It’s fair to say that seeing Portsmouth’s political leaders having a go at each other is an unedifying spectacle.
Were it only a one-off, part of the hurly-burly of political debate, it might be something where we could look the other way.
But in recent months the tit-for-tat political one-upmanship between current council leader Donna Jones and former leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson has become simply embarrassing.
First of all we have Cllr Vernon-Jackson saying the new council regime is ‘run on fear’.
Then, in response to the Lib Dems revealing she had spent £6,000 revamping her office, Cllr Jones tweeted about ‘Gerald Vermin-Jackson’ – hardly the kind of thing you’d expect from political leaders in the city.
The latest spat is the icing on the cake. Cllr Jones reads a comment from a report about why pubs are failing and Cllr Vernon-Jackson takes it out of context and pillories her for not backing small businesses.
It would be laughable were it not so serious.
These are the people leading the parties making the big decisions about what’s happening in this city. They have a huge budget at their fingertips.
And yet seemingly they can’t resist the urge to take sly digs at one another, whether through the pages of The News or – more likely – on Twitter.
So today we back the Taxpayers’ Alliance in its view that we need to put an end to Punch and Judy politics.
It does no-one any favours, whether it’s the rowdy embarrassment that is Prime Minister’s Question Time in Parliament, or these two fighting it out on social media.
It’s a view supported by former city MP Syd Rapson, who echoes the Taxpayers’ Alliance comments by saying: ‘There are far more serious things that need attention than name-calling.’
He’s right about this war of words. To paraphrase Mr Punch, we say to Cllr Jones and Cllr Vernon-Jackson ‘that’s not the way to do it’.
Let’s hope this is an end to what’s been a pretty poor episode in the political life of the city.