Got an unusual e-mail from the Evening Standard yesterday asking me to write them something about John Prescott's latest travails. Bashed out 200 words and they rang me asking for more! The image on the right is the version that they printed, while below is the original. Thanks to Jimmy and Adam for advice on the first drafts! Here's the article in full:
John Prescott’s authority has evaporated. If he’s no longer trusted to speak in front of his own party at this year’s conference, how can he be expected to command the respect of the country while deputising for Tony Blair?
As politics looks to a new generation of leaders and ideas (with the exception of the Lib Dems), the Deputy Prime Minister is putting the brakes on the renewal which the Government must undertake if it is to hold on to a majority in 2009/10. His bumbling persona and the misjudgement he’s shown over the past months suggest that someone who’s credited with keeping the cogs of the government well oiled would perhaps be better off putting his talents to use on a model train set.
Beneath each revelation about Prescott there’s the smell of something else going on. Rumours of further affairs continue to abound on the internet, and his explanation for the free gifts received from Philip Anschutz lack credibility, making him a continued liability.
His fate will depend on whether the media think his many errors of judgement are affecting his ability to do the job properly. The media's coverage of Prescott has in many ways been unfair. The Sunday newspapers in particular have thrown around allegations without much foundation, and there's a danger of Prescott's demise all becoming an in–joke amongst political journalists and commentators.
But the fate of Prescott should be of wider interest beyond the tittle–tattle. The current housing crisis has, for nine years, been Prescott's responsibility and he's demonstrated no ability to fix the problem which is set to leave a generation of people unable to buy their own home. Similarly, the Conservatives have pulled ahead with new ideas on the environment because Prescott's ineptitude gave them so much space in which to work. The torrent of accusations and revelations make it very likely that Prescott will go soon, but his performance as Deputy Prime Minister should be reason enough to give him the boot.