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


March 2, London

Your emails and a selection of the panellists' comments are published on this page.

Click below to watch Question Time's special debate on London's mayoral contest in Real Video:

On the panel last week were:

  • Ken Livingstone MP, defeated Labour candidate for London mayor
  • Frank Dobson MP, Labour's official candidate for the London mayoral election
  • Steve Norris, Conservative London mayor candidate
  • Susan Kramer, Liberal Democrat London mayor candidate, and
  • Sir Tim Rice, Academy Award winning lyricist

The topics discussed were:

Letting Pinochet go

Audience Question: Does the panel agree that it's an injustice for a government with an ethical foreign policy to release a mass murderer, e.g. General Pinochet?

Steve Norris: When he arrived he got an official red carpet welcome and then found himself arrested whilst under anaesthetic in a London hospital. Not many sane people can have the slightest sympathy for Pinochet - I certainly have none. The inept way in which it was handled reflects badly on everyone involved. The Chileans are having a difficult time coming to terms with democracy and the battle with the military.

Ken Livingstone: I regret we didn't make a much more rapid decision. That's not Jack Straw's fault, that is our legal system. We have established a precedent inconceivable a few years ago. People guilty of torture can be arrested anywhere in the world. Nobody has to prop up unpleasant regimes simply because they're on our side. They can be judged on how they treat their own people.

Susan Kramer: We've at least established a principle that you can't come to Britain and hide behind an old title. We desperately need to have an international criminal court. People who have died and have been tortured do have a right to justice. The government of Chile is now thinking twice.

Tim Rice: It's a wicked world out there. Once you start to do this you're going down a slippery slope. We wouldn't like it if one of our leaders were arrested. You could argue that Tony Blair was responsible for murders in Yugoslavia. This is another lesson that the government hasn't delivered, like the lesson to Saddam Hussein and the lesson to President Milosevic. They're still there.

Frank Dobson: This isn't a question of alleged crimes. He murdered and tortured people who stood in his way. There isn't any excuse. I'm very sorry he hasn't been extradited to Spain and faced a trial. Retired torturing tyrants will no longer be coming to London.

You said:

The House of Lords authorised the detention of persons in the UK under the provisions of the treaty without any consideration of the evidence. Under the old extradition law it was incumbent on the extraditing state to prove a prima facie case by appropriate evidence. Under the provisions of the treaty any person may be held and extradited without the UK court considering at all the strength of the evidence.
Name withheld

Pinochet should have been tried in absentia, with one of his lawyers representing him. In any case, his crimes do not warrant a fair trial. Why should he get what he denied to his opponents?
Hugh Oxburgh, Cambridge

To those who say that he should not be extradited on the basis that the people of Chile have decided not to prosecute him: The Spanish want to prosecute him for crimes against Spanish citizens not Chilean citizens. I would want my Government to try and prosecute a dictator from a foreign country for murdering fellow citizens - if it could get their hands on him/her.
J Rex, Margate

It strikes me as altogether holier than thou for Spain to request and strongly argue for the extradition of General Pinochet when over one million people were killed in their own civil war yet no one ever faced criminal charges. This is a matter which Chile has to come to terms with itself in the same way as countries such as South Africa are now doing. Pinochet should have been free to come and go in the UK as he wished.
Roddy Beveridge, Edinburgh

If Jack Straw is minded to release General Pinochet on the grounds of failing health, isn't it about time that Myra Hindley was also released as she is suffering from serious health problems? Margaret Thatcher has argued that the way Pinochet has been treated since arriving here is disgraceful as he was an ally of Britain during the Falklands War. Do you accept this argument? If so, would it then be right to say that if Britain had been allied with Germany during the Second World War (and there is historical evidence to show that this was a distinct possibility) that we would have been perfectly justified to protect Adolf Hitler from any sort of prosecution for human rights violations?
Joe Byrne, Manchester

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"Ken, do the decent thing"

Audience Question: Ken Livingstone lost the ballot to become the Labour candidate to become London mayor. Shouldn't he now do the decent thing and support the official Labour candidate, Frank Dobson?

