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John Prescott

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Subject: Labour Party (UK) leadership election, 1994, List of Question Time episodes, Margaret Beckett, Labour Party (UK) deputy leadership election, 1994, Harriet Harman
Collection: 1938 Births, Alumni of Ruskin College, Alumni of the University of Hull, British Sailors, Deputy Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, First Secretaries of State of the United Kingdom, Labour Party (Uk) Life Peers, Labour Party (Uk) Meps, Labour Party (Uk) Mps, Living People, Members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for English Constituencies, Members of the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, Meps for the United Kingdom 1973–79, People from Prestatyn, Politicians from Kingston Upon Hull, Politics of the East Riding of Yorkshire, Seamen from Kingston Upon Hull, Trade Unionists from Kingston Upon Hull, Uk Mps 1970–74, Uk Mps 1974, Uk Mps 1974–79, Uk Mps 1979–83, Uk Mps 1983–87, Uk Mps 1987–92, Uk Mps 1992–97, Uk Mps 1997–2001, Uk Mps 2001–05, Uk Mps 2005–10
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John Prescott

The Right Honourable
The Lord Prescott
Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
In office
2 May 1997 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Michael Heseltine
Succeeded by Nick Clegg (2010)
First Secretary of State
In office
8 June 2001 – 27 June 2007
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by Michael Heseltine (1997)
Succeeded by The Lord Mandelson (2009)
Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions
In office
2 May 1997 – 8 June 2001
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by John Gummer (Environment)
Succeeded by Margaret Beckett (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)
Stephen Byers (Transport, Local Government and the Regions)
Deputy Leader of the Labour Party
In office
21 July 1994 – 24 June 2007
Leader Tony Blair
Preceded by Margaret Beckett
Succeeded by Harriet Harman
Shadow Secretary of State for Employment
In office
21 October 1993 – 21 July 1994
Leader John Smith
Margaret Beckett (Acting)
Preceded by Frank Dobson
Succeeded by Harriet Harman
In office
26 October 1984 – 13 July 1987
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by John Smith
Succeeded by Michael Meacher
Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
In office
23 November 1988 – 21 October 1993
Leader Neil Kinnock
John Smith
Preceded by Robert Hughes
Succeeded by Frank Dobson
In office
31 October 1983 – 26 October 1984
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Albert Booth
Succeeded by Gwyneth Dunwoody
Shadow Secretary of State for Energy
In office
13 July 1987 – 23 November 1988
Leader Neil Kinnock
Preceded by Stanley Orme
Succeeded by Tony Blair
Member of Parliament
for Hull East
In office
19 June 1970 – 12 April 2010
Preceded by Harry Pursey
Succeeded by Karl Turner
Personal details
Born John Leslie Prescott
(1938-05-31) 31 May 1938
Prestatyn, Wales
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Pauline Tilston (1961–present)
Children 2 sons
Alma mater Ruskin College
University of Hull
from the BBC programme Desert Island Discs, 19 February 2012[1]

Problems playing this file? See .

John Leslie Prescott, Baron Prescott, (born 31 May 1938) is a British politician who was the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2007. Born in Prestatyn, Wales, he represented Hull East as the Labour Member of Parliament from 1970 to 2010. In the 1994 leadership election, he stood for both Leader and Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, winning election to the latter office. He was appointed Deputy Prime Minister after Labour's victory in the 1997 election, with an expanded brief as Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

A former ship's steward and trade union activist, by the 1980s he was presented as the political link to the working class in a Labour Party increasingly led by modernising, middle-class professionals. In his youth he failed the 11-plus entrance examination for grammar school, but went on to graduate from Ruskin College and the University of Hull. Prescott also developed a reputation as a key conciliator in the often tense relationship between Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown.

