Monday, June 05, 2006

Working Class Made Bad

As soon as I hear about a working class person ridiculed in a way that could be construed as snobbery, I have to leap to their defence and shout loudly until the noise of their braying accusers is drowned out. So here I go.

That John Prescott had an affair was not unusual for a man of his age nor position. No government secrets were betrayed and he appeared to perform his day job just as well as he had before and after their liaisons. All they did was perform some sex acts at possibly inappropriate times and definitely in some inappropriate places.

He hasn't done very much more than Bill Clinton - who managed to retain his job and somehow, through pinkish lies, build a reputation for having a world-leading libido as well as a intriguingly featured manhood. Turns out Prescott on the other hand, who came clean pretty much straight away, is a sweaty groper thrusting his pathetic little cocktail sausage against nice ladies at all sorts of splendid parties.

But that it was a game of croquet that has really made him wobble is the most galling. I truly doubt if George Osborne had been similary snapped "at mallet", or if Prescott had been with his staff kicking a ball into a net, the press would have gone to town. As Deputy leader, why shouldn't he spend some time with his team and have some fun in the house he receives free of charge?

Unfortunately, it was Prescott's press-nominated role as "President of the Working Classes" that led to this frenzied assault. There he was, our man responsible for keeping it real, keeping the posh boys and puritans in check, getting above himself and having not just interesting sex but also, god forbid, indulging in a lawn sport designed for the idle (but charming) rich.

What John Prescott is for is a question that is rightfully posed more now that he has been stripped of his department, but frankly in this government I think we need a realist, someone who understands what the trade union movement is, who really understands being on your feet all day on a low salary, who is unafraid of throwing a punch however horrified the spin doctors might be, and who wasn't designed and shaped since a priviledged education to say the right words, at the right time, in the right accent (or number of syllables).

It seems obvious to me that Prescott works hard, surely everyone can see that's why you end up having affairs with secretaries and not ooh, say magazine publishers?

This is not to deny that some of the allegations of sexual harassment laid at Prescott's feet disturb and worry me (as those about Clinton did) - but if they are true, can we tackle him for those, rather than for nearly messing up his marriage and pottering about with his team on a lawn? As far as I am aware, however, they haven't been substantiated, although this hasn't stopped some female Labour MPs jumping in and using ridiculous phrases like "the worst sort of abuse of power" with regard to his affair when he is clearly one of the least deserving of all cabinet members of such an overblown phrase.

People like John Prescott, whether you agree with his views or not, give people hope that you can get there without the student union votes behind you or the backing of mummy and daddy through the campaigning years.

I may start an unfashionable campaign for some working class solidarity. Has anyone got Billy Bragg's number?

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