I can't stand the sight or the sound of John Prescott. But...
By Paul Goodman
He's retired from front-line politics. He's a member of the House of Lords (yes, yes: I know it's ludicrous, not to mention hypocritical). He could - and others would - push off to better themselves.
Question: so what's he up to on a Bank Holiday Monday morning, when nearly everyone else - including politicians who aren't retired from front-politics - are reading the papers, eating breakfast, cleaning their teeth, having a pillow fight... or doing whatever else they do when they don't have to work?
Answer: Tweeting out a message about his NHS Direct campaign. It was sent at 8.32, for goodness sake. Now, it may be that he didn't actually push the button himself - that someone (or more than one person) is being paid to do the hard grind.
But I doubt it. And even if that's the case, he was on the radio plugging his message last Saturday afternoon - when most working politicians, as I say, wouldn't be working at all.
Now the worst of it is: I shouldn't admire him in any respect. Prescott's politics have always seemed to me to be negative, not positive - based on hating "the Tories", rather than liking other people. He's a class warrior - and class war, like race war or religious war, is repugnant. Worse, he's a class warrior togged up in ermine.
None the less, I just can't help being impressed by his truculent, obdurate, bloody-minded spirit. He's a bit like the Black Knight in Spamalot: you feel that if his arms and legs were cut off, he'd offer to call the fight a draw. And that he'd still be screaming: "Come back here and take what's coming to you! I'll bite your legs off!".
Last point. Which of our retired Cabinet Ministers, post-1997, showed a tenth of Prescott's willingness to be up-and-at the Government?