Current Affairs

Two Jags says he is demob-happy

Tony Grew January 31, 2007
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John Prescott has told MPs that he is enjoying the “happy demob stage” of his career, as he faced more questions in the House of Commons about what his current role in government consists of.

Mr Prescott, who revealed earlier this month that as a young man he was wary of homosexuals, has been an MP for 36 years.

It is widely anticipated that he will stand down from the deputy role when Prime Minister Tony Blair leaves office later this year.

Earlier this month Mr Prescott told a BBC Radio 4 documentary about his days as a steward on the Cunard Line in the 1950’s, Prescott At Your Service, , that he was uncomfortable sharing a cabin with gay crew.

With his trademark clarity, Mr Prescott reminisced that, “the thing that struck me most was that when I joined it they didn’t sail out the North, they sailed out the South and there were a lot of gay guys on board and I was quite amazed at this.

“And I remember saying, spending three months on a voyage and there were ten gay guys in a room and I said, ‘I’m not staying in a room like this.’ Anyway I went in another room.”

However, the 68-year-old, who has been Deputy Prime Minister since 1997, has stood up for gay rights on several occasions.

Standing in at Prime Ministers Questions last November, Mr Prescott dismissed religious objections to new regulations that outlaw discrimination against gay, bisexual and lesbian people on the grounds of good and services.

“I am not a religious man, but I always understood that religion was about tolerance.

“It is a pity that we do not show more tolerance to different cultures and different religions. We would be a lot better off for it,” he said.

Yesterday it was announced that London’s Millennium Dome, owned by homophobic billionaire Philip Anschutz, will not play host to the UK’s first super-casino.

In July 2006, a scandal engulfed Mr Prescott over his undeclared stay on Mr Anschutz’s Colorado ranch.

Mr Anschutz has donated large sums of money to Colorado for Family Values, an organisation with explicitly homophobic views.

He is also a major patron of the Republican Party and funded “Amendment 2,” a voter initiated ballot to overturn gay rights in the state of Colorado.

He is also a major donor for the Institute for American Values, who campaign against single parent families.

As for Mr Prescott, he seems to have survived that scandal and his office affair, and today in the House of Commons he dismissed Tory jibes that he is a waste of money.

Shadow Foreign secretary William Hague asked: “Will you confirm that you have managed to spend £645 changing the sign outside your office from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to the deputy prime minister’s office?”

Prescott lost no time in mocking Hague, who earned over £1m last year outside politics, much of it from speaking engagements:

“I hear the argument of the £634 – it wouldn’t have paid for one sentence of the speech you give at the rate you charge.”

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