Ken Livingstone: I think the Labour party has made a terrible hash of this. When you add up the votes that real people cast I got 74,000 votes and Frank got 22,000. It's about the right of Londoners to decide who they vote for. Unelected party bureaucrats thought they'd be very clever and pushed through a system they could manipulate. They think people are stupid and they won't notice. But Londoners have noticed and we run a real risk of losing the election. I'm going to give Labour time to dig itself out of this hole. We've got meetings across London where local ward Labour parties are discussing resolutions calling for Frank to stand down. I don't want to break the commitments I gave but I see the opinion polls and I know what my post-bag is saying. Frank will stand down because he will understand that you can't win an election on this basis.

Susan Kramer: Londoners want this farce to be over. It's time to focus on issues. It's time to put up or shut up. The media think the only thing Londoners are interested in is celebrity.

Frank Dobson: When I decided to run I assumed it was going to be on the basis of one member one vote. I got 40% of the vote even though a lot of people said they wouldn't vote for me because of the system. I could have got 50% with their vote. I'll say it to your face, Ken, I am the official Labour candidate and I am not going to stand down. No matter how much you and your friends try to have a go at me I will not change my mind. Are you going to support me or are you going to stand separately?

Ken Livingstone: If you're not going to listen to Londoners how will they trust you to defend them against government cutbacks? I'm going to give the Labour party the time to sort out the mess. I'm not indecisive. This is about Londoners' right to chose the candidate they want. One trade union boss cast 4% of the vote without consulting his members. One co-op cast 4%. If they had consulted their members Frank would have lost by 8%. I've spent 30 years of my life in the Labour party. I love it. All my friends are in it. Londoners would rather Frank stood down. You say you got 40% of the vote, well I got 60%.

Steve Norris: You start with a corrupt process, ours was hysterical, but we had one member one vote. Blair said this was the system that elected him. But when he was elected every single union balloted its members. One trade union leader, already knighted, and keen to express his gratitude to the prime minister, took the decision on his own not to ballot his members.

Tim Rice: I hope we don't have a repeat of what happened last time round when Ken was leader of the GLC. I personally wouldn't have a mayor at all. The choice between you two, it's like which root canal work you'd prefer.

Ken Livingstone: That is why this is the most difficult decision of my life. I've been deluged by support from the ordinary public. I still want the Labour nomination. I spent two years telling people I would be allowed to seek the Labour nomination. Nothing is never in politics. How we elect people in a democracy is not a side issue.

Frank Dobson: It was only because I intervened that you were allowed to get on the ballot paper. Ken and his mates were always in favour of the electoral college. I have every sympathy with Susan Kramer for raising the issues. I would guess that Ken will run.

You said:

One of the most important roles of the London Mayor will be to attract the Government's attention and help on a great range of issues. It is hard to believe that an independent Ken Livingstone will get a great deal of sympathy from the cabinet. If he is so sure that the people of London will back him up, then he should stand, his stake being ostracism from the party.
Peter Davis

I began fighting for the issues that effect us in the early 80's as a teenager. I remember the 'fares fair' and all the work of the GLC including the work of the arts such as 'The Bubble theatre'. Ken Livingstone would win as he has proved his ability in the past.
Marcelle Richardson, London

Would it be fairer to the national political battleground, the eventually elected Mayor of London, and most importantly the people of London, if the Mayor were to be totally independent of the mainstream political parties? Allegiance to either the government or the official opposition will have an effect on upward influence and on budgets.
Lance Mitchell, Barton-le-Clay, Beds

Who on earth agreed to the selection process for Mayor? This whole issue will come back to haunt them. It is such a pity that on the one hand the Labour Government has done so much towards the greater good of this country and yet makes such a pigs ear of small issues such as its own selection process for the mayoral candidate. Why is Labour so worried about dissent and debate within its own party?
Benjamin Tarrant, London

