the current government has. With their huge Commons majority a sense of arrogance has taken over the Labour government and is clearly visible. We currently have a government which is governing to win elections, because it is too afraid to do anything to alienate voters. The never-ending spin from the government is just one example of this. At least Mr. Hague tackles the sycophancy and the Labour's "yes men" head on, rather than simply agreeing with them - which appears to be the policy of a certain other opposition party!
Alastair Redfern

David Dimbleby, you did a good job bringing on William Hague like that. He is more articulate and thinks more clearly than we had hoped, but he lacks understanding in some areas and I wonder if anyone can bridge that gap. Some of the established Tories are rather stuffy and I am definitely not in favour of a youth culture. It dismisses what it can neither understand nor value. I think the only workable government is a best of all parties one with a reduced Labour majority.
Mrs V.A. Watkins

BBC director general and political funding

Audience question: Does Mr Hague really believe that Greg Dyke's well known links with the Labour Party will lead to a political bias within the coverage of current affairs?

William Hague said: "Well I think there's a problem when somebody becomes the director general of the BBC - it's meant to be a position that upholds the impartiality of the BBC ...

"I think it is a problem, I think it calls a lot of things into question in people's minds if that person is somebody who is well known supporter and donor of one political party ...

"It's one of those positions that's meant to be above politics."

You said:

I have just had the misfortune to watch the political broadcast on behalf of Hague that you transmitted as Question Time. There can be no fear of bias from your newly appointed director general when the producers of Question Time can pack an audience with rabid europhobes who burst into messianic applause at the thought of keeping the pound or openly support a political leader who has clearly not read or understood the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Did you let Hague pick this audience and include a few rebels - a Tory who would vote "liberal" unless Heseltine or Clark were leader; a "secretary" who thought a minimum wage was a benefit, a brave individual who thought bi-partisan over Northern Ireland meant parties agreeing? Given that Blair is a better spin doctor and now has his man at the helm what can we expect a week hence? I look forward to an audience who applaud university fees, demand single mothers be sent to a work house and demand the death penalty for people who offer to clean your windscreen.
Gerry Curtis

As a number of people have already suggested, the type of programme format we saw is farcical and simply wastes everybody's time. How is political scrutiny and accountability aided by allowing an hour-long party political broadcast, in which the leader of a party answers banal and unchallenging questions in front of an audience of nodding dogs? Programmes such as Question Time have an important role to play in the democratic process, but putting William Hague in a room full of Tory supporters and passing it off as a meaningful piece of political programming does the BBC no credit whatsoever. I am almost inclined to think the whole thing was a cynical stitch-up, designed to soften Hague's opposition to the appointment of Greg Dyke by giving him an hour's airtime in which to sell his party's message (resulting in Dyke's appointment now being merely a bit of "a mistake" as opposed to "unacceptable" in Hague's view). Surely that couldn't be the case, could it? Please don't run this kind of programme again, there's no point.
Peter Hatchard

The audience to this 'debate' with William Hague must rank as the most spineless I've have ever seen in my many years of watching the programme. In fact, I find it deeply ironic that at the same time that he was accusing the new DG of being open to political bias, you have provided him, wittingly or not, with a totally soft audience. If I saw one questioner nodding and smiling at his replies, I saw a dozen or more. Shame on you, BBC: either you have been intimidated by his attacks, or you are simply incompetent in your ability to select a genuinely representative audience. Even though I am a Labour supporter, I am not looking forward to the Blair session if you feed him such a pappy lot of 'yes people'!
Ian Manning

Dear Oh dear! What would it have taken to satisfy Ian Manning? An audience packed with howling rent-a-mob lefties? The tone of most of the questions asked suggested that the questioner was not exactly a Tory supporter, so where this idea of a soft audience comes from puzzles me. I thought Hague at least attempted to answer without being too evasive (for a politician). I wonder if I will feel the same about Blair next week. He usually provides a straight answer - but it's the one to the question he would like to have been asked rather than the one actually put to him.
John Smith, Lincoln