On 27 June 2007 he resigned as Deputy Prime Minister, coinciding with Blair's resignation as Prime Minister. Following an election within the Labour Party, he was replaced as Deputy Leader by Harriet Harman. Prescott retired as an MP at the 2010 election. On 8 July 2010, he entered the House of Lords as a life peer with the title Baron Prescott, of Kingston upon Hull in the County of East Yorkshire.[2]

Prescott stood as the Labour candidate in the election to be the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside Police,[3] but lost to Conservative Matthew Grove.[4]

On 21 February 2015, it was announced that Prescott would return to politics as a Special Adviser to former Labour Leader, Ed Miliband.[5]


  • Early life 1
  • Member of Parliament 2
  • Deputy Prime Minister 3
    • Environment 3.1
    • Transport 3.2
      • Integrated transport policy 3.2.1
      • Rail regulation 3.2.2
    • Local and regional government 3.3
    • Housing 3.4
    • Opposition to education reforms 3.5
    • Links with the grass roots 3.6
    • Abolition of department 3.7
    • Announcement of retirement 3.8
  • Life after government 4
  • Life peerage 5
  • Iraq War inquiry 6
  • Police commissioner 7
  • Health concerns 8
  • Criticism and controversies 9
  • Family 10
  • Styles 11
  • Bibliography 12
  • See also 13
  • References 14
  • External links 15

Early life

The son of John Herbert Prescott, a railway signalman and Labour councillor, and Phyllis, and the grandson of a miner, Prescott was born in Prestatyn, Wales, on 31 May 1938.[6][7][8] In 2009, he said: "I've always felt very proud of Wales and being Welsh...I was born in Wales, went to school in Wales and my mother was Welsh. I'm Welsh. It's my place of birth, my country."[9]

In 2009, John Prescott featured in the BBC Wales programme Coming Home about his Welsh family history, with roots in Prestatyn and Chirk.

He left Wales in 1942 at the age of four and was brought up initially in Brinsworth in South Yorkshire, England. He attended Brinsworth Manor School, where in 1949 he sat but failed the 11-plus examination to attend Rotherham Grammar School. Shortly afterwards, his family moved to Upton, Cheshire, and he attended Grange Secondary Modern School in nearby Ellesmere Port.[10]

He became a steward and waiter in the Merchant Navy, thus avoiding National Service, working for Cunard, and was a popular left-wing union activist. Prescott's time in the Merchant Marine included a cruise from England to New Zealand in 1957.[11][12] Among the passengers was Sir Anthony Eden, recuperating after his resignation over the Suez Crisis. Prescott reportedly described Eden as a "real gentleman". Apart from serving Eden, who stayed in his cabin much of the time, Prescott also won several boxing contests, at which Eden presented the prizes.[12] He married Pauline "Tilly" Tilston at Upton Church in Chester on 11 November 1961.[13] He then went to the independent Ruskin College, which specialises in courses for union officials, where he gained a diploma in economics and politics in 1965. In 1968, he obtained a BSc in economics and economic history at the University of Hull.

Member of Parliament

He returned to the National Union of Seamen as a full-time official before being elected to the House of Commons as Member of Parliament (MP) for Hull East in 1970, succeeding Commander Harry Pursey, the retiring Labour MP. The defeated Conservative challenger was Norman Lamont. Previously, he had attempted to become MP for Southport in 1966, but came in second place, approximately 9,500 votes behind the Conservative candidate. From July 1975 to 1979, he concurrently served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) and Leader of the Labour Group, when its members were nominated by the national Parliaments. In 1988 Prescott and Eric Heffer challenged Roy Hattersley for the deputy leadership of the party, but Roy Hattersley was reelected as deputy leader. Prescott stood again in the 1992 deputy leadership election, following Hattersley's retirement, but lost to Margaret Beckett.

Prescott held various posts in Labour's Shadow Cabinet, but his career was secured by an impassioned closing speech in the debate at the Labour Party Conference in 1993 on the introduction of "one member, one vote" for the selection and reselection of Labour Parliamentary candidates that helped swing the vote in favour of this reform. In 1994 Prescott was a candidate in the party leadership election that followed the death of John Smith, standing for the positions of both leader and deputy leader. Tony Blair won the leadership contest, with Prescott being elected deputy leader.

