27 August 2007

John Prescott’s Parliamentary Career 1970-2007

John Prescott’s Parliamentary Career – thought to have died last year under the enormous weight of personal scandal and political controversy – has been ended by the hand of John Prescott himself following his announcement that he is to step down as a Member for Parliament at the next general election in October, whenever that might be.

Though often considered an object of derision and frequently mocked for his lifelong struggle with the English language, it is little known that as well as being MP for Hull East, Prescott was also Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Deputy Prime Minister, filling in for Tony Blair at the Despatch Box during Prime Minister's Questions, where his idiosyncratic performances were warmly greeted by the entire house and led to offers of a summer season at Bridlington, a show at the Edinburgh Fringe and many cries of "taxi for the Deputy Prime Minister"(1).

The Career itself was descended from a long line of working-class struggle: Mr Prescott's father was a railway signalman and his grandfather a miner and he himself served the cause - and assorted members of the upper classes - as a waiter on cruise ships. Politicised by his forebears and galvanised by his thrashing of Anthony Eden at quoits during a winter voyage to Egypt in 1956, young Prescott became a union activist – graduating from Ruskin College, Oxford with a diploma in economics and politics and a determination to enter Parliament. In 1970, he was elected to serve the constituency of Hull East - but failing to find a tray big enough to carry 150,000 pints of bitter, he ran away to Westminster.

A staunch defender of Labour’s proud socialist heritage, Prescott served his time as a left-wing backbencher before his election as Deputy Leader in 1994. Seen by many as Tony Blair’s attempt to keep in touch with Old Labour (something Tony was loath to do except during his periodic attempts to heal Old Labour of scrofula), Prescott proved his worth by spending many long years mediating between the warring Blair and Brown – keeping the peace by standing between them and reminding them of the need for unity, in lectures they would always remember but sadly - due to Mr Prescott's acknowledged difficulty in getting his sentences to begin and end in the correct order - never understand.

A series of scandals and controversies in the last few years of The Career's life caused many to question its claim to be in touch with the grassroots of the party – especially as that party was frequently in a garden and the grassroots were usually on his flannel trousers following a spectacularly mis-cued croquet shot. Despite this the doubters had cause to think again in 2001, when Mr Prescott made a real effort to get in touch with the working people of Britain - by punching a farmer who had thrown an egg at him. Aides later explained that Mr Prescott had resorted to violence not because his assailant had criticised his politics but because he’d forgotten to throw the bacon, sausages, black pudding, fried slice and beans as well.

In 2003 The Career reasserted its socialist principles by encouraging Mr Prescott to give up the flat he rented from the RMT union at a fifth of the market value in Clapham (that hotbed of socialist struggle) and instead to conduct his ascetic lifestyle in just his Admiralty Arch grace-and-favour flat, his official residence, Dorneywood, and his home in Hull(2).

Yet on occasion, The Career's radicalism could go too far. In 2006 it fell into disgrace when it was revealed that it had taken a stand against the hegemony of monogamy after it emerged that Mr Prescott had been conducting a two-year affair with his diary secretary.

Despite such controversies it was with a heavy collective (but not in the left-wing sense) heart that New Labour heard the news in June this year that Mr Prescott had resigned as Deputy Leader of the Party. As a mark of respect his position as Deputy Prime Minister was abolished. But retirement did not suit the career. Unable to face a slow decline on the backbenches, it decided to end it all by doing away with itself in front of a group of reporters at one of Mr Prescott's few remaining homes.

John Prescott’s Parliamentary Career will be buried at the St Professor Stanley Unwin Churchmolehode, deep joy. The congregation will sing hymn No. 473 “What A Friend We Have In Tony… No Really, He’s Me Mate He Is”.

(1) an offer which the quondam Environment Secretary was always able to turn down thanks to his many ministerial and non-ministerial gas-guzzlers vehicles.
(2) a generously proportioned £650,000 home and not, as some have cruelly suggested, a caravan he shared with Margaret Beckett.

1 Comment:

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Haha! Like your correction in the first paragraph - well, I like the whole post!