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Tuesday, 10 October, 2000, 15:54 GMT 16:54 UK
October 12, Cardiff
On the panel programme this week were: Ron Davies, Helen Mary Jones, David Willets, Allison Steadman and Nigel Havers. To continue the debate send your comments to;

The notion of a nation

Audience Question: Do you think the notion of "Britishness" is obsolete?

You said:

For years welsh people have been encouraged to be Welsh, Scottish people to be Scottish, Irish to be Irish (north or south), with many others, especially Americans adopting Irish roots, but English people are expected to be British. England has the worst supported saint's day of all the nations in the UK/Britain. I am English, not British, UK or European.
Graham, Bexhill

Dictionary definition of British: of Great Britain, or the British Commonwealth.
Dictionary definition of racist (adj): something which encourages antagonism between human races, or the belief in unchanging fundamental differences between races.
The words "British" and "racist" are therefore hardly synonyms, or is the Race Report now trying to re-write the dictionary as well as hundreds of years of British history, without which large areas of the world would have remained uncivilised? Quite frankly, this is political correctness gone stark raving bonkers, and it is doing nobody any favours.
Paul Sinfield, London

If the term "British" is to be considered racist or non-PC then what should we describe ourselves as? A suggestion could be -Tony's People?
Roger Timson, Llanelli

On the question of being British I was disappointed to hear Helen Mary Jones say she did not consider herself British. As a Scot living in England I have experienced most - if not all cultures - including the Welsh. There is no need to exclude Britishness from being Welsh, European or even part of the Global community.
Rob Richardson, Brighton

I feel that to be British is the complete opposite to being racist. The British people always evolved and integrated many cultures i.e. Romans, Vikings, and Celts. Recent times have seen us change again with more new blood and ideas re-shaping what it is to be British .
Karen Rycroft, Leicester

I think on the subject of nationality and Britishness that 'citizen of the UK' is a more unimplicating title, and one that is free of prejudice. Personally I think that becoming a member of the United States and forming a new 'country' (United Federation, or some such thing) would be more beneficial than joining the Euro since we are far closer culturally and financially to the US.
Philip Howard, Dartford

In endorsing the findings of Runnymede that "Britishness is synonymous with racism", are government ministers wholeheartedly confessing that they have no pride nor passion in their country whatsoever?
Mike Shaw, Sheffield

It seems to me to be grossly unfair that the 94% white majority of this country should be asked to re-define their history to suit a very small minority. The opinions of a minority should never supersede those of the majority, especially out of pure political correctness. It is unfair to label any person who may call themselves British as affiliated to racist tendencies or connotations as the report is likely to suggest.
Rizwan Parbatani, Bristol

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Cannabis for all?

Audience Question: If members of the cabinet and shadow cabinet can experiment with cannabis and not progress to hard drugs, why can't the rest of us?

You said:

Wow, did that really happen - Ron Davies saying that cannabis should be decriminalised? At last, maybe now a grown-up discussion can begin?
S Powell, Brighton

Perhaps the panellists associate the use of cannabis with informed, intellectual university students. However, in my experience the drug is lethal in deprived areas of society where users are ill educated about the consequences of cannabis and other drug use. We cannot ignore the bearings social inequalities have on the use of cannabis. A social smoke or a stepping stone?
Louise Brown, Glasgow

Wow, did that really happen - Ron Davies saying that cannabis should be decriminalised? At last, maybe now a grown-up discussion can begin?
S Powell, Brighton

I find it disappointing that David Willets was allowed to get away with saying that on this occasion the shadow cabinet decided to tell the truth when asked if they'd used cannabis. How do they normally answer questions then?
D M Johnson, Ipswich

I think that it would be a good idea to legalise cannabis since this would reduce the realm of the drug dealers. However I would object to having to put up with the smell and the smoke of it everywhere. Cannabis is a drug and should be treated as such, like aspirin.
Catherine, UK

A gentleman in the audience asked the question: If Ministers had been asked whether they had tried hard (i.e. Class A) drugs, would they have been as honest? This is a very good question and should not have been summarily dismissed as it was. British politics is crying out for some honesty.
Geoff Gardiner, UK

Following the logical conclusions of the argument for the legalisation of "soft drugs," presumably due to the fact that most people (including MP's) have driven at 35 mph in a 30 mph limit, we should decriminalise speeding!
Max, Guildford

Why do people complain about 100 fines for cannabis, yet don't complain about instant fines for speeding or parking illegally.
Mike Stockdale, Essex

