Chris Moncrieff: Give Prescott a fighting chance, Ed

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What a waste of a good man. It is good news for Labour that Ed Miliband has brought back into the fold Lord (John) Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, to assist the party at the forthcoming general election.

What a waste of a good man. It is good news for Labour that Ed Miliband has brought back into the fold Lord (John) Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister, to assist the party at the forthcoming general election.

But it seems ludicrous to put this battle-scarred political bruiser – and I mean that as a compliment – in charge of the party’s policy on climate change.

Now, we know that this issue is, in many people’s minds, one of paramount importance.

However, climate change will not be at the forefront of many voters’ minds when the campaign gets going, nor will it be discussed in the pubs or on the doorsteps of Britain.

No, the place for Prescott, especially as Labour are now trailing the Tories in the main opinion polls, is at the heart of the melée and not on the fringes, even though, as a minister, he dealt with this subject and knows its ins and outs.

Meanwhile, the Tories’ advertising campaign looks as though they will be personally attacking Miliband and the Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.

They should just think back a few years and remember what happened when their posters tried to demonise Tony Blair in 1997.

They suffered one of the worst defeats in electoral history, shattered and flat on their back. Will they never learn?

The House of Bishops, like anybody else, has every right to discuss politics without being accused of meddling or trespassing on other people’s territory.

But the pious and long-winded 52-page (yes, 52 page!) “letter” these grandees have painfully put together is not the way to do it.

The bishops’ feeble excuse is that 
they have to counter Russell Brand, the self-styled comedian and anarchist, who has urged people not to vote at all on May 7.

Why their graces should dignify Brand with this diatribe is perplexing to say 
the least.

The bishops call for a “new direction” in politics to replace a society which they describe as self-interested, fragmented and badly led by politicians.

They attack adversarial politics and yet indulge in it themselves.

They huff and puff from beginning to end, using every cliche in the book including, naturally, “unfit for purpose”.

And despite protesting vehemently that this is not an encouragement to the electors to vote a certain way, but simply to vote at all, the bishops have managed to attract adverse headlines from across the spectrum such as “52 pages of Tory bashing”. I suppose that was inevitable.

But if they had been more succinct and far less sermonising and had not detailed almost every policy under the sun, they would almost certainly have enjoyed a less hostile response.

It is certainly not a page-turner.

What claptrap some MPs talk.

Liberal Democrat MP Lorely Burt, who rejoices in the title of the coalition’s Ambassador for Women in Enterprise, has protested that the use of Union Flags on the Government’s business advice website is not female-friendly and gives the impression that the web page is a military recruitment site.

Talk about dredging the bottom of the barrel to think of something, indeed anything, to say.

The idea that businesswomen would be put off by this design is simply bonkers.

What kind of evidence does Ms Burt have that women – particularly businesswomen – will be deterred by the spectacle of a Union Flag? None, I suspect.

It doesn’t say much for her opinion of women if she thinks they will be frightened off by the mere spectacle of a flag.

I do sometimes wonder how people like Ms Burt ever get elected to Parliament.

Chris Moncrieff is former political editor of the Press Association.