i Editor's Letter: Let's put meaning back into our so-called political debate


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The Independent Online


I never write about PMQs. What’s the point? Unlike most of us here at i Towers, with televisions permanently set to Sky News, you are far too busy for the weekly shambles that passes for accountable democracy in action. “Members mustn’t shout at the tops of their voices at the Prime Minister,” shouted John Bercow, the Speaker, yet again amid the braying cacophany yesterday.

He is right, but, when you actually hear what the PM and the rest have to say, it is usually enough to make you wish you hadn’t tuned in, just this one last time.

This is not anti-Cameron. It was no more enlightening under Blair or Brown, nor will it be so if Miliband or May stand there. Notwithstanding, yesterday we heard our “tough on bankers” PM, defend them; the “all in this together” leader dance on a pin head to avoid calling the heinous “bedroom tax” what it is; and use the tired, increasingly lame device of blaming the previous Labour government for today’s mess.

The opposition is no better. All positions are pre-ordained of course, and there is never genuine debate. From Ed Balls down, they help turn PMQs into a circus that only contrives to turn potential voters off, particularly the young, themselves constantly admonished to grow up to be polite and respectful. But when the young lapse into boorishness they are called "yobs". Not MPs.

We can let this sorry situation continue inexorably until a UK Beppe Grillo wins a third of our votes. Or a cross-media, cross-bench movement should be born to put some unfashionably earnest meaning back into our so-called political debate.