Sunday, April 30, 2006
A Prescott Resignation could Prompt Leadership Challenge
The nature of his crimes entail not just lurid bonking(the entertainment from which we are grateful for) but: deceiving a wife very popular in the Labour Party; having an affair with an office aide, suggesting status exploitation; and using the perks of office like access to Dorneywood and official cars, to pursue his affair. This last might occasion investigations of improper conduct at an official level as the MoS suggest has already been initiated. But it is the implications of the affair which bode even more ill for Blair's limping administration.
Coming on top of the Clarke foreign prisoner debacle and Hewitt's travails with an overspent NHS, the removal of the DPM might precipitate that deadly challenge to Blair's leadership which will possibly sound his death-nell. My analysis has been that he can tough it out as long as Labour MPs see their own fate as synonymous with his. This forces them to keep the daggers sheathed but recall that in November 1990 a fair wedge of Conservative MPs calculated that Thatcher's continuation in office was unacceptable and moved to depose her. If nothing else the DPM's role as a trusted mediator between Blair and Brown has been torpedoed and we might just be seeing the barriers to a leadership challenge beginning to be removed along with Big John. No wonder the Observer's editorial, calls for a rapid infusion of new blood via the reshuffle which most expect to follow in the wake of next Thursday's woeful local government elections. Clarke and Prescott will be lucky to survive even until then.
(ii) "decieving his wife". How do we know this? who knows what goes on behind the Green Door? Since (if Guido is right) there seem to have been at least three mistresses I doubt if she had no inkling whatever of John's extra-curricular interests, unless she is as dim as a door-post. But in any case whose business is it except theirs? (In some other countries it would be considered odd if a leading politician did not have a mistress).
(iii) "misuse of the perks of office". Honestly. So Tracey stayed at Dorneywood - Blair has his chums and cronies (Cliff Richard and the like) stay at Chequers at the public expense (Although presumably he doesn't shag them. Perhaps - and this is an ever more unsettling image - they pray together).
(iv) "status exploitation" Possibly, and serious if true (it would never happen on a University campus would it?); but the affair itself doesn't prove that, and we are talking about a mature woman.
I think Prescott has treated Tracey Temple very badly and she deserves her revenge. But Prescott's main crime is that the Tory press hate him and he has made himself look ridiculous, generating acres of negative publicity in the tabloids and the broadsheets. I agree that this is the key factor.(It looks as though Blair thinks Prescott is more expendable than Clarke). On a more serious note, it does presumably mean there could be an election for Deputy Leader (even if Blair doesn't apoint a DPM); this could be a chance (if enough MP's can be persuaded to sign up) to stand a "stalking horse" against Blair.
I'm on your side re the morality of this but was trying to write about the politics of it. Personally, I don't think there was any real 'status exploitation'- and yes, it does happen on campus, though never, (to my chagrin), to me-as she did not seem to be unduly over-awed by the DPM- frankly, who would?-but was wholly, as the courts would say, 'consensual'.
Yes, if Prezza resigns, there will be pressure to re-elect a DPM and such an election will be a door against which the anti-Blairites will seek to throw all their weight. On ething is certain, Prezza has lost all authority in his descent into a laughing stock; imagine the noise when he next stands up to speak in the House?
I'm not yet bored by the topic, though I'm a little ashemed to admit it- there is much more to come on this yet - I agree the poor bloke is history or, to use the more hip term, 'toast'
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