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Thursday, 20 July, 2000, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
July 6, Brighton
In the last show of the series Tony Blair answered questions from an audience in Brighton.
Audience Question: If a boy of 16 is found drunk on the street - who should pay the fine - the boy or the father?
Tony Blair: Well I can't think to what you are referring! I think that if anyone breaks the law they should suffer the consequences. If he has done something wrong, then he should be arrested. I don't ask for any special preferences. On the spot or summary justice is a much better system that going through the court system where people are getting let off. I do think that a £100 fine would deter people from drunken and violent behaviour and I haven't dropped this idea - fixed penalty notices are another option.
Tony Blair is not just one of the best Prime Minister we've ever had, but also an ordinary parent who is experiencing what all parents have to go through at one stage or another....
There may be one reason why Tony Blair's eldest son refused to give his real name and address when the police arrested him for underage drunken behaviour. Perhaps the police might have thought that Euan Blair was taking the mickey if he told the police that he lived at 10 Downing Street or he was the Prime Minister's son? He probably didn't want to stick out like a sore thumb, and so told a lie about himself to stop making attention of himself.
As I understand it, Mr Blair's son was asleep outside the Empire on Leicester Square.... the only risk surely would have been to himself.
He's 16yrs old.... let him grow up like the rest of us!!!!!!
"Would a £100 fine have deterred your son?" This is a ludicrous question. The punishment Euan has received at the hands of the media today is far worse than a £100 penalty.
I hope that Mr Blair will insure that any penalties/or fines his son is given are paid out of his own pocket. I have been through this with my own son. I never tried to stop him drinking just warned him that if his enjoyment impinged on anyone else's rights or freedoms he would be grounded
I am disgusted that the story of Euan Blair was made such a big story. I am 15 years old and do not deny I have used alcohol without my parents permission therefore I know mistakes happen. In my view people should sympathise with Euan about how easy it is to make mistakes. But I think that on the spot- fines are unfair for people under the influence of alcohol who are not causing trouble.
England's World Cup bid
Audience Question: Is England's failure to win the 2006 World cup bid more to do with Government inactivity on legislation than an inadequate bid?
Tony Blair: Well I think the hooliganism didn't help the bid. It was always going to be tough for us - but still worth trying.
Apparently we have an unhealthy appetite for drink in this country, why is its ritualisation not actively discouraged amongst our youth when the outcome is so detrimental to our countries well being?
The suggestion made for future overseas football matches, that anyone who looks like they might cause trouble wont be allowed to attend the football matches abroad, seems to me to be blatant discrimination. Has Mr Blair heard of equal opportunities? I hope they would be detained for a more concrete reason than on looks/dress?
Investing in the euro
Audience Question: Why would Britain want to join the euro, when we are doing do well without it?
Tony Blair: People are coming here because we are part of the European Union, and if were to say we are ruling out the euro then that inward investment would pull out.
Tony Blair was absolutely right to face down the Europhobes during Question Time and say that he would recommend entry into the euro. We are a European nation, through geography, culture and history and is a terrible waste that we continue to marginalise ourselves politically and economically by keeping out of the euro. It is not the Labour government that should be accused of spinning, lying and propagandising over Europe but an unelected and unrepresentative press.
Membership of the euro is not in the interests of the UK because;
If having a 'single' currency is important why do Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia choose to have different currencies. If a single currency is so important why did The Czech Republic and Slovakia choose to have two separate currencies. The fact is that as the UK has the 5th largest economy in the world it is not essential to adopt anybody else's currency.
I think Tony Blair is right when he says it's an economic question now, not a political or constitutional one. Blair said it again last night, that when the economic conditions are met, it would be appropriate then to hold the referendum and give people the right to decide.
What would be wrong would be go in for political reasons like the Tories did with ERM, which had disastrous effect of our economy. It's the economics stupid!
Blair has admitted that his position on the single currency may be unpopular, but at the end of the day he said the choice was one for the people. The only reason that this should upset the sceptics is if they fear they cannot win a referendum on the issue.
