Friday, June 02, 2006
How secure now is Prescott's (Deputy) Throne?
What factors will now determine what is left of John Prescott's career?
1. The croquet story was absurd and only became so big because it followed stories about his bonking and Labour's incompetence. Had the wolves not been in full cry behind the sledge the story could easily have been presented as a favourable one; e.g. MPs playing football against, say, a team from the Lobby, could be presented as not representing their constituents rather than indulging in a fun PR event. The media follows no logic except what angle will best sell the story.
2. Prescott has now declared his fate is inseparable from Tony's and that they wil both step down at the same time; clearly the DPM's departure would create too much PM related turbulence. Most MPs, even his enemies now seem to accept that this is now the case.
3. Throwing Dorneywood as a hunk of meat to the howling pack has won some respite while the carcass is being gnawed over. The reponse from the party has been mostly positive but there are some signs dissatisfaction is not confined to the opposition parties who insist Prezza should accept that his role, never up to much, is now finished. Women MPs are still seething that the old sleazball should be retained, and asked to endorse Prescott after giving up his mansion yesterday, Peter Mandelson pointedly refused to do so, which might cause the former to regret calling that crab 'Peter' all those years ago.
4. Prescott is now busy trying to convince us all that he does a worthwhile job: making speeches abroad on climate change and trying to persuade Cabinet committee members not to merely defend depertmental interests but to 'deliver'policies that will win the next election.
5. His likely departure when Blair-it could be later but could still be sooner remember- goes has encouraged a few wolves from his own side to sniff the air in anticipation. We know already that Harriet Harmon and possibly Peter Hain are keen but both have been cleverly upstaged by former postman, Alan Johnson, currently the Education Secretary who has openly declared his interest. This is a tough, adaptable politician who is very popular in the party and has that vital advantage of fulfilling the the classic conditions for a Labour success: a humble background and a former career as a trade union official.
To sum up: Prezza's abandonment of Dorneywood, however painful this has proved for Pauline(God knows, she's had enough pain over the last month but we learn she loved the Dorneywood perk), has won him some valuable time in which to attempt some rehabilitation to his faltering career and likely legacy. Tony must have pondered the question whether he's more damaging inside government or being cast outside and eventually come down in favour of not cutting the rope. Or maybe he just felt charitable after being in the sun away from our recent unseasonable weather.
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