Brilliant Question Time - I can see why the Tories are worried about putting an ex-Labour party contributor in as director general - he might get really biased and put William Hague on 24 hours a day - the Tories could really reach an all time low then. More William Hague, that's what we want on TV - it's the next best thing to a Labour Party Political Broadcast. I will never vote Tory while he is there!
Brendan Quinn

Does William Hague really believe that his disgust at the BBC appointment of a new director general who has paid money to the Labour Party has any hidden agenda, when no doubt the previous director generals also had political views and possible affiliations which we the general public/voters were unaware of. I feel the BB has appointed on merit given Mr Dyke's proven track record in the media. Perhaps the Conservative Party could learn the same lesson.
Mark Thomas

Why is the BBC trying so hard to prove that bias towards Labour does not exist since the new DG has been announced? The audience was as balanced as the BBC's coverage towards Man United ! Simply ridiculous. I trust that the audience will be as pro-Labour next week. In addition, the format does not work, there is no one to challenge the rubbish they spout. It is time to keep these boring politicians off our screens, until we find people who tell the truth.
Bryan Gothelf

Is this such an obvious cow-towing exercise to the Conservative party in view of Greg Dyke's appointment this week? I find it amazing that a political party should have such an influence on a supposed non-political organisation as the BBC. Why should this programme have been devoted to ONE political party when it could surely have been more REPRESENTATIVE if a candidate from more than one main party took part?
Gareth Lancaster

Birt has admitted that the BBC was biased in the past. Now we have a proven Labour supporter in charge of the BBC and in the one position that has to guarantee impartiality. How can that work?
Richard Hughes

Audience question: Is it good for democracy that one political party should get the substantial amount of its funding from one donor?

William Hague said: "No it isn't and thankfully we're not in that position ...

"The only party in which you can actually buy votes and influence, in which you get something in the party for giving it money, is the Labour Party, with the trade union block votes."

You said:

How can William Hague argue on the one hand that he would be totally impartial towards an individual or company that made a large contribution to his party, but not to have a similar confidence in the impartiality of the new director general of the BBC?
Ray

Should there not be a limit on the amount any individual can give to a political party?
Stephen Ridgway

Audience question: Why did Mr Hague spend £100,000, according to newspapers reports, to hire a firm of media analysts to monitor the BBC's entire current affairs output?

William Hague said: "It is important to monitor what is going out. It's important for any political party actually, to know what is going out on the media. This is not a new thing in the political world. The Con Party has done it in the past, I'm sure other political parties have done it in the past - because making sure that there is fair treatment on the media, so that people in a democracy can make an informed choice, hearing different points of view."

You said:

The format of your show is heavily biased to the left. There is a lack of balance in your panellist choice and a clearly left wing agenda. Your recent programme about the riot and attack on the City of London failed to ask any of the right questions and no panellist mentioned the vital role of financial institutions in earning foreign currency and subsidising the rest of the country.
Neil Davies

Single European currency

Audience question: Is your objection to the single European currency based on Britain's economic interests or is it one of principle?

William Hague said: "It's based on our ability to run our economy in our own way, in our own economic interests. I've got two great fears about the single European currency. One is that it could lead to the wrong economic decisions being taken for this country. We were in the ERM, six or seven years ago, and we came out of it in fairly disastrous circumstances. And that was, if you like, like the pilot project for the single currency. That was the temporary version of the single currency. This is the first time in recorded history that people say, 'Well the pilot project was a disaster, let's go into the permanent thing as soon as we can.'

"It's a politically driven project, it's meant to bring about the political centralisation of western Europe. And I am very suspicious of politically driven projects which people pay for with their jobs and businesses if they go wrong. And my other great fear about it is that because it's a politically driven project of centralising western Europe, it would lead to the loss of other important decisions from this country ...

"I don't rule it out forever ... let us see how it works in good times and bad. Let's see whether it leads to the loss of decision making in other countries. You don't rule it out forever and you don't need to rule it out forever. But you do need to see out a thing like this works over a period of years ...