Regarding Nigel from Madenhead's comments:
Why Nigel are you Anti-EU's so violently opposed to Monetary
and Political Union with Europe, because you believe it would
"surrender Britain's Sovereignty", yet you are all quite happy to "surrender"
our political control to America.
Do you honestly believe that America would let us do as we please in such a
situation? I don't!
Why is the UK so sceptical over entry into the Euro, it is inevitably going to happen. Forget the media's anti-euro stance.
Blair is right, it will be good for business and it will improve foreign relations.
Does Tony Blair intend to in some way try and create the required 'economic conditions' so that we can then go for the euro? Or is he going to leave it to chance?
Would it not be worth considering that the UK should join with the USA and link with the dollar instead of the euro?
We have much more in common with our American cousins, we share a common history, speak the same language, and also perhaps more importantly the pound has largely been in sync with the dollar.
The only people who don't want the euro are those who read the Tory press. I have never been asked whether I want the euro, which I do.
With regard to the Euro, are so many people against it due to a romantic notion of identity represented by bank notes, rather than considering the very real benefits the euro could bring.
Justifying the hike
Audience Question: How can the Government explain the huge rise in petrol prices?
Tony Blair: The facts are that for the first 2 years we operated the fuel duty escalator and were responsible for the rise in petrol. For the past year the 18p increase - 16p of which has come from the increase in oil. I can't promise that I can take the increase down.
We were told last night that the high price of fuel is due to the high price of crude oil. If my memory serves me well, the price of crude has (in the past) reached $35 a barrel, yet fuel wasn't as high then - neither was the amount of tax!
The reason people are unhappy at the petrol tax hike being 'justified' by the need to pay for health and education, is that prior to the last election, Tony Blair made many messianic pledges about improving health and education -without raising taxes! We do not like paying more for petrol, but we even less like being deceived and it is this that will make this government lose credibility and become unelectable.
It is so difficult to believe that we have a Labour Government. The increases in fuel prices which, Mr. Blair claims, pay for hospitals and schools are hitting the poorest members of our society the hardest. It seems that he is so busy sucking up to foreign investors and animal rights extremists that Blair has forgotten the good people of this country and his core supporters, something which will certainly tell at the next election.
Whilst I accept that choices have to be made when it comes to overall budgets in the case of increasing fuel tax to aim for something that has nothing to do with transport there is an unfair result. Those that live in the country will be penalised. Many better to hypothecate tax. By doing that it is easier for us to swallow the bitter pill. To pay for health increasing taxes on cigarettes, etc makes more sense if the resulting increase in revenue was hypothecated to health.
Instead of trying to find the appropriate funds to pay for the health service if the fuel tax levy was reduced, would not the introduction of medical insurance offset the reduction in fuel prices?
Mr Prime Minister don't you think that by cutting income tax and raising the price of full duty your simply giving with one hand and taking it away with the other and the only people that will really suffer with the high full prices are the elderly pensioners and other low income families.
Audience Question: Are you more spinned against than spinning?
Tony Blair: There are 2 types of agenda at the moment - one is a soap-opera agenda and the other the serious agenda - I'm on the side of the serious agenda. If you can tell me who the "close sources" are then I'll sack them, if not lets get on the job of sorting out jobs and education.
Those who accuse Labour of being all spin but with nothing solid at the centre are often guilty of the very thing they accuse Labour of: not mentioning actual policies, not looking at the real issues, but simply giving an unsubstantiated impression about something instead.
Tony Blair came cross as honest and in touch with the feelings and concerns of the electorate.
I think he hit the nail on the head when saying the British media diverts the public's attention from this country's real problems. Too often we are suckered into following the media's own vitriolic agenda.
The one piece of clear evidence is the fact that the Labour party have arranged for Peter Mandelson (the ultimate spin doctor) to relinquish his very difficult post in Northern Ireland, barely a few months after he took up the post, to come back to Westminster, just in time to spear head the next election campaign.
Does there need to be any further proof that Labour are spinning out of control?