Perhaps Tony Blair will now realise that the people of Britain have seen him for what he is, a man who wishes to give the impression of devolution whilst keeping all the power to himself. This is no different to the old USSR where you could vote for whoever you liked provided it was who the leader wanted you to vote for.
Ian Strong, Weymouth

The Labour party is not the same party that Ken once joined. Of course it has evolved into an electable party, but I don't think Ken should feel he is betraying the party that has refused to listen to what most of its ordinary member clearly want.
Jacques Le Vene, Milton Keynes

As the European Union cut ties with Austria following the formation of a coalition government involving the far-right Freedom Party, can we expect the same intervention from Brussels should the far-left Ken Livingstone be elected as London's mayor?
Derrick Stansfield, Gravesend, Kent

If the government are so intent on having their "own man" in the position of mayor why offer the position up for election in the first place? Why not appoint a cabinet minister for London? All that has happened so far indicates that the government only wishes to create the illusion of a democratic process and are prepared to use any device to ensure that their own views prevail.
Michael McConville, Coventry

Tony Blair, as leader of the Labour Party had every right to appoint the Party's mayoral candidate, perhaps in conjunction with the National Executive Committee. No-one has ever felt the need to say it is undemocratic that a Prime Minister personally appoints every one of nearly a hundred ministers in the Government. I find the concerns of so many people that we are suddenly living in a dictatorship, based merely on the technical details of an internal Labour Party selection process, perplexing to say the least.
Simon Grossman, London

The GLC was very popular with Londoners and many remember policies such as subsidised transport fares, a generously funded arts program, more housing plus many other issues. Londoners identify these issues with Ken Livingstone which brings me to the conclusion that Mr Livingstone is electable as an independent.
David Larkin, Los Angeles - formerly of Stoke Newington, London

I don't know a single person who thinks the Labour voting system was fair, and I don't know a single person who won't vote for Ken. I respect his wishes to not split the party up, but I fervently hope he will stand, he is the only person who could actually do the job and support Londoners, not their party.
Andy Hughes, Woodford Green

Regardless of Ken's previous record, it's obvious that Londoners want Ken Livingstone as mayor. Steven Norris in his time as minister for transport was known as minister for roads and cannot be trusted. Frank Dobson is not even from London: going to & from Westminster in the company car does not make you a Londoner. Can we have a party now please?
Chris James, Hackney Wick, London

I was in the audience tonight and if the audience was representative of the London voting population then Ken Livingstone will walk the election. He was by far the most popular member of the panel and I guessed about 80% of the audience wanted him to stand within or without the Labour party. Poor Frank looked very demoralised!
Nick Posford, London

I feel that it is time that "New Labour" adopt a one member one vote system. They must also change the first past the post system. The personality issue is overshadowing everything else which is a real shame, because there are some really important issues at stake. As a commuter into London I do not get a vote but am effected by what happens in London. London requires a central control with real power.
Chris Mitchell, Chatham, Kent

Would you buy a used car from this man?
Peter Leach, Epping

As a long-term supporter of the Labour Party, rarely have I seen such an ineffectual performance by a senior politician as that, that Frank Dobson gave tonight. He has been stitched up by the leadership in being persuaded to run and we, the electorate have been stitched up by the heavy-handed manoeuvring to ensure he wins.
Nick Allott, London

Never mind London - does the rest of the country want the Labour Party weakened by the loss of Ken? If he stands independently then this is what will happen. He is listening to Londoners, but what about the rest of the country? The country in general needs Red Ken, and London has its Labour candidate in Frank Dobson. Let's drop the histrionics and get back to reality: London is not the centre of the universe.
Kay Ley, York - yes we exist up here!

