UK Politics

Lord Prescott dismisses 'prat talk' over his peerage

Former deputy PM John Prescott has defended taking a peerage as a platform to campaign - and said his wife asked him to do it.

Lord Prescott, who once branded hereditary peers an "offence to democracy", dismissed suggestions he was a hypocrite as "prat talk".

"I was against hereditaries, we got rid of 90% of them," he told the BBC.

But he conceded he looked like he was "chewing a wasp" as he accepted the peerage on Friday.

Mr Prescott was Tony Blair's deputy for 10 years and was seen as the link between Labour's grass roots and the New Labour politicians at the top of the party.

'Too much flunkery'

He stepped down as an MP at the general election and was made Lord Prescott in the Dissolution Honours - announced at the end of every Parliament.

He took up his seat as Baron Prescott of Kingston-upon-Hull on Thursday, wearing traditional ermine robes to pledge allegiance to the Queen and sign official documents.

Asked if he felt like a bit of a prat, Lord Prescott - known for his blunt manner - joked: "I didn't feel a prat - I do think I was chewing a wasp at the time."

The Daily Mail has reported Lord Prescott saying he did not want to go into the Lords in 2008 - although he denies it.

And he told the Scotsman in 2008, when asked if he would take a peerage: "I'm against too much flunkery and titles. But Paul [his wife Pauline] would like me to. I tell her, 'What do you want to be Lady Prescott for? You're a lady already'."

Asked if he accepted people would call him a hypocrite, Lord Prescott told BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show: "They can say that... these journalists, most of our politics is by these journalists who love to play that - it's the prat talk, if you like, in politics".

He added: "I was against hereditaries, we got rid of 90% of them, we kept 10% as a compromise, it was wrong - it's that I wanted getting rid of."

But he said he was impressed with the quality of debate in the Lords, particularly crossbench peer Lord Hoffmann's speech in a debate on the Defamation Bill, saying: "You wouldn't have got that in the Commons."

Asked if it was true he accepted the peerage because his wife Pauline wanted him to do so, Lord Prescott laughed and said: "She's a wonderful woman... she makes her own mind but she said: 'Yes, I would like you to go in there', because I don't think she wanted me at home all the time."

Lord Prescott, who is also campaigning to become the Labour Party Treasurer, told the programme: "I'm still in politics, it's my life. I haven't put on slippers.

"I've got the Lords to put my case against the most reactionary government we are beginning to get. And I've got, hopefully, at the heart of the Labour Party if I win the election for Treasurer, [the chance] to make changes."

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