Deputy Prime Minister

John Prescott in May 2007

With the formation of a Labour Government in 1997, Prescott was made Deputy Prime Minister and given a very large portfolio as the head of the newly created Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions.

In the United Kingdom, the title of Deputy Prime Minister is used only occasionally, and confers no constitutional powers (in which it is similar to the pre-20th century usage of Prime Minister). The Deputy Prime Minister stands in when the Prime Minister is unavailable, most visibly at Prime minister's questions, and Prescott had attended various Heads of Government meetings on behalf of then Prime Minister Tony Blair.[14]

Since the position of Deputy Prime Minister draws no salary, Prescott's remuneration was based on his position as Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions until 2001. This "super department" was then broken up, with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Transport established as separate entities. Prescott, still Deputy Prime Minister, was also given the largely honorific title of First Secretary of State. In July 2001 an Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) was created to administer the areas remaining under his responsibility.[15] This was originally part of the Cabinet Office, but became a department in its own right in May 2002, when it absorbed some of the responsibilities of the former Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions. The ODPM had responsibility for local and regional government, housing, communities and the fire service.


The UK played a major role in the successful negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol on climate change and Prescott led the UK delegation at the discussions.[16][17]

In May 2006, in recognition of his work in delivering the Kyoto Treaty, Tony Blair asked Prescott to work with the Foreign Secretary and the Environment Secretary on developing the Government's post-Kyoto agenda.[18]


Integrated transport policy

On coming to office, Prescott pursued an integrated public transport policy. On 6 June 1997, he said: "I will have failed if in five years time there are not...far fewer journeys by car. It's a tall order but I urge you to hold me to it."[19] However, by June 2002, car traffic was up by 7%. This prompted Friends of the Earth's Tony Bosworth to say "By its own test, Government transport policy has failed".[20]

Prescott had success in focusing attention on the role of car usage in the bigger environmental picture and the need for effective public transport alternatives if car volume is to be reduced. The subsequent debate on road pricing evolved from his policy. A contrast was highlighted between Prescott's transport brief and an incident, in 1999, when an official chauffeur-driven car was used to transport Prescott and his wife 250 yards (230 m) from their hotel to the venue of the Labour Party Conference, where Prescott gave a speech on how to encourage the use of public transport. Prescott explained, "Because of the security reasons for one thing and second, my wife doesn't like to have her hair blown about. Have you got another silly question?"[21] Prescott has been fined for speeding on four occasions.[22][23]

Rail regulation

Prescott had a stormy relationship with the privatisation of the railway industry. He had vigorously opposed the privatisation of the industry while the Labour Party was in opposition, and disliked the party's policy, established in 1996 just before the flotation of Railtrack on the London Stock Exchange, of committing to renationalise the industry only when resources allowed, which he saw as meaning that it would never be done. Reluctantly, he supported the alternative policy, produced by then shadow transport secretary Clare Short, that the industry should be subjected to closer regulation by the to-be-created Strategic Rail Authority (in the case of the passenger train operators) and the Rail Regulator (in the case of the monopoly and dominant elements in the industry, principally Railtrack). The policy was spelled out in some detail in the Labour Party's statement in the June 1996 prospectus for the sale of Railtrack shares, and was widely regarded as having depressed the price of the shares.

In 1998, Prescott was criticised by investors in the railway for his statement – at the Labour Party conference that year – that the privatised railway was a "national disgrace". The companies felt that they had had some considerable successes in cutting costs and generating new revenues in the short time since their transfer to private sector hands, and that the criticisms were premature and unfair.