I strongly believe that the way the Labour mayoral candidate has been chosen is a travesty of justice. Ken is absolutely right when is says that it is a fundamental issue to the election. I have never voted anything else but Labour but if Frank Dobson continues to stand I will not vote for him - so Frank - YOU do the honourable thing - never mind the electoral college - just listen to what WE are saying.
Bina Serling, London

Frank Dobson's abject performance tonight merely reflects that he neither has the personality, or popular support to carry it off as London mayor.
Gary Rayment, Northampton

Like it or not the election of London Mayor is primarily about exposing the control freakery of Millbank Tower. Blair has got to be taught a lesson that he cannot on the one hand advocate devolution whilst on the other hand he believes he should still control devolved institutions. He has not learned the lesson from Alum Michael, so he must learn it from Ken Livingstone.
Jim Bogusz, Bolsover

If Ken Livingstone does not stand as an independent he will be despised by both the left and the right. The London Socialist Alliance are standing candidates in the Assembly elections. Ken should begin talks with the L.S.A and give Londoners a real alternative to Tony Blair and his second-hand Tory policies.
Andy Fairlie, Stockport

Why should Ken Livingstone abide by the fixed result that elected a Blair puppet - if the election had been conducted in a proper manner Ken would have accepted the result. Why should he be forced to stand by his pre-election promises when the election was not conducted fairly? He gets my vote and I am a Conservative.
Eric Lacey

I find it disgusting that Ken Livingstone, having known the rules for the election, should having lost the election, now say that the election was corrupt
Eddwyn

I have voted Labour all my life, so I fully sympathise with Ken's dilemma. I will be voting for Ken as I have no faith in the Labour party with how they have corruptly shunned Ken and also their policies especially in regards to transport. Well done Ken for speaking honestly about your situation.
Elizabeth Rudwick, London

It is becoming apparent, particularly with the Labour mayor fiasco, that Party politics is dying out - we are entering the realm of poodle politics. Those that are seen as not being poodles are very popular.
R Bartlett, Nottingham

We think that the mayor of London should be independent from any party political influence. This would mean that the mayor could represent London without compromising the party line.
Myra Major, Guildford

In all the years of union block vote, I cannot recall Ken Livingston calling for its abolition.
Frank Furey, Newry

Why do the New Labour hierarchy persist in giving a false account of how Tony Blair was elected leader of the party; namely One Member, One Vote.
Mark Vadgama, London

Mr Livingstone would like us to see him as cuddly Ken but what did he really do for London between 1981-85? Fairs fare, cost millions and was proved to be unlawful.
Kingsley Jolowicz, Uxbridge, Middlesex

Why should Ken Livingstone show loyalty to New Labour when it has unashamedly tried to vilify and alienate him?
Duncan Morris, Brighton

As a lapsed Conservative voter, I wonder if others feel the same in me about voting intentions in the forthcoming London Mayoral elections, namely that if Ken Livingstone stands as an independent I will vote for him, but if he stands as the official Labour candidate I will vote for Steve Norris?
Clifford, Surbiton

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A single issue campaign?

Audience Question: If after this fiasco we do get to vote is it going to be a single issue campaign - are we only going to talk about transport?

Susan Kramer: It is overwhelmingly going to be about transport because that is what people want. The future of the tube is very important. Labour are talking about a public-private partnership but that is going to be too expensive. Issues of affordable housing are also going to get on the agenda

Steve Norris: If you ask black, Asian and white Londoners what the issues are, they all have different priorities. One in four Londoners is of an ethnic origin. Crime and the relationship between the Metropolitan police and the public are going to be even more important issues than transport.

Ken Livingstone: 70% of people make transport their top priority. A lot of people can't get to work on public transport, and half the kids have asthma. The mayor's being given enough powers to sort out transport. Unemployment, art and culture, and environmental issues also need to be discussed. I think the candidate doesn't matter: the government's proposals don't add up. It's not an ideological issue. Who would borrow a 15% mortgage when you can have a 5% mortgage? You can't run a public transport system on a profit. Londoners would punish a government and a mayor who couldn't work together.

Frank Dobson: Many Londoners are being priced or rented out of accommodation. Women and old people are frightened of walking down the streets. We've got to have a real blitz on crime. We inherited a disastrous transport system from Steve Norris, who was transport minister in the last government. We need to transform our system and need to rebuild all our tube lines. We have to have a system where the underground is exclusively the responsibility of London Transport and is safe. Ken and Susan reject a public-private partnership. In London the Docklands Light Railway was built on time and within the budge under a public-private arrangement. The Jubilee Line extension financed in the traditional way was two years late and £1,700m overbudget.

