Leading article: John Prescott... must we?

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High of mind and socially liberal of politics, this newspaper tries to stay out of politicians' bedrooms. One place we would certainly never think to go voluntarily would be the Deputy Prime Minister's boudoir. We hold back on the threshold, therefore, to observe two things. One is that Cecil Parkinson's resignation 23 years ago seems to belong to a different sexual and political era. David Mellor resigned in 1992 not because of his extra-marital affair, but because he failed to declare a free holiday, while David Blunkett's error two years ago was get his office to chase up his son's nanny's visa. Unless John Prescott has demonstrably abused his public office in pursuit of private interests, the lucrative confessions of Tracey Temple should have no bearing on his suitability for his job.

Our second observation is that it is a little difficult to apply the conventional test to Mr Prescott, whose responsibilities are often ambiguous. The test is that a politician's private life is a private matter unless it affects his or her ability to do the job. In the case of the Deputy Prime Minister, the question is: how would we tell?