Editor-At-Large: Good riddance, Prezza. But do we have to lose Pauline too?

Click to follow
The Independent Online

This weekend Pauline Prescott will be back at home in her Victorian mansion outside Hull, popping down to Asda for the shopping in full war paint and no doubt consoling her soon-to-be redundant hubby with one of her famous hotpots. This Sunday, let's spare a moment's sympathy for a real one-off in British politics. Not Mr Prescott, who finally managed to say sorry to loyal party members in Manchester some months after he had been caught with his pants down and his hands up Tracey Temple's skirt, but his long-suffering wife. Pauline and Kate Moss have got an enormous amount in common, haven't they? I know that Kate would fit inside the sleeves of one of Mrs P's jackets, and that a handful of dress sizes and several decades separate them, but I am sure that if they were to meet, they would be top mates.

Both women have spent the last few months resolutely standing by their men-chaps who the rest of the population see as comic buffoons, objects of derision. Kate and Pauline, united in their unquestioning, uncompromising, thoroughly unfashionable devotion to their men. And neither has ever seen the need to make a public statement in the face of a barrage of criticism. They simply slap on the makeup and get on with things, looking gorgeous for their men. Pete Doherty lurches from one rehab unit to another, his once-sexy pipe-cleaner body starting to look chubby, sporting a black eye. He embarks on yet another comeback tour - this time in Ireland - and there's Kate, loyally standing at the side of the stage, helping out on vocals and willing him to stay clean. Back at the Labour Party conference, John Prescott, the man who has made his government a laughing stock, the minister who mangled the English language into gobbledegook and seemed dedicated to concreting over half of England, makes his goodbye speech with Pauline proudly looking on, as flamboyant as a galleon in full sail, with eyes made up like triple-decker tarantulas and a hairdo that's taken a can of spray and a gallon of black dye. Pauline's not made up for the television cameras, she's made up to be noticed at the other end of the Arndale Centre.

John Prescott is said to be besotted by his wife, and loves the way she looks, mired in some Dynasty-style costume drama set in the mid-Eighties. Pauline, an iconic woman who clearly doesn't want to let her husband down, returns the compliment by never looking less than 100 per cent the part her spouse has decided he wants her to play. And how does Britain's most feeble politician return this goddess's devotion? He gives her a pathetic peck on the cheek. His ego is so massive, he can't even thank her or mention her in his self-aggrandising valedictory speech, in which he claimed the credit for more or less everything from congestion charging to better housing for all.

Prescott was defeated in the High Court last week by another remarkable woman, disabled pensioner Elizabeth Pascoe. Miss Pascoe bravely challenged the might of Prezza and his demolition squad who sought to tear down her house and 500 others in the Edge Lane area of Liverpool under the planned Pathfinder scheme, which would have seen perfectly habitable, terraced houses reduced to rubble to fulfil Prescott's nightmare vision for our inner cities. Miss Pascoe won an important court ruling which may yet see her neighbourhood saved from the wreckers.

The Pathfinder scheme is highly controversial - yet Mr Prescott has put it into operation without ever holding a public debate on its merits. Labour councillors who challenge it are simply moved aside. Prescott is a bully who turns off female voters, but I shall miss Pauline, who surely deserves better.

Banged to rights, m'luds? I hardly think so

As glamorous Brazilian cleaner Roselane Driza spends today staring at her cell walls in Holloway, found guilty of blackmailing a female immigration judge known only as Miss J, I can't help feeling that a custodial sentence achieves very little. Roselane's crime was to demand that her former lover, another senior immigration judge called Mohammed Ilyas Khan, ask Miss J for £20,000 or she would send home-made tapes of the two judges having sex to the Department of Constitutional Affairs, and inform the DCA that they had been employing an illegal immigrant - which had been true for a period of roughly five years.

Khan dumped his wife and kids for Miss J and started bonking Roselane the cleaner when the affair ended. Now another woman has claimed she had sex with him after they met via the internet, only to be dumped after one weekend. And we don't know the identity of the mystery blonde he's shagging on his other home-made sex video.

Meanwhile, Mr Khan has been shooting his mouth off to the broadsheets, trying to save his career by claiming that he constantly said to Roselane, "Show me your papers." Emails between the two, read out in court, indicated that it was something else starting with P he was anxious to see. Khan added that Roselane was "devious" and claimed, "I am a man of conscience." If that is the case, perhaps he'd like to resign from his job, because his extraordinarily busy life surely means that he will hardly be able to devote his full attention to the weighty matter of deciding whether illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers can stay here.

Miss J has been off sick for the past 18 months at an estimated cost to the taxpayer of £180,000. She has now started an affair with yet another judge, who has left his wife. Tomorrow, Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor, will decide if there is to be an investigation into the behaviour of his two senior immigration judges. If he does, then Mr Khan will be suspended on full pay (nearly £100,000 a year) until it is complete. Sometimes I think I'm in the wrong job.

Meanwhile, what is the point of locking up the cleaner? It achieves nothing and costs the taxpayer. Better to send Roselane to work in the community, cleaning old people's homes and hospitals - and Mr Khan could try to keep his trousers zipped up.

Eye, eye: Life is definitely looking up for M&S's Bryan

Bryan Ferry, starring in the latest Marks and Spencer menwear ads, looks suspiciously 'well'. He performed five numbers at a party I went to last week for the stunning new White Cube Gallery in London, although he wasn't wearing the suit from the Autograph collection he sports in print, but a rather fetching black sequinned number. Could Bryan possibly have used his big cheque from Stuart Rose, M and S's canny boss, for a bit self-improvement in the facial department? Those eyelids are looking very taut.

Green thought: Head for B&Q if you want to save the planet

I took part in a Friends of the Earth quiz about the environment at the Labour conference, and it was a lot of fun. David Miliband, a fellow participant, seemed completely ill at ease. Charisma-free Miliband does not naturally inspire me with his alleged commitment to farming and eco issues. More interesting is the news that DIY chain B&Q plan to sell wind turbines and solar panels in their stores from next month. It will always be inspired entrepreneurs rather than politicians who will drive environmentally-friendly initiatives in this country. Mr Blair singularly failed to mention anything at all on the subject in his speech.