WHICH would you prefer to witness, a civilised conversation or the modern equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition?

I plump for the former but, aware of today's mores, I expect some citizens like a little of the latter. If I add that one party to the conversation is a politician, the ranks of Iberian interrogators swell. Torture the blaggard! Skewer him! Trip him up and trap him!

We live in an era when politicians are despised. Irony: they're despised for talking empty verbiage but they talk empty verbiage because their interrogators make aught else risky. Left to speak, they might say something interesting. But they're rarely left to speak. So they play it safe, against someone trying to catch them out.

The inner eye is ever on the headline. To venture an opinion or originality of thought results in portrayal as a splitter, heretic, rebel or anarchist. Not good for the promotion prospects. Not good for the party. That's why they have media training, to school representatives in saying nothing and avoiding traps. Well, I didn't get where I am today by saying nothing and avoiding traps. And I say: let the politicians speak. Let's hear what they have to say.

I ululate after Sir Jimmy Young's call for a "return to politeness" in political interviews. He's 91, you know. So the former broadcaster hails from a different age, not golden – not by a long chalk – but different, certainly.

It was too deferential perhaps but, surely, there must be a golden mean between then and now, somewhere between fawning and eviscerating. Though accused of fawning to the late Thatcher, M., Sir Jimmy denies the charge, saying he may have been polite but he was always direct.

He says: "My interviews were based on a very simple premise: you attract more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.

"Today we live in an age dominated by aggressive interviewers. Politicians being accused of this or that. But I don't believe this is always the best way to find out the truth."

While ignorant of the dietary habits of flies, I agree with this. We treat our representatives as guilty until proven innocent. But it would be easier to judge them if we let them make a positive case, so we can test its strength, rather than belting them with negative accusations, for the sadistic pleasure of watching them weaken.

Alas, negativity is the lifeblood of current affairs, with every silver lining eaten by dark clouds. It's that second or third paragraph, beginning with the dread word "However", that kills all hope.

Following an unexpected windfall in public funds, all citizens are to get five grand in their pockets. Third par: "However, last night, opposition politicians claimed the cash could lead to a moral collapse. One observer predicted 'anarchy and also chaos'."

The presumption that all politicians are immoral is a recipe for anarchy and also chaos. Letting them speak could help restore some order.

If their case is rotten, let them expose it to us in full. Let's hear it from the horse's mooth rather than see them horsewhipped before they've even whinnied. By all means, ask a clever question. But then butt out and let us hear the answer. Given enough rope, any politician can manage to hang themselves adequately. But we don't give them the chance.

When I was a regular attender at Holyrood – twice a week for years; embezzlers get less – my speciality was keeping a weather eye on the duller debates. That's where, bored themselves, politicians cut loose and became expansive. Poor things. They'd make an ill-advised remark – or "joke" – then their smile would die like sun shut out by a cellar door as they noticed the lone avenger sitting in the gallery. Worse still, they could see his pen still smoking from the words burned into his notebook. Yes: the Notebook of Truth. Ha-ha! Feel free to join in with a debonair, devil-may-care laugh of your own.

Listen, if we keep silencing our politicians with interruptions, we'll never get a chance to laugh at them. Let them have their say. Then, when they're done, let's all titter politely. That'll soon shut them up.