i believe they've done it in france recently too, but i think only in public sector/nationalised areas (schools etc). i have to confess i'm torn on it - my liberal, freedom of expression side thinks that as an expression of religion it should be left alone and people should be able to wear it as much as they want. however, my secular and feminist sides don't see eye to eye with me on that! personally i think as a secular nation (which france definitely is, the uk is in practice if not in theory, and i don't know about belgium actually) then ALL religious symbols should be kept to an absolute minimum in areas where the wearer is a public servant or in a public institution (like in school, for instance). as for the feminist bit, i just tend to see them as symbols of oppression. i know a lot of women choose to wear them so i argue with myself quite a lot on this one, but i think given the historiography of *why* women choose to wear them i still come down on the side that they symbolise the oppression of women. that said, if a woman really does want to wear one, if it's in her own home or in the street or whatever, i'd never try to stop them! just as i wouldn't expect anyone to stop me smoking in my own home or an outdoor public place. it's all about tolerance. and even the most tolerant person alive probably has that bugbear issue that digs at their normally liberal outlook (hell, i'm sure even gandhi & the dalai lama hate something!). for me, it's religion, i totally believe in freedom of expression and that includes religious freedom, but a big part of me wishes i could have a magic wand and just ban all religion outright because it just makes me so bloody angry. but then, i'm a vicar's daughter, i guess it stands to reason:lol: as for ukip, well, they're just a joke, no one really takes them seriously (apart from kilroy and he's a joke too!) yep, i do - and this is the problem, the government are more inclined to listen to the rantings of the press than their own appointed advisers, because the appointed advisers can't bring them down. i wish there could just be a reasonable debate on this subject without everyone kicking off. it's unlikely.... i didn't watch it, i wasn't in the best of moods and they were only going to piss me off :lol: i did see a little of it, the bit about the pope's visit, what was that all about? i can see why the question came up: blair converted to catholicism during (or maybe just after) his terms, and as a nominally anglican and practically secular nation i think it was relevant to find out just why the pope would be coming anyway. and given all the scandals in the catholic church right now (*must not get started, head might explode with rage*) i think it was kind of relevant. i think the more relevant part of the question was the bit they all ignored - about how far they were going to tackle him on issues like contraception, aids in africa, abortion, gay rights etc. there are a lot of catholics in this country and the church really does need to get with the programme. the fact that it's been doing massive damage in africa by putting it around in "lessons" to the people that condoms spread aids (*listens* yep, that's the sound of my head exploding), that's an issue that affects us as well, because aids in africa and the consequences thereof can impact on our economy when it comes to things like aid. not to mention the fact that catholic (and one or two other religions') faith schools are trying to teach a separate sex ed agenda whereby it's taught that gay rights are wrong and sinful and/or that contraception is wrong and abstinence until marriage is the only thing (ha, try telling that to a room full of 15 year olds!) - since blair reintroduced the idea of privately backed state schools these really do have an impact, these ideas are going to affect people's education and in this country we're generally pretty modern and tolerant and progressive, i think it should be important to find out if catholic schools' doctrine in this country is going to be holding people back. so i think the point of the question was more along the lines of "are you going to try to make the pope see sense on these issues that really do have an impact on people's lives?" as opposed to "will you have fun when the pope comes over?" i switched on about 5 mins before that question and once they'd answered it (badly) i promptly switched off again! i assume you mean immigration?! emigration is people leaving:lol: yeah it's a dodgy issue - i don't know what to make of it, but i wish, like you, they'd had a referendum when it really started being an issue. i believe australia have a cap, and they also have the thing brown's proposing whereby you have to have a "needed" job skill/qualification, so if they have too many plumbers and you're a plumber, they'll not let you in. one of my friends went over there to be a hairdresser because apparently they had a shortage (!!!!!:lol one thing i always find really really weird is that it's generally the right leaning parties that are more anti immigration. but right leaning politics, on the whole, is all about free market economy which includes free movement of labour, which includes free movement of people. it's one of those glaring contradictions that i've never quite got my head around. as for the EU thing, i'm not so sure, i believe most of the poles that came over recently have now returned, or at least are only here some of the time. and frankly the ones that are here i think we need, because as mentioned in a previous post on education, we don't have enough labourers. i think the big problem was just that labour underestimated just how many people would come from the eu - i think they estimated 300,000 or something and it was almost a million. i can't remember the figures but something like that. i realise we're only a small island but i really don't see immigration as that big a problem. i mean, i think something has to change because we're gonna be full up soon, but it's such a tough one to legislate on. i laughed recently when some politician said "immigration has never been a problem in the uk before" (it might have been last week's debate actually i'm not sure) and i was just like "haven't you heard of the windrush? or the big influx from asia over the last 50-100 years, the huguenots, the jews in the east end, the bloody norman conquest!!!???" - i think for me that's the biggest problem, we are all getting het up about this as if it's a new problem but it's been going on for ever, we're a nation of immigrants and we should be proud of our multiculturalism, and every time there's been a big immigration backlash in the past (the most obvious example being the windrush) it's usually amounted to nothing, numbers have settled down, people have learnt to get along, it's really only the people like the bnp who continue to make an issue of things. er, just about.... what a mess!