Prescott and the Bloggers, Round One…

My friend Tony used to box when we were teenagers. He used to say that the trainer’s job was to convince each boxer that on entering the ring he would beat the other man, however uneven the fight. Well, John “two jabs” Prescott went a full twenty minutes with John “the slayer” Humphrys this morning over the recent allegations, and the old bruiser from Hull won it on points.His best blow was a counterpunch to Humphrys’ assertion that as Deputy Prime Minister, he Prescott had become ‘a figure of fun’. Prescott then noted that Humphrys himself had become ‘a figure of fun’ and accused him of behaving at times as though he were the Deputy Prime Minister himself. He then followed through with a reference to Humphrys’ demand for compensation when the details a private after dinner speech he gave were leaked to the public last September.

This has been a two pronged attack. As Iain Dale (for the prosecution) correctly points out though, Prescott did not answer the question of whether he had had affairs other than the one with his diary secretary Tracey Temple. It certainly doesn’t throw a very pleasant light on the DPP, but it’s not the killer blow the Casino affair would have been if either bloggers or the BBC had landed a clean blow.

Prescott is emphatic that he had no part in the decision making process re the Casino. And, as yet, there is no paper trail connecting him with such. No doubt the FOI resquests will be hurtling into his beleaguered department to see if there were any live connections, but without an insider lead that can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Although his career is further bruised, he is likely to remain free to continue in (what’s left of his) office. However the interesting thing from a blogger’s point of view is that the BBC has dared get so close to the controversial end of the blogosphere. Dale makes no bones that he is an activist intent on inflicting legitimate damage on political opponents. If he does get to land a square blow on his opponent, the big media (as evidenced in today’s Independent) will be quick to snap it up.

It’s getting to be a tough new world where previously invulnerable private elites cannot expect the discretion of ‘friendly’ journalists in the pre-internet era – Dale’s point about the former Lib Dem leader’s drink problem is a case in point. The official media gatekeepers no longer have sole possession of the key. This is something that some of our own political parties have been slow to learn the lessons of.

And yet bloggers too need to be careful that when they throw a heavy punch that they actually land the blow. Otherwise the suspicion of cynicism rather than healthy scepticism will creep into the space. And that’s something that can grow inwards as much as towards the intended target.

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  • Back in May,
    Ian Dale published

    Pam Ayres & John Prescott’s ‘Little Ditty’
    I am ready Mr Prescott
    You can take me in your arms
    All these years I’ve waited
    To experience your charms
    So fling aside those trousers
    I hope they’re quick release
    For all that hanky panky’s
    Made you clinically obese

    I like a man of substance
    I like a man of size
    Especially when I’m measuring
    The bags beneath their eyes
    If anyone insulted me
    I have no doubt at all
    You’d leap to my defence
    And punch the blighter through the wall

    I like you Mr Prescott
    A constant watch I keep
    To see you on TV
    Sat next to Tony, fast asleep
    So I’m waiting Mr Prescott
    My toothbrush in my bag
    To see your chiselled jaw
    Behind the wheel of either Jag

    A man like you is dangerous
    A man like you is trouble
    Just like a row of houses
    You demolished me to rubble
    With one hand on the tiller
    As steady as a rock
    And the other disappearing
    Up the secretary’s frock!

  • Fergus D

    These rumours about possible affairs Orescott may have had – what relevance are they to his role as an MP or Deputy PM? I don’t care about them, per se. If he has provided favours to his mistress(es) using his office (cf Blunkett), then fair enough, same applies to his family, friends etc. But who he has sex with is, in itself, a private matter. He hasn’t made pronouncements on the “family” or the “sanctity of marriage” AFAIK, so hypocrisy in this area isn’t an issue.

    Improper dealings with this casino milionaire, yes, that’s serious – if true.

    There is also the issue of whether the govt should really be going so far out to encourage gambling.

    There is definitely a “Get Prescott” campaign from the Tories. I think he is a buffoon, but he should be treated fairly.

  • merrie

    Fergus D:

    I agree with you thoroughly. There is so much hypocrisy especially in the media about what should be private and really not our business.

    I know many people condemn Jeffrey Archer, but was it really the newspaper’s business that he had sex with a prostitute? It should not have been published in the first place, then Archer would not have asked his “friend” to lie for him, and have himself commit perjury, etc.

    Ditto Clinton and Lewinsky – once again not in the public interest, not our business. I read recently that Newt Gringrich was having an affair at the same time he was condemning Clinton – a much more intense one than Clinton’s dallying.

    The attack on Clinton did much more harm to the US presidency than Clinton’s relationship(s).