John Prescott took to Twitter yesterday to question whether David Miliband (last week) and Yvette Cooper (this week) should be writing for Rupert Murdoch's Sun on Sunday.
Perhaps the Labour grown-ups want to reach The Sun's five million readers?
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper wins a big spread (right) in Britain's newest newspaper for attacking the Coalition's law and order credentials.
Her second reward for ignoring the Prescott boycott was these warm words from The Sun's leader-writers:
"David Cameron's declaration of war on Britain's knife crime scourge won him support from actress Brooke Kinsella — whose brother was stabbed to death — and The Sun. Yet on his watch, knife thugs are spared jail, while robberies at knifepoint rose by ten per cent in the year to the end of September. Labour's Yvette Cooper is speaking our language on crime. It's no surprise to see her cutting the PM's poll lead on law and order."
The Sun also publishes polling which suggests the Tory advantage over Labour on law and order has shrunk from +23% to +12%. Polling published last year by Lord Ashcroft suggested the NHS and crime were biggest barriers between the Conservative Party and winning the next election.
This is the story that Mrs Cooper tells in her article:
"Meeting police officers in the Midlands last month, I was told a shocking story. A 999 call had come in about a hit-and-run but the nearest officer was 45 minutes away. When the constable finally arrived, blue light flashing, the culprit was long gone. Angry residents started a slow handclap. Police forces are struggling to cope with cuts of 16,000 officers thanks to this government. And communities are paying the price. That is David Cameron's law and order policy: Crime up, police down."
With barely 10% of all departmental spending cuts implemented we will get many more hard case stories like this from Labour in the years to come.
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?
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?
Today may not have been a great day for the Conservative fundraising operation but the resignation of David Rowland before he even became Tory Treasurer is a small problem compared to Labour's financial problems.
John Prescott - who is running for the position of Labour Treasurer - has written in tomorrow's Guardian that his party is "on the verge of bankruptcy" and facing a "crisis in funding". He says that the party has debts of £20m, its membership is declining and is only remaining a going concern because of "the goodwill of the Co-op bank".
He also puts a price tag on the decision by Brown to abort the honeymoon election of autumn 2007. Estimates at the time suggested a £1m hit. Prescott puts it at £1.5m.
The new Labour leader will be hampered in two ways by the fact that Brown left his party as well as the country in bad financial shape:
He will have to spend a disproportionate amount of his time fundraising. Hague from 1997 to 1999 in particular was not able to campaign on the scale he would have liked because of the dire state of Tory finances. He and Lord Ashcroft had to fight a battle to stop the Tories from going under. That he succeeded is one of the under-reported achievements of the Hague leadership.
The new Labour leader will also need to lean heavily on the unions if he is to keep Labour afloat and this will restrict his policy options. The public sector unions, in particular, might decide to fund their own political campaigning if they do not see the Labour leadership defending their members' job security and perks.
Imagine the outcry there would have been from Labour politicians six months ago if David Cameron, the Leader of the Opposition, had gone out and endorsed a struggling Prime Minister somewhere else in the world, a week before polling day in that country's general election.
Whilst British political parties of all hues have fraternal relations with like-minded parties around the world, convention states that senior party figures do not campaign in each other's national elections.
But the current Leader of the Opposition, Harriet Harman, seemed happy to defy that convention yesterday by endorsing the Australian Labor Party and in particular its Prime MInister, Julia Gillard, ahead of this Saturday's general election.
As today's Sydney Morning Herald reports, she turned up at the polling booth at Australia House in London where around 200,000 expats are entitled to cast their ballots:
If any further signs are needed that Saturday's poll will go down to the wire, a visit to the Australian High Commission in London should prove it.
The footpath outside Australia House on The Strand has been a hive of party activity for a week and yesterday, British Labour sent a special envoy in an 11th-hour plea for expat votes.
The acting Opposition Leader, Harriet Harman, issued a special message to the estimated 200,000 Australian in Britain who are eligible to vote, urging them to do so and ''give the women of Australia and the world a reason to put a spring in their step''.
''Australians form a fantastic part of UK life,'' she said. ''We are seeing now what the Conservatives are doing to risk the recovery. Vote and make sure this does not occur in Australia.''
Jason Groves, the President of the UK branch of the Australian Liberal Party tells me:
"The Australian Labor Party might regret its choice of guest at the polling booth: the comparison between British Labour and Australian Labor is not a flattering one.
"Both Julia Gillard and Harriet Harman were Deputy Prime Minister in governments that presided over a gross waste of public finances and caused huge economic damage. Indeed, I hope Julia Gillard will, like Harriet Harman, be a short-term leader of her party.
"I'm convinced that the example of the Cameron Government and the similar commitments to fixing the public finances given by [Liberal leader] Tony Abbott have led Australians living in London to vote for the Liberals in substantial numbers."
John Prescott, who turns 72 at the end of this month, departed the Commons at the general election, three years after his decade as Deputy Prime Minister came to an end.
But Prescott - who is widely expected to be awarded a peerage in the coming days - is showing no sign of wanting to leave the political stage.
On his new blog he has announced that he intends to run for the post of Labour Party Treasurer, currently held by Jack Dromey, Harriet Harman's husband and now Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington. This role would give Prescott a seat at his party's top table on its ruling National Executive Committee, regardless of the outcome of the leadership election.
He explains his motivation thus:
"I intend to work closely with the Leader and the General Secretary to help put Labour on a stable financial footing, build a mass membership party with the active support and engagement of unions and affiliated organisations and to champion traditional campaigning in a modern setting."