Is it safe to release people with tags?
Clive Anderson (TV broadcaster): Doesn't sound safe but we have a huge prison population. We need to integrate people back into society. A good half way house? But this can't go too wrong as people won't stand it. An experiement worth having.
Alan Duncan (Conservative Shadow Trade Secretary): No, and it's getting worse. This is meant to rehabilitate by phasing in, but this is being forced on us by the prison crisis. There are only 80,000 prisoner places - with only 200 places left. Government is to blame. Is challenged by David Dimbleby (DD) on how you can predict prison population. Duncan bats off question. No applause yet.
Vera Baird (Labour's Constitutional Affairs Minister): A great opening line - "he would say that, but he's wrong." Defends the Labour government line. Praises the judges - says that tagging is not meant to reduce prison numbers. It is a halfway house. Challenged by Duncan and DD on that matter - says it helps but that isn't the main purpose. Rather a lot of praise for Home Secretary Dr Reid. DD asks if the numbers will change the policy. Baird says no. Still no applause.
Member of the audience says she cannot work out what tagging means. Surprised to note that tagging doesn't mean an absconder will be picked up.
Nicola Sturgeon (SNP Deputy Leader): Tagging is good but no alternative to prison. Says Scottish prisons are at 15% above capacity. Says that prisoners re-offend. Wants alternatives to custody. But we must lok up dangerous people. Applause at last.
Audience: Tackle the causes of crime!
Tommy Sheridan (Founder of Solidarity Party): Speaks of his time in prison and the number of people with drink problems. Says we need confidence in the system. Suggests leagalising cannabis to cut prison numbers. Gets a small clap. Says that tagging is prison on the cheap - blames government too,
Baird: Says none of the people released are violence.
Anderson: They are made violent by prison. Clap for a very stupid remark.
Audience: Programme has a good effect on re-offending rates.
Anderson: The scrubs was built by prisoners ... wants a third cut off sentence for good behaviour and a third if they undertake work to build more prisons. Big clap.
Baird gets out of that one very well. Quite impressive so far.
When can tabloids investigate the private lives of MPs?
Duncan: Politicans should never complain about the press. The press do behave badly and often not warranted. He says he has suffered. Says that the newspapers shouldn't break the law or fake things. DD asks why Duncan was investigated - says he can't remember. Says the press should remember about the misery caused by family. Says we should have a free press. A good, honest answer. Audience member laughs at this.
Sheridan: Says he is sensitive. Says 42% of all press is owned by Murdoch - not free press. Drags journos down to the gutter. Murdoch is vindictive against people he doesn't agree with. Says the press can get stuck into politics. Hates the Sun and News of the World for following people and for enjoying people's pain.
Audience: Does Sheridan regret wriiting a column for the NOTW?
Sheridan: Never have!
Strugeon: Justified when the press thinks that a public figure is in the wrong or being hypocritical. Should never use children or break the law. However they should also be held accountable. Also backs the free press. Somebody jests that it is only OK if the MP is a Conservative! Sturgeon agrees with this - Anderson quips with "you can't have one rule for the Tories and one for the Tommies." Sturgeon is humiliated by the audience laughing at this. Agrees that Labour is as bad as the Tories. Says Sheridan has integrity but people won't vote SSP again.
Audience: Should hunt down hypocritical MPs, but it should only be exposed if it affects their work.
Sheridan: Papers should only attack love-rat MPs if they lecture other people about their lives and their morality. "The NOTW lied about me"! Says the NOTW still hasn't paid.
Anderson: Backs freedom of the press but doesn't like the papers. I'm finding Anderson very irritating. Press like stories with sex in it - soap stars, TV presenters etc. But it isn't their fault because we like reading it! Says that Murdoch isn't plotting personally against Sheridan.
Sheridan: Impossible for working class people to get justice in issues like this because there is no legal aid. People need lawyers! Jury decided they believe Sheridan rather than Murdoch.
Baird: Doesn't need to be hypocritcal - all politicans are targets. So much press intrusion in MPs families too.
Audience: Appeal is a right, Sheridan would have appealed! SSP rejoiced with McLeish (former First Minister) and McLetchie (former Tory Leader) fell.
Audience: Sheridan puts self image above his party.
Audience: Country is run by business and the press.
Audience: Why has this taken up so much time in the show?
Sheridan: Doesn't oppose NOTW appeal. Murdoch hates socialism and trade unionism. Gets a big clap.
Why should countries with nuclear weapons stop other countries from having them?
Baird: We have reduced our nuclear weapons. Is non-nuclear but wnats to listen to the arguement.
Sturgeon: Doesn't want North Koreans to have nuclear weapons. Should act to stop them. But UK should reduce our nuclear weapons.
Duncan: North Korean has a risible nutter as their leader. Get real. Shouldn't give up nuclear weapons because people would take advantage. Most serious forum is India and Pakistan.
Anderson: More worried about nuclear power than nuclear weapons. Makes a feeble gag about Bush.
Cue big row on QT about America, Iraq etc etc Have swtiched off. Have found a blog written by one of my students - you can find it here. My lessons are described as fun but fast moving. I'm also the most important Tory in Norwich South - hurrah!
Is Gordon Brown too Scottish to be PM?
Sturgeon: Brown is trying to pretend he isn't Scottish! He isn't fooling anybody in England and is annoying Scotland. Why isn't he trying to be PM of an Independent Scotland!
Anderson: Scottishness shouldn't get in the way. This is put about by his rival - ironically John Reid (who is Scottish). Raises the West Lothian Question. If Brown doesn't get it, it'll be a tradegy.
Duncan: Shouldn't matter where you come from. There is, however, tension between England Scotland and that needs to be sorted out. Duncan says he was misquoted on Brown. Says his policies will lose him the election not being Scottish!
Baird: Says Brown is proud to be Scottish. Gets big laughs by saying Blair is a democrat.
Decsends into chaos again. Come on DD get a grip.
Cue another boring question about Iraq.
Thank god it is over - a great start but became very predictable.