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Page last updated at 08:50 GMT, Tuesday, 10 May 2011 09:50 UK

Politicians 'are human beings too'

Politicians have never been popular, but a new book called In Defence Of Politicians: In Spite Of Themselves sets out to persuade us to give them a bit of slack.

"If we believe in representative politics, we need politicians," its author Peter Riddell told Today presenter Justin Webb.

For example, "denouncing betrayal" he said, narrows the space they are able to operate in.

"They are human beings like the rest of us. We shouldn't treat them either as heroes - who can do no wrong - or villains - who always, all the time do wrong."

But Quentin Letts, the acerbic sketch writer for the Daily Mail, wasn't convinced. While going on about U-turns could be boring, one reason why our politicians are better behaved than their colleagues in Europe, he said, was that "we are fairly rude about them".

"The voters like vituperation. They quite enjoy the knockabout stuff. We're on about the right level."

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