Live chat with Tory Ann Widdecombe

Conservative politician, author and commentator Ann Widdecombe marked the launch of the Tory General Election campaign by logging on to and answering your questions in a live web chat.

Read Ann's responses to your questions on everything from being a TV celebrity to her views on political correctness in our transcript of our live chat from April 6.

Moderator Thanks Ann for coming along today - how are you?

Ann Widdecombe I'm fine thanks - glad to speak to you all.

Moderator Excellent! Let's start!

MJ Michael Howard said recently that he wants the yob culture of this country to fear the police. Is fear the issue? We had the best police force in the world, not because they were feared but because they were respected. A world of difference don't you think?

Ann No, fear can mean respect as in God fearing which used to be a common expression. A guilty person should fear being caught and should fear the arrival of the police.

Della Can you tell us if you support Equality for England, in the shape of an English Parliament with an Executive, equal to the one Scotland has?

Ann No, to create an English Parliament would be to complete the break-up of the United Kingdom. I would prefer a UK Parliament in which only English MPs voted on English matters. That seems to me much fairer than allowing Scottish MPs to vote on laws which will not apply to them.

Dubsy With your new found celebrity status through a certain TV show, how do you find the challenges (if there are any) of combining TV work with being a politician and what do you prefer?

Ann I am first and foremost a politician. Politics takes 70 hours a week and TV work about three!

Rachael I would like to ask Ann what her party would do protect the environment for our grandchildren.

Ann It is a vitally important question because most election issues surround the immediate rather than the long term future.

Conservatives will protect the environment and we would want to see Britain playing the fullest possible part in international agreements to limit the destruction of the planet. If you visit the Party's website you will see a large number of proposals covering everything from the English countryside to the globe itself.

Pat Ann, do you still think Michael Howard has "something of the night" about him? If so, is this necessarily a bad thing?

Ann I explained fully what my objections were in 1997 and I do not retract anything I said then. But this is 2005 and we have to look to the future and not the past.

Peter If elected on May 5th would the Conservative Party repeal the ban on hunting with hounds?

Ann The Conservative Party is committed to providing Parliamentary time to the reversal of the ban if that is what Parliament wants on a free vote. I support the ban and shall make this clear to my own constituents.

ac In today's Daily Mirror, there was a signed letter from Tony Blair thanking Mirror readers for their support of the Labour Party. The Mirror endorsed Labour. Is this a sign that the Conservative Party is not widening its core audience?

Ann The Mirror has always supported Labour in much the same way that the Mail has supported the Conservatives. It is the papers which do not change their line not the Party which has not broadened its appeal.

Sue Both my partner and I were divorced when we met and for personal reasons we lived together for 28 years until his sudden death aged 51 in February this year. He did not leave a will and I find that the past 28 years count for nothing in the eyes of the law. Given that a large number of "legal" marriages last for shorter periods of time, are there any plans for a Conservative government to recognise long term heterosexual partnerships?

Ann I hope not. Heterosexuals have the choice of marrying or not doing so, and if they choose not to marry then they forfeit the rights and protections that go with marriage.

Nevertheless it is important that people should be aware that it does make a difference whether you marry or live together and I suspect you were not aware of the consequences which you now face.

I do hope that you overcome these difficulties and have a happy time ahead.

Jonathan What is your view on homosexuality exactly? Do you support the Civil Partnership Registration Scheme and do you think that its about time such rights wrere afforded to gay partnerships?

Ann I do not back the Civil Partnerships Registration Scheme as it means homosexual marriage in all but name.

There is no difference between a civil marriage and a civil partnership. I do accept that there are some fairly heartless discriminations but those can be dealt with in their own right rather than by undermining the uniqueness of marriage.


Part 2: Read Ann's answers to your questions on postal voting and pensions

Part 3: Read Ann's answers to your questions on Council Tax and the Conservative advertising campaign

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