In that speech, Prescott also announced that he would be taking a far tougher line with the companies, and to that end he would be having a "spring clean" of the industry.[24] This meant that the incumbent Director of Passenger Rail Franchising – John O'Brien – and the Rail Regulator John Swift QC – both appointed by the previous Conservative government, would have to make way for new Labour appointees. In February 1999, the regulation of the passenger rail operators fell to Sir Alastair Morton,[25] who Prescott announced would be appointed as chairman of the Strategic Rail Authority, which would take over from the Director of Passenger Rail Franchising whose office would be wound up. In July 1999, the new Rail Regulator appointed by Prescott was Tom Winsor.[25] They shared Prescott's view that the railway industry needed a considerable shake-up in its institutional, operational, engineering and economic matrix to attract and retain private investment and enable the companies within it to become strong, competent and successful.

Local and regional government

Responsible for local government, Prescott introduced a new system guiding members' conduct after 2001. The new system included a nationally agreed Code of Conduct laid down by Statutory Instrument which all local authorities were required to adopt; the Code of Conduct gives guidance on when councillors have an interest in a matter under discussion and when that interest is prejudicial so that the councillor may not speak or vote on the matter. Although on many areas councillors had previously been expected to withdraw where they had declared an interest, the new system made the system more formal and introduced specific sanctions for breaches; it was criticised for preventing councillors from representing the views of their local communities.[26]

Prescott supported regional government in England. Early in his term, he introduced regional assemblies (consisting of delegates from local authorities and other regional stakeholders) to oversee the work of new Regional Development Agencies in the regions of England. Following Labour's second election victory, he pressed for the introduction of elected regional assemblies, which would have seen about 25 to 35 members elected under a similar electoral system to that used for the London Assembly. However, because of opposition, the government was forced to hold regional referendums on the change. The first three were intended to be in the North-East, North-West and Yorkshire and Humberside. The North-East referendum in November 2004 was first (where support was felt to be strongest) but resulted in an overwhelming vote of 78% against. As a consequence, the plan for elected regional assemblies was shelved.


A rising number of households (especially in the south-east) were putting added pressure on housing during Prescott's tenure as the minister responsible. An increase in the housebuilding was proposed, primarily on brownfield sites, but also on some undeveloped greenfield areas and as a result he was accused of undermining the Green Belt.[27][28][29][30] The quote "The green belt is a Labour achievement; and we intend to build upon it" is attributed to Prescott.[31]

In the north of England, Prescott approved the demolition of some 200,000 homes that were judged to be in "failing areas" as part of his Pathfinder regeneration scheme. It has been argued that renovating properties, rather than demolishing them, would have made better financial and community sense.[32]

Prescott led the campaign to abolish council housing, which ran out of steam when tenants in Birmingham voted to stay with the council.

Opposition to education reforms

On 17 December 2005, Prescott made public his disapproval of Tony Blair's plans to give state schools the right to govern their finances and admission policies and to increase the number of city academies. It was the first policy stance that Prescott had made against Blair since his election as leader in 1994. Prescott said that the move would create a two-tier educational system that would discriminate against the working class.[33] He added that Labour were "always better fighting class".[34]

Links with the grass roots

Prescott, sometimes described as "an old-school unionist", kept in touch with the views of the traditional Labour voters throughout his career. He became an important figure in Tony Blair's "New Labour" movement, as the representative of 'old Labour' interests in the Shadow Cabinet and subsequently around the Cabinet table as Deputy Prime Minister.

However, now a member of the establishment, relationships with the grass roots were not always smooth. Whilst attending the BRIT Awards in 1998, Chumbawamba vocalist Danbert Nobacon poured a jug of iced water over Prescott, saying, "This is for the Liverpool Dockers".[35][36] (Dock workers in Liverpool had been involved in a two-year industrial dispute: a strike that had turned into a lock-out, until a few weeks earlier.) A reporter from the Daily Mirror threw water over Nobacon the following day.[37]

Abolition of department

In a Cabinet reshuffle on 5 May 2006, Prescott's departmental responsibilities were transferred to Ruth Kelly, as Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, following revelations about his private life and a poor performance by Labour in that year's local elections. He remained as Deputy Prime Minister, with a seat in the Cabinet, and was given a role as a special envoy to the Far East as well as additional responsibilities chairing cabinet committees.[38][39] Despite having lost his departmental responsibilities it was announced that he would retain his full salary (£134,000pa) and pension entitlements, along with both his grace-and-favour homes, an announcement which received considerable criticism.[40]

The press speculated in July 2006 that, as a consequence of the continuing problems centred on Prescott, Blair was preparing to replace him as Deputy Prime Minister with David Miliband, whilst possibly retaining Prescott as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party,[41] but nothing came of this.

