'Politics should not be an ugly person's showbiz contest', says Ed Miliband as he announces plans for public Prime Minister's questions

Labour leader told Andrew Marr that if he becomes Prime Minister he will hold regular sessions where he takes questions from members of the public
  • @andymcsmith

Ed Miliband has said that if he becomes Prime Minister he will hold regular sessions where he takes questions from members of the public – who will not be handpicked Labour Party supporters, he promised.

The suggestion is part of the Labour Leader’s campaign to change the culture of modern politics, which he complains treats the way a politician looks as more important that he or she believes in. Politics, he told BBC 1’s Andrew Marr programme, should not be “an ugly person’s showbiz contest.”

He admitted to being impressed by the way the Scottish referendum has engaged people north of the border in politics, although as he admitted, Labour was opposed to holding the referendum in the first place because they do not want Scotland to leave the UK.

He also said that Nick Clegg’s decision to put himself through a weekly radio phone-in programme on LBC was the right thing for him to do.

He added that he plans to submit proposals to the Commons Speaker, John Bercow, for reforming Prime Minister’s Questions, which has been criticised for being rowdy and confrontational.

“What we need is a public question time, where regularly the prime minister submits himself or herself to questioning from members of the public in the Palace of Westminster on Wednesdays," he said.

"Why is that important? Because I want to let the public in to our politics. At the moment there is the glass that separates the public in the gallery from the House of Commons, but there is a gulf miles wide between the kind of politics people want and what Prime Minister's Questions offers."

The sessions wouldn't necessarily be held every week, but would happen ‘regularly’, he said.

The interview was held after the Labour Leader’s speech last week in which he tried to take head-on the fact that he is unable to match David Cameron’s easy, camera-friendly manner.

Opinion polls have consistently that while Labour is ahead of the Conservatives, people believe Cameron is better Prime Minister than Miliband would be.

Mr Miliband expressed his frustration that more attention is paid to the way he looks than the things he had said on a range of issues including zero hours contracts, the cost of living, and the Middle East.“I happen to think that more important than whether I happen to good eating a bacon sandwich,” he said.

A spokeswoman for John Bercow, said: “The Speaker will look at Mr Miliband's suggestions with interest, when he receives them. Clearly, any changes would be a matter for the House.

"The Speaker's special Commission looking at the effects of the digital revolution on our democracy has received similar suggestions from people outside Parliament. However, it is clear that within Westminster there is also an appetite for further reforms to the way the House of Commons conducts itself."