"My position is I'm in favour of keeping the pound. I'm in favour of keeping the pound at the next election. Tony Blair's position is he wants to get rid of the pound ... And now he's scared to actually put the case for it because he saw in the European elections that people don't like this idea at all ...

"If ever the country were to contemplate joining the single European currency we would have to have a referendum."

You said:

I think that William Hague's position on Europe is simply wrong. How can we have any influence on the world stage when he proposes our being out of Europe? It is obvious that he is still out of touch with the rest of Britain, so we need more constructive leadership in the Conservative party to take this country forward and not back to the dark ages.
Mr Badhan

As far as I am aware, Tony Blair has been very clear on the subject, stating that he is committed to entering the single currency WHEN the time is right, not before. I resent the fact that Mr Hague is overlooking this crucial element of the government's position. Mr Blair will not 'jump into the frying pan to see if it is hot', he will ask the country if it wants to jump when he knows the temperature is right. I also fail to see how anyone can advocate a definite NO answer - as Mr Hague seems to be doing, unless perhaps he is in possession of a rather nifty Crystal Ball. Wonder if he'll give me next weeks lottery numbers ...
Doug Wilson

I have to say how much I agree with William Hague and his stance on the euro. It is unbelievable that Labour and a small proportion of the population want us to join the euro no matter what damage is done within the EU (i.e. 11% unemployed, massive corruption, loss of control of our economy, higher taxation, etc). Of course we should wait and see whether the euro will work before deciding on it. You will have to be suicidal to want to join the euro no matter what happens. Norway and Switzerland are a success without the EU and the euro: their unemployment levels are 4%, they trade heavily with EU members, so we certainly should not be in a hurry to decide on the single currency.
Stephen Hanwell

Isn't the question of joining monetary union too important to leave to politicians? They are directly affected by the decision and should stand aside for a commission to report on the short and long term effects. This could offer a basis on which the average person, currently confused on the issue, could make his mark in a referendum.
John Tierney

The time surely has come for the Tories to stand up now and to declare that, regardless of the economical issues, joining the euro is against our nation's constitutional interests. The Tories must consider other international interests the UK could follow, like NAFTA membership or the negotiation of free trade with our Commonwealth. The UK is NOT dependant on Europe.
Adnan Sharif

William Hague's political dogma and general lack of enthusiasm for co-operating in Europe reveals just how distant the Tory party have become from the electorate. The constant question of "the loss of power to Europe" is starting to wear thin. How about some real answers?
Hardip Bungar

William Hague¿s view of staying out of the single currency seems to smack of the 'little Englander' mindset. No rational debate just xenophobia. Plus why should the public have a referendum on membership of a single currency? Isn't it a decision for economists? Not xenophobes?
Tom Robinette

If you had a referendum on the single currency, 90% of the population know nothing about it so would not be making any worthwhile contribution (No offence meant).
Chris Collier

Audience question: Mr Hague, you've apologised on behalf of the Conservative Party for the ERM fiasco. When will you do the same over the signing of the Treaty of Maastricht?

William Hague said: "I voted for the Treaty of Maastricht and I think John Major had some real achievements in that treaty. In fact, we wouldn't be able to have the discussion that we've just been having about whether this country should or should not join the single currency, if it hadn't been for John Major and what he did at the Treaty of Maastricht. Because he negotiated the opt-out for this country. He negotiated our right to choose ...

"We want to be in Europe but we want to draw a line."

William Hague's leadership

You said:

Audience question: When are you going to stand aside and let someone rebuild the party?

William Hague said: "What we're actually doing is winning elections for a change ... I wouldn't go for good opinion poll ratings and be losing all the elections. We've just defeated the Labour Party in a nationwide election, the European elections ... Of course it's a difficult process rebuilding a political party, it's a very difficult process. But we've made a start and we've started to win again, and I can't tell you what a difference that has made within the party, and eventually it's going to make a difference elsewhere."

