I doubt if there was a pact between the Conservatives and Labour to "Quieten Down" Prime Minister's Questions this week. But an agreement that politicians should try to treat each other with a bit more respect would not entirely be a bad thing.
There are a number of reasons why public respect for politicians is at an extremely low level. Some of it is because of behaviour by some politicians which, alas, does not deserve respect, of which this was the most recent example.
However, most people involved in politics are not corrupt.
The point about a democracy is that we all have one vote and if democracy is working properly those voters who also stand and run for office should in a real sense be seen as the equals of those who participate only as voters. "Pravda" like subservience to political leaders and Paxman-style disdain are neither of them particlarly healthy because it impedes proper debate whether politicians are seen as superior or if they are treated with contempt (and all the more harmful if the contempt is deserved - although in that case it is the people who earned the contempt, not those who feel it, who should be blamed.)
Over Christmas John Rentoul wrote an amusing piece on the top misused fables which you can read
here. Another such fable, one of the late Bob Monkhouse's most amusing jokes - that the only time politicians tell the truth is when they are calling each other liars - is in my experience almost the reverse of the truth.
In both the parliamentary campaigns which I have fought, and in my local government experience, the time when otherwise largely honest politicians showed themselves least likely to be fair and truthful was when they were attacking their opponents.
Ever since Tony Blair and New Labour set out to systematically trash the reputations of their opponents, particularly their Conservative ones - one of two of whom deserved it, many of whom did not - the politics of personal destruction has dominated the language of political debate. And on, I'm afraid, all sides.
How can we expect the public to respect the people involved in politics if both the established political parties and "anti-politics" ones like UKIP are all constantly depicting our opponents as idiots or crooks?
Another good piece by John Rentoul over Christmas summarising some of the recent debate on this subject is
In the recent past political activists have felt they have to trash their opponents because the perception has been that it works. I'm not convinced that it still does as many voters seem to be sick of the nasty type of politics. Maybe it is time to try to get away from this sort of campaigning. Or at least to dial down the proportion of negative campaigning and restrict it to those who really deserve it.