Tim Rice: You keep running London down, Frank. I agree that London is the most dynamic city in the world. We have to build on what we've got. People don't always walk around in fear of murder.

You said:

Frank Dobson is clearly a good and honest man, but the question on the funding of London Underground exposed him as a Millbank stooge. Londoners are shrewd enough to see what an expensive farce Public/Private funding will be. Whilst Ken Livingstone gave an unequivocally clear message on public funding for the tube via bonds, poor Frank prevaricated and skirted for as long as he could until he was forced to concede he would set up an 'independent' committee to look at the issue. The man is so clearly in the grasp of the Government he cannot possibly serve the interests of Londoners.
Richard Gibbs, London

How can first time house buyers buy property in London considering the astronomical house prices? Won't this problem eventually lead to people with average incomes being forced to move outside of London?
Nathan G Ashcroft, London

Why is this government so hell bent on reforming local government structures when they must be aware that the vast majority of local authorities and their members are so vehemently opposed to it? Would it be sensible for them to adopt the old adage "if it ain't broke don't fix it?"
Councillor Stewart Glasgow, Alton Hampshire

Will any of the those standing for the Mayoralty have the courage and the intelligence to stand up for cannabis smokers and their rights?
Thomas Tallon, Blackheath, South London

I want common sense for London not political correctness. Transport, crime and refugees are the problems I see and hear about day to day from fellow Londoners. I'm a Labour supporter but I'll vote for Norris rather than go back to the bad old days of the GLC with RED KEN.
Mark Pemberton, London

As an émigré Londoner who has lived in the USA heartland for nearly 20 years, I can assure all Londoners that they must, above all, avoid a total surrender to privatisation and the mighty automobile. America should long ago have been renamed Carmaggeddon.
Peter Tooth, Lincoln, NE, USA

London is regarded as a booming, prosperous city. There is a danger that there is not enough focus on attracting yet more business and prosperity to London. What would the panel do to attract more business and events to London? I see that as the solution to wiping out what poverty there still is in London, and I am worried that Ken would frustrate business in the name of helping the poor.
Chris Barnett, Londoner (in the Netherlands)

In the light of the disastrous break-up and privatisation of the national railways, is it right that both the Government and the unpopular London mayoral hopeful Frank Dobson should be suggesting that the London Underground should follow suit and be broken up and part privatised?
Matt Mitchell, Newham, East London

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Dithering over Mozambique?

Audience Question: If a celebrity gets lost at sea or in the desert there's an immediate rush to find them. Why's it taken so long to aid the people of Mozambique?

Tim Rice: All the help given so far is not enough. But we shouldn't blame ourselves. We should help other countries, in Africa, help Mozambique.

Susan Kramer: We don't know where the tragedies are going to come. We've been calling for some time for a UN rapid reaction corps to react quickly to these situations. When you start to look at these things the lack of organisation is almost frightening.

Frank Dobson: What's happened is on a phenomenal scale. There are 12 helicopters there and nine have been either provided or funded by us. The odds are there will be similar problems and since there is no longer a cold war I don't see why we don't get the UN to have two aircraft carriers on standby in the Indian Ocean.

Steve Norris: One person who's worked very hard on this is Clare Short. She's not getting the support from the MOD. They regard it as less of a priority than defence. In certain circumstances we can move a huge number of people across the globe. We would want to see our military forces more involved in humanitarian operations.

Ken Livingstone: For the media and government the lives of people a long way away are not as important as people here. A few years ago one newspaper had the front page headline "Coup in Nigeria" but another paper had "Robin Day Mugged" on the front page.