You said:

The leadership of the Tory party needs to take on board people who have 'thirst' to get to No 10 and political clarity as to how it would present itself as an alternative to the present 'New Labour' that people could identity with. Dabbling to policy statement at this point would be a disastrous mistake. It requires a capacity building programme.
Buddhdev Pandya

One commentator stated that William Hague ought to have more experience 'like the leaders or industry'. What absolute garbage. In my lifetime I have witnessed industrial leaders being absolutely incapable of modernising British industry, with the only weapon they used was to import cheap Commonwealth labour at the expense of giving British workforce a living wage. In 40 years the entire complexion of the British landscape has been changed by the coercion of the leadership of industry. I was in the Far East and witnessed giant cranes bearing the daubed out logos of famous British companies, creating jobs for overseas companies and nations. When I commented on this I was told I didn't know what I was talking about. I knew this much - If you remove a base industry from one country, then you lose that industry forever. When the industry goes, so do the jobs. So Mr Pundit, isn't it refreshing not to have these dinosaurs still at the helm of HMS England at a time like this?
Stephen Flanigan

Although I understand that politicians have a different stock in trade to the rest of us I find it very frustrating that they have to apologise for their party predecessors. For example the audience felt that it was fair game to berate Mr Hague for policies pursued by governments of which he had no (or very little) control. What we should judge a future Hague government upon is his intentions and his word now and in a subsequent manifesto. If we expect politicians to stick to the same line forever then nothing will change. The dangerous downside of this is that the government of the day can focus on the previous administration and stifle debate on current issues.
Mark Thompson

Audience question: Was the departure of Peter Lilley both a rejection of the Listening to Britain tour and also what the people told you?

William Hague said: "I didn't ask Peter Lilley to leave the shadow cabinet, to give up the deputy leadership, because of any difference of view between me and him. We've worked together closely in government and in opposition. I asked him to move on simply because I have to make this generational change in the party. I have to bring on new people."

You said:

Although Hague is young, remember he was speaking at party conference when the boy Blair was just an "ugly rumour"!
Paul Keenan

National minimum wage

Audience question: You opposed the national minimum wage. How low do you think wages should be before government intervenes? One pound an hour? 50p?

William Hague said: Well obviously I don't want wages to be low, I want wages in the country to rise. Our concern about the minimum wage has been that it would lead to low paid people losing their opportunity to work at all ...

" We're not against it in principle. We will judge it by how it actually works."

Northern Ireland

Audience question: Mr Hague, do you feel that with your party's historical close ties to Unionism, that you in any way could help push Mr Trimble the last extra mile at the moment towards peace?

"We're in a situation now where it's not Mr Trimble's fault that we're in an impasse. Mr Trimble has done everything that has been asked of him. And the government have done everything they were meant to do. And all the democratic and moderate parties in Northern Ireland have done what they were meant to do. The problem here is that we still haven't seen any decommissioning of weapons from terrorist paramilitary organisations. We have let out now 277 terrorist prisoners and we haven't seen a single gun or a single ounce of semtex handed in and it is time for the terrorist organisations to play their part in the peace process in Northern Ireland."

You said:

Do you not think that the chance for peace and an end to bloodshed and death, warrants the taking of a risk in accepting the Nationalist pledges for decommissioning? If there is a failure to deliver, the other parties can always pull out when this is evident - but if they deliver, hundreds of lives and much suffering may be saved. Maybe the matter should be put to a referendum, since it appears to me that the politicians are not truly representing the interests of the people in this matter. I write from Donegal in the Republic of Ireland - and I am English by nationality.
Larry Gaynor

General John de Chastelain has been employed at taxpayers' expense to report on and handle the moves towards decommissioning by paramilitaries in Ireland. A great deal of emphasis was put on his written report as being the "trump card" which would bring a settlement and a conclusion to the "peace process". Much media focus was centred on this, but it now seems that de Chastelain and his report have been air-brushed out of the picture. Could this be because his report - on behalf of the taxpayer - doesn't say what Blair and Ahern wanted it to say?
Lindsay Robertson, Staffs






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