• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Labour leader: Give public a voice in Commons

ED Miliband has proposed a Public Question Time in which members of the public would have a regular chance to grill the Prime Minister in an attempt to bridge the "miles-wide" gulf between Britain's political class and voters.

SNap: Andrew Marr discusses public image with Labour leader Mr Miliband, who seems to enjoy his comparison with animated character Wallace. Picture: Getty
SNap: Andrew Marr discusses public image with Labour leader Mr Miliband, who seems to enjoy his comparison with animated character Wallace. Picture: Getty

The Labour leader, who last week sought to take head-on criticism of his "geeky" public profile, insisting it was substance and not style that voters wanted, claimed he did not have a leadership problem.

Rather, he suggested, politics was suffering from a disconnect between the public and politicians, and in a bid to help remove it, he suggested an interaction between the PM and voters.

"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.

"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 Commons, but there is a gulf miles wide between the kind of politics people want and what Prime Minister's Questions offers."

The Public Question Time would take place once a fortnight if the plan won the approval of Commons Speaker John Bercow.

Mr Miliband praised Nick Clegg for seeking a direct link to the public through a weekly radio phone-in, and suggested he would soon do the same.

The Labour leader stressed his initiative was not a gimmick but a serious suggestion. "I want to find ways to change our political culture," he said.

"It's not just about photo-opps - that is a problem - it is deep and it goes well beyond that."

The issue of PMQs has exercised a deal of political debate lately. At the year's outset Mr Miliband adopted a "serious and sober" approach, trying to avoid Punch and Judy exchanges with Mr Cameron. However, this barely lasted a month.

Mr Bercow has frequently upbraided ministers and MPs for their barracking, and said that some women MPs absented themselves from Question Time because of the histrionics.

Last week, the Deputy Prime Minister branded the weekly half-hour session a complete farce.

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

250824