I’m sorry but I can’t take seriously the forced outrage of the media over John Prescott’s V-sign gesture and the silly comments of ‘disgust’ from Lib Dem and Tory MP’s.
As this BBC story reminds us it is, of course, not the first time Prescott has got himself in hot water with a gesture. But remember his approval rating actually went up when he gave some egg-chucking yob a clip around the ear and I think he is on to a winner again this time.
If the media really think that voters are going to be angered by a bloke waving a V-sign at a mocking crowd of photographers and journos they are kidding themselves big time. On the contrary – if politicians are unpopular in this country, they are certainly run a close second by the media.
The press have it in for Prescott and I think it is pretty clear why – he represents one of the most despised figures of all for the London elite – the blunt Northerner. Worse than that he is a blunt Yorkshireman – and in power.
You think I am exaggerating? Well, forget politics for a minute and ask yourself which cricketers have come in for the most stick over the years from the sports press? Geoffrey Boycott, Ray Illingworth and Fred Truman. Lancastrians fared little better when they were given a brief spell in charge as David Lloyd or Mike Atherton could tell you. It is the same in football – Yorkshireman Howard Wilkinson mocked as ‘old school’ for little other reason than his accent, North Easterners Bobby Robson and Kevin Keegan hounded as England managers for their supposed lack of tactical ‘sophistication’ (a phrase that has additional meaning when uttered by southerners about northerners). Contrast thier treatment with the crawly coverage of Londoner Terry Venables or Essex’s Keith Fletcher.
Politics? Who are the two most despised PM’s spokesman of all-time? Yorkshireman Bernard Ingham and Burnley fan Alistair Campbell without any doubt. Coincidence? Maybe. But look at the media’s hate figures on the far left – compare the reaction to Dennis Skinner and Arthur Scargill over the years with the celebrity status bestowed on the likes of Red Ken, Tony Banks or even Islington’s Jeremy Corbyn.
But Prescott will have his revenge.
If there is one legacy he can leave from his time as a minister it will be to give the North of England a chance to run its own affairs via regional government. Yorkshire, the North West and the North East, will be given referendums where they will be able to opt out of direct rule from Westminster. Personally I’d prefer a full parliament on the Scottish model for the whole of the North myself but Prescott’s proposals are an excellent start.
Of course when London got its regional government it was given a warm welcome in the media whereas Prescott’s plans to give the same for the North have been mocked by the London opinion-formers. No surprise there either – we are fine for comedy and sports events but we are never to be allowed to run things.
And that is what the whole of the media’s dislike of John Prescott is about.
Just wait till we get the Guardian back to Manchester.