Announcement of retirement

In a speech to the 2006 Labour Party Conference in Manchester, Prescott apologised for the bad press he had caused the party during the previous year. He said: "I know in the last year I let myself down, I let you down. So Conference, I just want to say sorry", and confirmed that he would stand down as deputy leader when Blair resigned the premiership.[42] Prescott subsequently announced in the House of Commons that he was "... in a rather happy demob stage", in January 2007.[43]

Within 30 minutes of Blair announcing the date of his resignation on 10 May 2007, Prescott announced his resignation as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. During the subsequent special Labour Party Conference, at which Gordon Brown was elected Leader and Harriet Harman succeeded Prescott as Deputy Leader, Prescott received a prolonged standing ovation from the members present, in recognition of his many years of service to the party.

Life after government

Following his resignation, it was announced that he would take over from Tony Lloyd as the lead UK Representative in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. The post is unpaid, but has an expenses allowance and allows him to sit on the Assembly of the Western European Union. In a jocular response to the appointment, Shadow Europe Minister Mark Francois wished the translators good luck.[44]

On 27 August 2007, Prescott stated that he would stand down as an MP at the next general election, after which he was offered a peerage. He has also engaged in the campaign against slave labour, which he intends to make a key issue in his work at the Council.[45][46] Prescott is a director of Super League rugby league club Hull Kingston Rovers, who are based in his former constituency of Hull East.[47]

His autobiography, Prezza, My Story: Pulling no Punches[48] ghostwritten by Hunter Davies,[49] was published on 29 May 2008.

In June 2008, he made a cameo appearance, playing a policeman, in the BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Robert Tressell's The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. In 2009, he made a brief cameo appearance as himself in the final episode of the BBC Three comedy series Gavin and Stacey (this referred to a running joke in the show regarding a relationship the character Nessa had years ago with Prescott.)

In October and November 2008, he was the subject of a two-part documentary, "Prescott: the Class System and Me", on BBC Two, looking at the class system in Britain, and asking whether it still exists.[50] In October 2009, he was featured in another BBC Two documentary, Prescott: The North/South Divide, where Prescott and his wife Pauline explored the current state of the North-South Divide from their perspective as Northern Englanders long used to living in the south of the country.[51]

During the 2010 election campaign, Prescott toured the UK in a customised white transit van dubbed his "Battlebus" canvassing support for the Labour Party.[52] Prescott was publicly very supportive of Gordon Brown, and has called him a "global giant".[53]

Prescott has stated in interviews that he is not religious.[54] He chose to make a non-religious solemn affirmation rather than swearing an oath during his introduction in the House of Lords.

Beginning on 7 January 2011, John Prescott appeared in a TV advert for insurance company, along with comedian Omid Djalili, which gently mocks events in his political career.[55]

On 27 February 2011, Prescott appeared on the BBC's Top Gear as the "Star in the Reasonably Priced Car", where he set a lap time of 1.56.7, the second slowest in a Kia Cee'd.[56] He also engaged in a discussion with host Jeremy Clarkson regarding his time in Government.

To raise awareness of Comic Relief, Prescott delivered the area forecasts of the 0048 Shipping Forecast on Saturday 19 March 2011. The format then reverted to the BBC continuity announcer Alice Arnold for the reports on coastal areas. On delivering the area forecast for Humber, Prescott (who had represented the parliamentary constituency of Hull East for almost 40 years before retiring) slipped deliberately into his distinctive Humberside accent, saying "'Umber, without the 'H', as we say it up there".

