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John Prescott lazy? NO WAY

Posted on 9 April 2009 | 9:04am

It’s obviously becoming stand-up-for-oldies week.
Yesterday David Frost on his 70th birthday. Today another veteran into his
eighth decade on the planet in the form of John Prescott.

John is of course
perfectly good at standing up for himself, as anyone who followed 2001 election
visits to North Wales will remember. But in an era when politicians tend to get
coverage for all the wrong things, I thought the story  in The Sun
yesterday naming John as Britain’s laziest MP was a particularly bad example.

At his age, and having stepped down from his position as Deputy Prime Minister
when Tony Blair resigned, I think most people would consider him entitled to
take it a bit easier. But from what I can tell he hasn’t. People can have all
sorts of differences of opinion over policy, beliefs and modus operandi (it’s
Latin, John) not to mention in John’s case his ability to mangle the English
language, and there are those who will never get beyond ‘two Jags’ and an

But there are two things you have to say about JP – no matter how he
expresses it, you always know what he means. And you cannot question his
workrate. MPs are Parliamentarians and how often they speak in Parliament is
one of many indicators to measure workrate. But it is a bit much to make it the
only one.

JP campaigns as hard and as effectively as MPs half his age. The way
he has established himself as a new and strong left-of-centre voice on the
internet is evidence of his continuing strength as a politician and

Whether campaigning against bankers’ bonuses, or for the Labour
Party via Go Fourth, he puts enormous energy into this new approach, alongside
all the miles and the meetings of the old-style. He has even, despite years
baiting me about my obsession with Burnley, got into sport, as a rugby league
club director and as the author of a sports strategy for his own area.

On the
foreign side of things, he works a weekend a month in the Council of Europe,
investigated the Armenian presidential elections and, as one of the drivers of
the Kyoto Agreement, continues to plug in to policy debates on the environment.

He has never had a second paid job, and any time I see Pauline she says he
still won’t take weekends off because there’s always work to be done. Does any
or all of that make him as busy as he was as DPM? No. But Britain’s laziest MP?
I don’t think so.

I have a hunch the story was fed out by the Tory whips to
undermine and embarrass him because having shown he can still mix it
politically over bankers’ bonuses, now he has turned his fire on Tory MEP
Daniel Hannan. Hannan got himself and his party a fair bit of attention for
laying into GB at the European Parliament.

Now he is attracting attention David
Cameron would rather not have for an interview he gave in the States attacking
the NHS the Tories claim to believe in. JP has been leading the charge to get
Cameron to say or do something about Hannan. I suspect the label of laziest MP
will merely fire him up even more.

  • Alan Quinn

    I think you’re right with the diversion tactics Ally. Cameron wants to portray the tories as a nice party but buubling underneath is the same bunch of nasty, right wing goons who loathe anything to do with public services.

    It was great to see Red Ken taking apart the tory shadow home secretary last night on Newsnight over the Bob Quick affair.
    Ken basically asked him what he would have done in government? Chris Grayling squirmed all over the place, Paxman just relaxed and let Ken get on with embarrassing him. The lesson was that on most things the tories haven’t got the answers or the policies, they are out of their depth and Prezza is one, amongst others who can expose this lot.

  • Grumpy Old Man

    I agree. Uses can be found for the thick and idle, but JP, being hard-working, is an ever-present disaster in potentia (that’s Latin too, Alistair).
    I cannot think of a better choice to lead Labour’s election campaign to “Come Fourth”.
    By the way. Dan the Han said nothing that was not realised by the Attlee govt. within 18 months of the formation of the NHS. (That’s history, Alistair)

  • daniel

    still no apology from Cameron for his Tory MEP arguing for the break up of the NHS and the creation of US style healthcare system, based upon wealth. Will Cameron condemn Daniel Hannan? its simply outrageeous of the Conservatives to say the NHS has made people iller. But there is an event bigger issue – Cameron leads a party that is fundamentally pro free market, deregulated, laissez faire, which sees public services, such as the NHS as a burden. Cameron tries to spin a caring tory party, and no doubt he wants us to think he is genuine – but his party is far too right wing and his members just dont believe him. He is increasingly the light touch, lightweight leader of a tory party with no response to the new world order post G20.

  • terry evans

    Anybody that doubts whether all this is true should sign up to become a friend of JP on facebook and also follow his blog. I do and am amazed by the energy he has for a man of his age. He’s a bit like a fine wine getting better with age. We are losing politicians like John who are driven by ideals to be replaced by automatons who are career driven. I hope he follows Tony Benn and just goes on and on.

  • Stephen Harman

    If some one has the right to slow down a bit and take it easy, I’m sure JP would be a serious contender. He is a one man election machine, and i would rather have him alone with me on a campaign than have 20 Daniel Hannans.

    I was at the Dundee Labour conference where he came up to rally the troops around the Go Forth campaign, and what a rallying call he gave out. For a man of his age he can still cut a rug on the dance floor until well after closing time.

    He is a man of real passion and conviction in the causes the Labour Party aspires to achieve. He is the man who has kept the party united so strongly, and it sure must take a lot of effort to keep all them plates spinning, and all them people in the boat over such a long period of time.

    JP, I think you are fantastic man and one of the great politicians of the modern era.

  • Caroline Hett

    Your blog is becoming funnier and funnier. Have just had a look at LabourList and JP’s offering and they are both very funny too. Fox hunting? Ha ha ha. Derek Draper, John Prescott and Alistair Campbell. The three stooges.