Blair has learnt his style of politics from his mentor Clinton. What he is now learning from the British public is that Clinton's system of government by lies, abetted by media spin control, does not fool all the people all the time.
Millennium Dome - why?
Audience Question: How does the Prime Minister justify the money spent on the Millennium Dome?
Tony Blair: It is important that we get the figures right, much of it came from the Lottery and some from the private sector investment and no actual tax payers money. But it has given many thousands of jobs to a completely derelict area in the East End of London.
Tony Blair should be ashamed of himself for trying to blame the "last administration" for the dome debacle. Is he so out of touch with the country that he doesn't realise that the public don't object to the dome, the site or the initial financial structure. The people are staying away in droves because of the rubbish that is inside the thing!
Mr. Blair was swift to enthuse about the project and portray it as his own when he came to power; it is pathetic to attempt to wriggle free of the blame now.
Part of the Prime Minister's 'Dome' defence was that some of the money came from the lottery. Earlier in the programme it was said that fuel prices could not come down because they pay for other services. Is it not possible to put two and two together; lower fuel prices and the lottery pays, in part, for some services?
Policing the fox hunters?
Audience Question: With so few rural police how will fox hunting - if criminalised - be enforced?
Tony Blair: Help for rural policing is on the way - an extra pot of money will be made available adding an extra 100 police to rural areas. I can only hope that if fox hunting is banned than people will act in the appropriate way.
The Prime Minister stated that more funds would be made available for increasing the number of police in rural areas. Where are these men coming from, because as I understand it, men are leaving the police in large numbers because of conditions and not because of pay.
I think that all those aristocratic lovers of hunting foxes in such a cruel and inhumane manner are all a little strange and completely ignorant. If fox hunting was made illegal (which I feel it should be) people would not be allowed to do it and people wouldn't. If they then did, they would be arrested. It's as simple as that!
How is it possible that 1000, let alone 18,000 people as quoted are employed by what is essentially a tiny minority leisure pass time? What on earth are these jobs?
I noted the number of questions about foxhunting and the 5 to 8,000 job losses. This seems to have motivated the Tory voters from the countryside. I wonder whether they showed the same attitudes and concerns when it was 200,000 miners and their families being targeted by one Madame Thatcher and her Government. What was the real cost of that to the country based on the figures for the cost of the job losses in the foxhunting community?
Why can't people accept that banning fox hunting is a moral issue, not an economic one? Job losses and problems keeping fox populations down are irrelevancies. The real question is; as a superior species, do we have the right to exploit lesser species? If people think the answer to this question is yes, can they at least have the honest to say this rather than hiding behind statistics.
Lorry driving teachers?
Audience Question: How will the PM ensure that teachers don't leave education to become lorry drivers?
Tony Blair: Firstly by paying teachers more and secondly by getting investment in the school system which lifts people morale and lets them see they are working in state education which is improving and not declining. There is nothing more important than education.
The Government must realise there are other people involved in schools other than teachers. Schools are currently losing valuable staff because of the contract terms and salaries for classroom assistants and secretaries. The holidays are fabulous but they are unpaid and it is difficult to find a job for the unpaid 9 or 10 weeks each year. More recognition for the high workloads these people face each morning must happen before it is too late.
With reference to the school teacher that has given up his career to become a lorry driver, does he not realise that he joins an industry that is equally regulated by European legislation, and bureaucracy, as his own.
He will find that, due to lack of training within the industry, there is a shortage of qualified drivers etc.
The UK industry that he chooses to join is currently under extreme pressure due to escalating fuel costs and massive competition from mainland Europe.
The Prime Minister should appreciate the real disenchantment in the profession as to the practicability of doing the job properly as a long term career. Value your teachers, Mr. Blair, not with platitudes, but by understanding the increasing complexity of the job and doing your best to establish a reasonable expectation of what any individual can be expected to do.
Would a Headmaster not reject the idea of paying teachers extra for excellent performance due to the fact that the extra pay would be deducted from the schools budget and therefore reduce any performance related pay i.e. bonus that he/she would receive?