On 6 July 2013, Prescott revealed in a newspaper column that he had resigned from the Privy Council in protest against the delays to the introduction of press regulation.[57] The resignation only became effective on 6 November the same year.[58] The Coalition Government had insisted that the Privy Council must consider a cross-party Royal Charter to underpin a new system of regulation, but that this meant that a final decision would not be taken before 2015.[59]

Life peerage

It was announced on 28 May 2010 that Prescott was to be awarded a life peerage,[60] The peerage was gazetted on 15 June in the 2010 Dissolution Honours.[61] He was introduced in the House of Lords on 8 July as Baron Prescott, of Kingston upon Hull in the County of East Yorkshire,[62] and the Letters Patent were gazetted on 12 July, dated 7 July.[63] Note that the comma appears after "Prescott", not "Hull", because his title is "Baron Prescott", not "Baron Prescott of Kingston upon Hull".

Iraq War inquiry

On 30 July 2010, Lord Prescott appeared before the panel at the Chilcot Inquiry concerning the Iraq War. Prescott stated that he was doubtful about the legality, intelligence and information about Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction. The Inquiry was launched by Gordon Brown in the summer of 2009 shortly after operations in the war ended.[64]

Police commissioner

In February 2012 Prescott announced he would stand for Labour's nomination in the election to be the first Police and Crime Commissioner for Humberside Police.[65] In June he was selected as the Labour candidate for the election in November 2012.[3] In the November election Prescott won the most first preference votes but ended up losing to Conservative Matthew Grove in the second count.[4]

Health concerns

Prescott was diagnosed with diabetes in 1990,[66] although this was not publicly disclosed until 2002.[67] On 2 June 2007 he was admitted to hospital after being taken ill on a train from his constituency in Hull to London King's Cross.[68] He was later diagnosed with pneumonia and was treated at University College Hospital, London. He was moved to a high-dependency ward on 5 June 2007 so he could be monitored more closely because of his age and the fact he suffers from diabetes.[69] On 6 June 2007 it was reported in the media that his condition was stable and that he was sitting up and "joking" with hospital staff.[70] He was subsequently released from hospital on 10 June 2007 to continue his recovery at home.[71]

In April 2008, Prescott recounted having suffered from the eating disorder bulimia nervosa, which he believed was brought on by stress, from the 1980s through until 2007.[72]

Criticism and controversies

Prescott has been involved in a number of controversies and incidents that have caused public concern and widespread media interest. During the 2001 election campaign, Prescott was campaigning in Rhyl, Denbighshire when farmer Craig Evans threw an egg at him, which struck him in the neck. Prescott, a former amateur boxer, responded immediately with a straight left to the jaw.[73][74][75] The incident, overshadowing the launch of the Labour Party manifesto on that day, was captured by numerous television crews. Tony Blair responded succinctly, stating, "John is John".[76] A National Opinion Polls (NOP) survey found that the incident appeared to do no public harm to Prescott, and may even have benefited his standing amongst male voters.[77] The incident is often referred to as the "Rumble in Rhyl".

Prescott was reported as saying "there's no such nationality as English". A survey in 2007 suggested the majority of people in England supported the formation of a devolved English parliament,[78] and Prescott's comments were taken by some as an effort to deny their autonomy.[79]

In 2003, Prescott gave up a grace and favour home that he had rented from the RMT Union in Clapham; he had left the union in June 2002. Prescott paid £220 a month for the property – a fifth of its market value.[80] Though he had not declared the flat in the register of members' interests, he was subsequently exonerated by MPs who overruled Elizabeth Filkin, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.[81] On 12 January 2006, Prescott apologised after it was revealed that the council tax for the government flat he occupied at Admiralty House was paid for using public money, rather than his private income. He repaid the amount, which came to £3,830.52 over nearly nine years.[82]