    By the way, did JP not get paid for doing that TV programme about class?

  • Jonathan Smiles

    It shows how shallow minded some in the press are. They are going for the cheap laugh. Ironically their tactic of painting JP lazy purely on the basis of parliamentary speeches as opposed to looking at the bigger picture is lazy journalism.

  • Ian Eastwood

    Love him or loath him. I think with Prezza you fall in to one category or the other. Strip away some of the gaffs and mistakes he has undoubtedly made along the way, there is no doubting he has always had the Labour party and his believes at heart.

    He is an old fashioned say it as it is type of guy. I don’t think the right one to front up a political party in this day and age, and He’s never really been as media savvy or as polished a performer as some of his counterparts but a political heavyweight sense of the word.

    I remember seeing a bio type documentary on john showing some of his younger days as a merchant seaman. As with many high profile powerful people get under the veneer oftern lays a man of a certain warmth, commitment, with the courage of there convictions. If G Bush can get to the Whitehouse with his gaffs who would begrudge JP his success.

    Finally ask yourselves two questions about JP. Who would you want covering you back in a fight political or otherwise? And who would you rather have to dinner JP or Cameron or some of his cronies.

    I rest my case.

  • Alina Palimaru

    Great defence! This shows the Tories cannot come up with anything of substance, and as such they simply label people left and right. All I have to say is: the empty can rattles the most!

  • Émilianna

    It’s true, JP can take care of himself but it’s natural to instinctively feel protective of anyone who is the victim of such an unfair attack.

    The Sun article is interesting insofar as it highlights a diseased relationship between sections of the media and consumers. It’s a troubling conversation with both sides tacitly cognisant of the other’s hypocrisy and yet, both sides pursue this passive, pathological form self-agrandisement through the diminishment of others. It’s a phenomenon rooted in psychology not politics and it is a most dishonourable way to tackle one’s political opponents.

    The idea that JP is lazy is bewildering. If this is the best conservatives can come up with, they should pack it up now.

    Finally, I hope your “stand-up-for-oldies week” comment was made in jest, young man.

  • cpw

    Re: John Prescott lazy? NO WAY”…modus operandi (it’s Latin, John)”

    New Labour in a nutshell – patronise the proles on the one hand and commend their work ethic on the other. That’s the kind of legerdemain that’s made this country ‘great’.

  • Émilianna

    You know, it would be nice if a worthy opponent showed up here. I feel like a pro-boxer who’s being forced to train with bunnies in preparation for the world title.

    I’d settle for the most scant sprinkling of substance. Are we purposefully being numbed into believing that opposition to Labour has been reduced to a mere Sarah-Palinesque body politic having an out-of-body experience?

    Sarcasm need not be unassailably vague and facile. The far-left and right-wingers should read more Jonathan Swift.

  • CPW


    Why use many words when none will say as much?

  • Émilianna


    I was moaning about all the negative comments I’ve read here over the weeks which oscillate between the vilest forms of character assassination or utter allusiveness.

    We all throw one-liners at times, I understand, but your comment, as I said, is too vague to be tackled.

    I don’t know where you stand on the political spectrum, but there are good wealth-distribution arguments out there, and there are decent arguments for fiscal conservatism or (ok, not so much these days) laissez-faire economic liberalism. And so on.

    If I am wrong to infer apathy from your reply then I apologise but, IMHO, we all must create in the world through our work and we must be politically involved — I mean “politically” in the broadest sense of the term. At the very least, we must engage each other.

    When I think of the sufragettes whose teeth were broken so they could be force fed after they went on hunger strike, I don’t see political apathy as an option.

    (Sorry, CPW, the long weekend beckons, if you responds, I will only be able to read it next week. Happy Easter to you.)

    Happy Easter to all.

  • Jane A

    It would be a rare miracle if DC got off the fence and addressed the Hannan remarks. Even DH’s most charitable best friend must have realised “The NHS has no doctors” was not the best informed line. Yet all we can hear is tumbleweed blowing down the policy corridor – again.

    The Tories don’t know where to go on the NHS – the last manifesto said they would dissolve the strategic health authorities, then they come over a bit warm over keeping Foundation Trusts, and this pick & mix approach is a guise for “We haven’t quite made our minds up yet.”

    The NHS was made by Labour, and – after years of neglect under the Tories – saved by Labour. Eighteen month waits are now 8.6 week waits, on average. Think you can do better, Dave??

  • Paul Downing

    I am amused at how scared Daniel Hannan has got the labour party.We have seen labours tax and spend/waste policies fail yet again,and we need some clear thinking to sort this mess out.Hannan is outside the cesspit of parliament and free to make personnal statements.We need fresh ideas on the agenda to be debated by the public if we are ever to recover.
    Anyone who can say with a straight face that the NHS has improved is clearly fortunate enough not to have had to use it.
    Have a pleasant Easter.

  • Jane A

    In response to the post to say that anyone saying that the NHS had improved, clearly hadn’t used it (I paraphrase – apologies), here goes:

    I’ve used it for 42 of its 60 years, in the North, South and middle of the country. I have been a “regular customer” of the NHS since I was five because I’m asthmatic. I have been in and out of a GP surgery year-in year-out in that time, but not hospitalised since I was sixteen. I haven’t got better, by the way : my care has.

    Lest that sound too personal, for the past six years, I’ve worked for the NHS too. I see change and improvement all the time, and what I see stems back to 1997, when Labour started to fix the Tory neglect.

    Trust me ; it has improved, and keeps on improving. I’m living proof.