I do not understand the subject of the nations teachers having pay rises. It's as is they are saying that they are more important than the rest of us. Surely if their wage went up than the national minimum wage for everyone should rise as well.
If the Prime Minister is so concerned with education, presumably he therefore understands the need for teachers to prepare and evaluate stimulating and challenging lessons for their students. How can he therefore justify asking teachers to spend, on average, 10 hours filling in a form justifying a £2000 pay rise?
The PM failed to answer any of the questions to do with the threshold payment to teachers
with any real understanding of the key issues to do with teamwork and morale.
At the end of the programme he suggested that the results of the tests this year are better than ever before. On paper, yes, but in truth I would say that the goalposts have been changed and that pupils can achieve the 'expected' level (4) more easily than they could in the past. Standards have not improved; the tests have become less rigorous.
Would the Prime Minister consider introducing Performance Related Pay for MP's
In connection with the question on teachers pay, why is it that teachers consider themselves to be different from any other occupation. In the real world you are employed to do a job for an agreed salary. If you then wish to earn more than what you agreed to you either seek promotion or look for another job.
As a teacher, I would strongly urge the PM to reconsider social inclusion. Ordinary schools are not like the Oratory and it is very blinked of the PM to ignore our plight. Sir, come into real schools and see the damage it is doing. Teaching is more stressful for staff and children know that they are fireproof.
Facing the WI - again!
Audience Question: As president of my local Women's Institute, what subject does the PM think he would be able to give an interesting speech on - nothing political of course?
Tony Blair: I've always thought it was rather odd for a Prime Minister to be invited along to the WI and not talk about politics!
Leave the man to have his shot at running the country, and let the bored [right-wing almost by default] housewives get back to their jam-making and cross-stitch. As both the WI conference and the questioner show, they clearly lack the maturity needed to engage sensibly in debate of serious political issues, problems and their solutions.
General comments on the programme:
Tony Blair stormed Question Time tonight. After a difficult day he came over as a genuine human being - not the control freak the papers paint him as. He is clearly committed to improving the lot of ordinary people. Why can't politics always be like this?
The BBC really showed its Labour leaning last night. Why did David Dimbleby not give Tony Blair as hard a time as he did William Hague the previous week?
When I read in the TV guide that Tony Blair was going to be on QT I thought that he would've got a roastin'. However, I thought by the end of the programme he 'came out on top'. He has my vote!
I've never had too much of a problem with Tony Blair myself; I think he has good ideas and principles. The difficulties just lie in the practical application of the theories.
I hope the Tories never get re-elected on the basis that they spend all their time (in office and out) trying to stop anything getting done with their perpetual criticism and neothandathal 'neoliberalism'.
Tony Blair should try his hand as a dictator - put his foot down a little; it would do him, and us a lot of good. I suggest he politicises the masses a little more and tries his hand at the art of the purge.
Tony Blair's performance on QT was a brave display in the face of that day's hot topic. What came across most was his appearance as a sincere "decent guy" with problems like the rest of us and as someone who truly believes in doing his best to make this country a better place to live in - for the many, not just the few. Traits I would never attribute to Thatcher, Major or Hague
I think Tony Blair was excellent and answer all of the questions
what is this euro parlava all about.
I don't take much notice of all the goings on around the world until last night when I switched to BBC and got engrossed in your programme and I'm only 22 years of age.
I am from Ireland and would not have any interest what so ever in British politics, but last night I was just flicking through the channels when I came across your programme. I must admit it was very interesting and I watched it until the end. I must also say that Mr. Blair handled himself very well and I was very impressed with him. Once again, excellent program.
The Labour Government endlessly places blame
on 'the last administration' for difficult problems but never gives credit for the excellent economical situation which was 'inherited'. Why is the Government never reminded of the terrible
situation which the Conservatives 'inherited' from
the last Labour administration and took the Tory
Government years to overcome?
Excellent programme (Tony Blair).
Chair was very well handled
Give the Prime Minister a break and ask him how Leo is coming along!
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