There have been additional controversies over sexual infidelities and harassment allegations.[83] On 26 April 2006, Prescott admitted to having had an affair with his diary secretary, Tracey Temple, between 2002 and 2004.[84] This two-year affair is said to have commenced after an office party and, in part, took place during meetings at Prescott's grace-and-favour flat in Whitehall. Conservative MP Andrew Robathan tabled questions in the House of Commons over John Prescott's reported entertainment of Temple at Dorneywood, his official residence, which raised questions over the possible misuse of public finances.[85] On 7 May 2006, The Sunday Times quoted Linda McDougall, wife of Austin Mitchell, as saying that in 1978 Prescott had pushed her "quite forcefully" against a wall[86] and put his hand up her skirt as she opened the door for him to a meeting in her own house just after her husband became an MP; Prescott had not met McDougall before.

He was criticised for maintaining the benefits of Deputy Prime Minister despite losing his department in 2006. He was criticised for visiting the American billionaire Phil Anschutz who was bidding for the government licence to build a super casino in the UK,[87][88][89] and questioned over his involvement in the business of his son Johnathan Prescott.[90][91] He was photographed playing croquet at his then "grace and favour" home Dorneywood when Tony Blair was out of the country on a visit to Washington.,[92][93] Prescott was mocked in the media[94] - in part because the game was so divorced from his working-class roots - and he gave up the use of the house.[95] He later said that it had been his staff's idea to play croquet and that contrary to press reports, he had not been Acting Prime Minister when he had played the game.[96][97]

He gained a reputation in the British press for confused speech, mangled syntax and poor grammar.[98] The Guardian columnist Simon Hoggart once commented: "Every time Prescott opens his mouth, it's like someone has flipped open his head and stuck in an egg whisk."[99] An oft-quoted but unverified story in Jeremy Paxman's The Political Animal is that, before being accepted as transcribers to the Parliamentary record Hansard, applicants must listen to one of Prescott's speeches and write down what they think he was trying to say. However Liz Davies wrote that on the Labour National Executive Committee Prescott "spoke in clear, concise sentences and his point was always understandable. Contrary to his television and parliamentary image, he appears to choose his words with care."[100]

The media have attached various sobriquets to John Prescott during his political career. Originally, Prescott's nickname was "Prezza",[101] but as various misfortunes befell him the sobriquets became more colourful, leading to "Two Jags"[102] (Prescott owns one Jaguar, and had the use of another as his official ministerial car). Later versions of this term are "Two Jabs"[103] (following his retaliation against a protester farmer in 2001); and "Two Shacks"[104] (referring to his former country house). The Independent later referred to Prescott as "No Jobs"[105] when he lost his department in a cabinet reshuffle following exposure of his affair, (which led to him being called "Two Shags"),[106] despite keeping the benefits and residences associated with his title, which became a sinecure.

On 8 May 2009, The Daily Telegraph began publishing leaked details of MPs' expenses. The Telegraph reported that Prescott had claimed £312 for fitting mock Tudor beams to his constituency home, and for two new toilet seats in as many years. Prescott responded by saying, "Every expense was within the rules of the House of Commons on claiming expenses at the time".[107]

In March 2013 Prescott suggested that the Queen, Elizabeth II, should abdicate.[108] Prescott was criticised for his position by several MPs.[108]


Prescott and Pauline Tilston married in 1961. They have two sons. Their younger son, David Prescott, is active in Labour party politics and sought, but failed, to be selected for his father's parliamentary seat in Hull.[109] Their older son, Johnathan Prescott, is a businessman. Pauline had a son by an American airman in the 1950s, whom she gave up for adoption.[7]


  • Mr John Prescott (1938–1970)
  • Mr John Prescott MP (1970–1994)
  • The Rt Hon Mr John Prescott MP (1994–2010)
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Prescott PC (2010–2013)
  • The Rt Hon The Lord Prescott (2013–present, after having resigned from the Privy Council[57])


  • Prescott, John (2008). Prezza: My Story: Pulling No Punches. Headline.  

See also


  1. ^ "John Prescott".  
  2. ^ "Life Peerages - P". