When you wrote in with questions for the Prime Minister, Deputy PM and Leader of the Opposition just before Christmas, we were struck by the huge number of you who said you were turned off politics by bedlam at Prime Minister’s Questions. “Today in Parliament makes me squirm with embarrassment when I hear the jeering,” wrote Carole Atkinson of Barrow-in-Furness. Rosemary Ridgway spoiled her ballot paper, dismayed by the expenses scandal and “childish behaviour” in the Commons.
The Speaker agrees. In an interview with i’s Don Macintyre, John Bercow revealed that he has written to Mssrs Cameron, Miliband and Clegg proposing talks on public discontent at politicians’ conduct in the chamber. Passions will be roused, he accepts, but the Commons can be “very male, testosterone-fuelled”, with “yobbery and twittishness”.
Mr Bercow is unpopular among some MPs, but on this he is right. When an MP lowers himself to playing a bit-part as chimpanzee at the zoo tea party, it fulfils our worst fears of our elected representatives. I hope the three party leaders will agree to meet Mr Bercow, in the hope that pride can be restored to the supposed “Mother of Parliaments”.
Thanks to the hundreds of you who have written in response to our announcement about an i price rise to 30p. We appreciate the support offered by so many, but we know that the increase can dent budgets, and I’ll address readers’ specific points here throughout the week – please write to me at email@example.com.
Starting with the supportive – and you can read a representative selection of messages on page 14 – are the likes of Rob Stubbs on the Wirral (“At 30p, and with the editorial quality and content it possesses, i is excellent value”), Greater Manchester’s Ann Marie (“no problem”) and Tija Martin-King (“I enjoy reading your paper immensely”).
Others have reasonably asked: why a 10p cover price rise in one go? “I appreciate that with costs going up it is only right that you should raise the cost of your exceptionally good newspaper,” writes Mike Sherriff. “However would it be not more practical in these times of austerity to raise the price by 5 pence?” Michael Alderson of Stockport echoes that.
The short answer is that the 10 pence doesn’t go to us, but towards increased print costs (which we have been reluctant to pass on to readers, even now), a little to wholesalers and to retailers who were so supportive when i launched, and to cover some costs associated with our reporting – for instance, sending correspondents to dangerous places.
Unfortunately 5 pence wouldn’t have covered this, and rather than bring in a 5 pence rise a while back and return for some more soon after, we held off as long as we could.
In reply to queries about using subscriptions to “lock in” the old prices (between 14p and 16p for each edition) - please see the details online here. Please keep the questions and suggestions for the paper coming.