spiked-geist: Day 10
Prescott feels their pain.
‘John is John’, pleaded Tony Blair in today’s press conference, defending John Prescott’s fisticuffs reaction to the egging in Rhyl. John is honest and loyal, said Blair. ‘I’m lucky to have him as my deputy.’
Putting on his standard oh-come-on-why-can’t-you-understand voice and mannerisms, Tony Blair told us that John regrets the incident ever happened, but his was a reasonable and instinctive reaction to a potentially dangerous situation.
And yet still the charges kept on coming. How can Blair defend Prescott’s yobbish behaviour? Will he ask him to stand down? Would Blair have punched the man, in Prescott’s place?
Blair began to get exasperated. ‘It’s important to get back to the real issues.’ He started talking about the Tories’ £20bn planned tax cuts. ‘There are big political and philosophical divides in this campaign.’
Yet, for all he tried, Blair could not steer the subject of conversation from the punch back to public investment. Of course not. In the dullest election campaign ever, arbitrary, petty issues like these are going to be the election issues – whether Blair and Hague like it or not. (New Labour is not so worthy either – it was they who produced the childish, misspelt ‘Wanted’ poster about Tory Oliver Letwin just the other day. (1))
And it should hardly come as a surprise to Prescott and Blair that they now face allegations of hypocrisy, given that their government has made such a priority of attacking yob culture. Maybe Blair should put Prescott on curfew, and be done with it.
But if the spectacle of Prescott getting physical was weird enough, the reaction to the incident is even stranger.
‘The guy should not have thrown the egg and the deputy prime minister should not have reacted in the way that he did’, commented Liberal Democrat Simon Hughes. ‘None of us is perfect. But both of them have now to be dealt with by the law in the usual way.’
Meanwhile, one of the protesters whimpered ‘We were just protesting….It got quite nasty’. Brendan Murphy, the Conservative candidate for the Vale of Clwyd defended the ‘time-honoured tradition’ of egg-throwing, and argued ‘We don’t want that kind of role model in Rhyl’.
Now look, children. In general, if you throw an egg at somebody, you should expect that they will turn around and punch you. If you are the deputy prime minister, however, you could be expected to have a bit more self-control – and a thicker skin.
Prescott, it seems, can be sanguine about any number of public transport disasters – but the idea that anybody would dare to throw an egg at him is clearly too much. JA
(1) See ‘Letwin the outlaw’ by Josie Appleton in spiked-geist: Day Eight
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