Birth often leads to marriage; all married people tend to be born. David Willets must find it strange that so do all non-married people. That X implies Y does not imply that Y implies X. That heroin users have tried cannabis is not surprising. This does not necessarily mean the converse is true.
James Bason, Oxford

The only reason why cannabis can lead to harder drug use is because it can put people in contact with dealers of harder drugs. If it were legal you would not be put in contact with these drug dealers and it may even decrease the use of drugs like heroine.
James Torrance, London

Has anybody worked out how much tax would be raised if cannabis were sold through licensed premises AND divorce it from organised crime at the same time?
Jon Kendall, London

It is bad enough having to put up being the victim of passive smoking through cigarette smoke without having to be exposed to cannabis smoke.
A Powell, Worthing

I totally agree with Mr. Nigel Havers. I have been a smoker of cannabis for over ten years and have never touched any other form of drug nor will I. Most hard drug users take hard drugs through the company they keep and not through experimental progression.
Pauline Foster , UK

I have used Cannabis for a number of years and have never progressed to hard drugs. This seems to be the argument the government of the day uses to placate a few. In a recent survey over 50% of people have tried cannabis. How many have gone on to use hard drugs. I myself don't believe the possession of cannabis be legalised but think of the extra money the Treasury could make each year if it were de-criminalised. Charles Kennedy has got it right.
Rob, UK

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A Lib/Lab pact?

Audience Question: Is the proposal for a Lib/Lab pact undemocratic?

You said:

A Lib/Lab pact would be a natural progression in British politics, forming a natural left of centre group to counter the right of centre group the Conservatives represent. Anyone who knows anything about the Tories will know that it is not one party and never has been. The Tory Party is two parties - the Liberal right represented by people like Ken Clarke and Chris Patten and the more extreme with people like Margaret Thatcher and Ann Widdecombe. The two groups work together for purely electoral reasons - Labour and the LibDems should do the same.
Jim, West London

We have had coalitions in the past, such as the Liberal one in the 1920's which did end up delivering some very positive things. I hate party-political squabbling, it's squalid, childish and means politicians end up not delivering what they should.
Sam Chapman, Reading

Anything that is anti-Tory has to be a good thing!
Sadie, Manchester

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Spinning politicians

Audience Question: Donald Dewar was such a respected politician because he lived without spin. Should all our politicians learn from his example?

Click here to send your tributes for Donald Dewar.

You said:

Not only could they learn about not spinning - politicians could learn about passion, fairness and honesty.
Norman, Aberdeen

Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr Dewar's family and friends. He was an intelligent, courteous and straightforward politician - Scotland was lucky to have him. It's a shame we only seem to appreciate such principled people after their demise.
Tom, London

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The UN in Israel?

Audience Question: Do you think the UN should go into Israel as a peacekeeping force?

You said:

While there is a real place for a UN peacekeeping force following a resolution in the Middle East I don't think there is any scope for a peacemaking force. Such a move would inevitably require the international community to pick one side as the 'good guys' and one side as the 'bad guys'. Who would we choose?
Matt, London

I found some of the panels attitude towards Israel anti-Semitic and racist. However this is only a reflection on the bias from the media. The Arabs are not "victims" and are very much in control of their actions. Arafat is in control and is playing his people and some of the media like puppets. He is prepared to sacrifice young children for a bit of publicity. Shame on the panel particularly Ron Davies for supporting this. Listening to him I was ashamed to be "British".
L Wilson, Edinburgh

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A begging issue

Audience Question: Is it acceptable for the government to tell us not to give to beggars, especially in the run up to Christmas?

You said:

To give or not to give, that is the question - surely it is our choice and no one elses.
Sandra, Suffolk

What l have done on occasions is actually bought bread and milk or a meal so that I know it would then be eaten.
Ken Hill, Dundee

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A wig for William?

Audience Question: Do you think that after Neil Kinnock's comments on baldness, should William Hague buy a wig?

You said:

I understand Paul Daniel's is no fan of the Labour Party - maybe he could donate one of his pieces to William?
Larry, UK

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General comments on the programme:

Why was there a sitcom actor on Question Time? He had nothing interesting or insightful to say, and he contributed nothing to the programme.
Patrick Harvie, Glasgow

Can I suggest fewer guests, more questions (as a result), no celebrity guests (although to be fair Nigel Havers speaks more sensibly than most), and a change in presenter. It is not the Dimbleby show. There is no need to interrupt the speakers so often.
Stuart Cole, Wandsworth

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