You said:

The reason why perhaps that the army is "Dragging their feet" as Stephen Norris put it is that not only do they not have the manpower to send people to Mozambique but also the army seems to be in everyone else's back garden, Bosnia, Kosovo, Ireland, Germany etc. Is this an aid force in places such as Mozambique, or a defensive force, organised and well staffed.
Vicki Chadwick, Salisbury

Whenever there is a disaster around the world, there are calls for the MOD to do more to help. This ignores the fact that the Army has been cut in recent years by 25% (over 25,000 troops). The armed forces do not have the resources to do all the jobs it is being asked to do, let alone to take on any more commitments. If the people of this country want British Armed Forces to help around the world, then we have to be prepared to stump up the cash somehow to give them the kit to be able to do it.
Jonathan Rex, Margate

Why hasn't the United States helped in any way till now? And what about other African countries? If they are helping it is unfair not to have mentioned them at all in the news because this is worthy of mention. Also, wouldn't it have been easier if Mozambique had a standby rescue team to aid in such circumstances? It's rather a shame that all the able-bodied guerrillas scattered over almost every part of Africa haven't volunteered to rescue the victims of the flood.
Maria Brimah, London

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London's Mayor: The musical

Audience Question: By the time the Mayor of London is elected does Tim Rice think he'll have enough material for a musical and would the panel go to see it?

Tim Rice: The thing that amazed me was how friendly they are to each other backstage. They get out here and they're vicious Rottweilers.

Frank Dobson: I think it's a Rocky Horror show.

Steve Norris: It'll play well at Christmas because it's a good pantomime. Personally, I was hoping to get a part in this new Jeffrey Archer play. It's a wonderful final twist to the whole sorry tale.

Susan Kramer: I want front row tickets. If there's a female part, I have a monopoly.

Ken Livingstone: If you do you won't find anyone with a worse voice than mine.

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Your general comments on the programme

As always, an outstanding programme. The all-hell-let-loose moments and the predictable snipes, at times inept, made by some of the "candidates", so well and beautifully handled by Mr Dimbleby, made one really absorbed by the programme. It's the stuff that makes real life politics so interesting to the observer.
Lilian O'C., London

Since less than 50% of those eligible to vote actually did vote at the last general election, is this the time to follow up on Ken Livingstone's comments on electronic voting?
Adrian Thurston, London

I find Mr Dimbleby's flippancy and disregard of the situation of the peoples of Mozambique most distressing. The aid effort that is ongoing in South East Africa is not just a matter of 'plucking a few people from the trees' where it sounds as if he thinks they belong, but an international programme to cope with over 1 million people whose whole livelihoods have been literally washed away.
Darren Cooper, London

When will MP's realise that there is life north of Watford Gap? Programmes of this type of debate only further alienate the 'North / South' divide, even though it purportedly does not exist.
Mike Hooper, Edinburgh

Can we not persuade Tim Rice to stand as Mayor for London?
Mr Jeremy Norris, London

Am I the only person getting just a little tired to this totally boring contest? And please don't any of the candidates try to tell me that they are participating for the benefit of the London people. Like all politicians, I'm afraid it is all about power and ego.
Robert Chapman

It would be nice to hear the occasional mention of one personality who is regularly ignored, namely the Green candidate Darren Johnson who was elected by one member one vote months ago.
Nicola Watson, Lincoln

I was in a pub down Old Compton Street the other day and this geezer comes up to me and he says (mind you he was a bit of a nutter, if you know what I mean), he says, "There's this world outside London, you know mate" So I says to him, "but London's where the BBC offices are, cocker, " and he just shook his head and walked off.
Joe Taylor, Leeds

I feel that David Dimbleby was absolutely rude and ignorant to Frank Dobson. He was much kinder to all the other participants. Poor Frank was made to look like a victim. The fact that the audience "joined in" the conspiracy against Frank just made me more despairing.
Kathleen McGuigan, Whitburn, West Lothian

Was it just me or was Mr Dimbleby unfairly pressurising Ken Livingstone tonight. How much had the producer briefed him that getting a will he/ won't he answer from Ken was the most important thing in the programme?
Wayne, London

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