Is it time to lay off Prescott?
#1 in a series of questions to which the answer is no.
The Times, the Guardian, even the Telegraph have articles declaring close season on Prescotts. All of them say that it's time to stop probing into the DPM's personal life; that further attacks are mean-spirited and hypocritical and that the BBC had no right even to ask him to deny rumours. A slight whiff of sour grapes is detectable in the tone of much of this: this story is being driven by the blogs, predominantly Iain Dale and Guido, and the MSM have yet to come to terms with the style and nature of the blogosphere.
More disconcertingly, the tone seems to be that it's just not fair to pick on Prescott. Whose concern is his personal life anyway? It's a point, and yet not a very good one. It is ridiculous that if Prescott had been a start of Coronation Street every one of his tawdry affairs would have been published instantly, on suspicion, and yet his elevated title seems to make him immune from press speculation. It is also richly ironic that the self-styled scourge of Tory sleaze should seek privacy for himself when the tables are turned.
But the point that everyone seems to be missing is that Prescott's infidelities are inextricably connected with his failings as a minister. The women were in his office, subordinate to him. To have affairs, and to offer preferment in return is not just unpleasant for aesthetic reasons, but for legal/ethical ones as well. To ignore a story of this significance is a deriliction of duty. To attempt to downplay the allegations as coming from 'Tory blogs' is fatuous. It isn'y time for us to lay off Prescott, but for Prescott to be laid off.