Breaking: John Prescott joins the TaxPayers’ AlliancePosted on July 7, 2010
It’s all very well for an Opposition to oppose, but doing so in direct contravention of things you yourself actually did in Government has a remarkable capacity to make you look stupid. I was going to write about this in hypothetical terms, but happily John Prescott has kindly stepped in to provide a perfect case study.
You’d have been forgiven for thinking when he was sworn in as Lord Prescott that it was the pinnacle of political hypocrisy. Well, it seems that was actually just a dry run for the things he intended to say once he was snugly in the ermine.
Yesterday, his Lordship posted a withering attack on Twitter:
“Con Dems slash housing benefit for poor but happy to pay £30,000 a year private school fees for diplomats – £15m a year”
This got up my nose a bit. After all, he seemed to have no problem paying these fees when he was in Government – and whilst they are excessive their existence doesn’t magically invalidate any other spending cuts.
Furthermore, when he was in power I vividly remember them scrapping Assisted Places, removing the only opportunity for bright kids who couldn’t afford the fees to get into private schools. Didn’t he do that, I pointed out, whilst at the same time paying the exact same fees for diplomats’ kids that he is now criticising?
Cue awkward silence. Eventually, the best Lord Prescott could muster was a complaint that the TaxPayers’ Alliance had given “no quote” on the topic.
Unfortunately for him, the Daily Telegraph, Sky News, the Metro, and even his favourite The Mirror record in black and white that the TPA has criticised this spending for years. I should know – I wrote the quotes and gave the TV interviews!
The question for John Prescott is this: he didn’t lose a minute’s sleep about these school fees when he was in power, so why is he suddenly howling about them in Opposition? What changed?
It couldn’t be that his Party lost the election, could it? No, a man of principle like Lord P would never bend in the political wind of base tribalism. The more charitable answer is surely that he was persuaded by the arguments of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and changed his mind. Nice to see you joining the programme, John.
PS To be absolutely clear, I do understand why the children of diplomats (and members of the Forces) may need to be sent to boarding school when their parents are abroad. I just think we could save money by sending them to one of the many excellent state boarding schools, rather than Eton.