Clegg: Best thing about PMQs is no-one watches it

By Ian Dunt

The only saving grace of prime minister's questions is that the public don't watch it, Nick Clegg has said.

The deputy prime minister's comment is likely to produce raised eyebrows in Downing Street.

Asked by a Liberal Democrat member whether he would be instructing his MPs to not engage in heckling during the session, Mr Clegg replied: "The only saving grace is most people don't watch prime minister's questions.

"They don't watch this display of tedious tribalism."

Mr Clegg argued that parliament's "19th century macho culture" had as little to say to modern Britain as "dinosaurs have to say to my children".

The comments came at the end of a Q&A session which prompted many observers to remark on the deputy prime minister's surprisingly aggressive posture. At one point he told off a member in the audience for not listening to him properly.

"We've had a really tough year but we've got to stop beating ourselves up over it," Mr Clegg told party members.

"Don't look back at coalition. Our conscience is clear."

David Cameron promised to end the 'Punch and Judy' atmosphere of PMQs when he became party leader but later admitted he had failed.

Speaker John Bercow regularly calls on MPs to calm down but to little avail.