Monday, May 12, 2008

Is Prescott rewriting history?

Gordon Brown has not been a particularly lucky Prime Minister so far - while some of his mistakes have been of his own making, others, such as "discgate" and the David Abrahams affair were down to others' incompetence. But looking at the headlines of the last couple of days, I wonder whether the Prime Minister is perhaps more fortunate in his enemies.

Who are these people who are currently twisting the knife? An ex deputy leader who was very lucky not to be sacked himself by Tony Blair, a failed ex welfare minister who has borne a deeply personal grudge against him for the past decade, and a sleazy fundraiser whose activities did more than anyone else to bring disgrace on the party.

The activities of Lord Cashpoint in persistently seeking to link Brown with the cash for honours affair on the strength of absolutely no evidence are simply beneath contempt. It's the kind of thing you expect from Tory bloggers, not people who are allegedly supporters of the Labour Party.

As for Frank Field, he has been seeking to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of Labour MPs by spearheading the rebellion over the abolition of the 10p tax rate, but such is the depth of his hatred for Gordon that anything he says about him is worthless.

John Prescott is a different case altogether. His loyalty to the party and determination to hold it together at all costs has been the hallmark of his long career, which is what makes the revelations about the Blair-Brown feud in his memoirs all the more surprising.

I wonder if he is re-writing history somewhat. Either that, or else his words are being rather badly edited.

In truth, I don't think for a moment he actually wanted Tony to sack Gordon or for Gordon to resign and attack Tony from the backbenches. Prescott knows perfectly well that both of those scenarios would have led to civil war in the party, and that is not something which he would ever have wanted.

I think his comments have more the air of exasperation about them. If he did indeed urge Blair to sack Brown, it was probably said more as a reductio ad absurdam than anything else.

Contrary to the impression given in the book, I am in fact as certain as I can be that he wanted Brown to succeed Blair, saw him as the best guarantor of the Labour Party's core values, and was working quietly to ensure his succession from a fairly early stage.

Indeed I was told all of this by one of Prescott's very closest ministerial colleagues shortly after the 2001 election.

The same source made clear that Prescott envisaged continuing as Brown's deputy for a while, presumably on the assumption that the handover would come sometime in the 2001-2005 Parliament.

Blair's decision to stay on until 2007, coupled with the Tracey Temple affair, evidently put paid to that ambition.

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Anonymous said...

' I am in fact as certain as I can be that he wanted Brown to succeed Blair, saw him as the best guarantor of the Labour Party's core values' - well I for one would like to know what these core values are

Levy was a fund raiser, that's all he did - Labour gleefully spent that money - they then to a man hung him out to dry - the Labour party is clearly the new nasty party. Don't for a second believe those higher up, particularly the treasurer didn't know - if they didn't then they're purely negligent.

As for Frank Field, at least he is fighting for the poor - something the Brown and Balls (so what if they pay more tax) may ponder.

Finally I don't know if you follow PMQs closely but it appears that week after week Brown's statements are dishonest - I really don't understand why people rally round such a person.

Letters From A Tory said...

But surely you agree with Frank Field's sentiments and objective over the 10p tax rate?

Anonymous said...

I must admit I read the reports of John Prescott's remarks as his being a parent trying to manage two squabbling kids to their senses by saying go on then sack him; go on then resign. This was spun by the BBC and the media into something with an entirely different emphasis.

Anonymous said...

Waht you said was explicitly said to me 'by a close friend' of JP some years ago

Philipa said...

Hi, had to pop by to say how much I liked your list on Iain Dale's blog. Excellent!