Monitor: Trouble with Mr Prescott
JOHN PRESCOTT AND TONY BLAIR: Comment on the perceived rift between the Prime Minister and his deputy following Mr Blair's criticism and Mr Prescott's praise of the public sector
Saturday 10 July 1999
FOR THE second day running, John Prescott blows his top. This time he does it at the Cabinet table, protesting that without Old Labour, New Labour would not have won so easily. Does this latest outburst spell trouble for the man who has done for the English language what Herod did for childcare? No, does it heck as like (as Prescott would say). It just shows how clever Tony Blair is at man management. As he said last night, his relationship with Prescott is "wonderful". Blair lets the old warrior of the left huff and puff as it helps him appear to be all things to all men. By allowing Prescott to let off steam he keeps on side the traditional Labour supporters. Prescott knows why he was chosen to be the Deputy Prime Minister . It's because of what's in his heart - not what's in his head.
THIS WEEK, Tony Blair let rip his exasperation against the incompetent troglodytes who still dominate much of Britain's public sector. Then his deputy Mr Prescott promptly tried to make it clear that the same troglodytes still have a crucial role in Mr Blair's own government. A reshuffle is imminent. If Mr Blair does not use it to get rid of the troglodytes around the table, he, too, will be guilty of hypocrisy. Unlike Mr Prescott, he does know what the word means; unlike Mr Prescott, he understands the political risks from feeding the dinosaurs at his own Cabinet table. So will he make them extinct - or will he himself risk extinction? (Bruce Anderson)
ALL IS not well between Tony Blair and the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott. The two men have made headlines by clashing about the role of public-sector workers. Just a day after Mr Blair had given a speech lamenting the conservatism of the public sector, Mr Prescott popped up to praise the public sector's civilising mission. The Prime Minister's political advisers are also clearly worried that Mr Prescott's ideas for transport may end up alienating Middle England's motorists. A third area of tension may soon emerge over the future of regional government in England.
The Daily Telegraph
TONY, I know you'll be tempted to have a little dig at John in your reshuffle. He's had it coming since Christmas, when, just because you weren't around, he got carried away with his delight at young Mandelson's exclusion. But let's make sure we just leave it at that. You're very lucky to have each other: both content with your respective positions; each dependent on the support of the other. The fraternal ties that bind you two are all that holds the Blairite coalition together. I don't mind you giving them a tug from time to time, but please boys, not too rough. (Sion Simon)
I'M PLEASED John Prescott is springing to the defence of our people. He stands up to the carping ninnies of Downing Street because he knows public service workers are the backbone of the Labour Party. Prescott paid tribute to their contribution to civilising this centruy and predicted it will continue into the next. But not if their work is constantly rubbished by a Prime Minister who is supposed to be their champion, not their scourge. Before the election, Tony Blair offered workpeople and their unions "fairness not favours". Public service employees certainly haven't had any favours It's about time they had fairness. (Paul Routledge)
THE DEATH of the working relationship between the PM and his deputy has been much exaggerated. Tony Blair needs John Prescott as his ambassador to the Labour Party. John Prescott, and the Labour Party, know that Tony Blair is their ambassador to the electorate. While it is possible that Mr Prescott's empire - the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions - might be broken up, there is no prospect that Mr Prescott himself will be demoted.
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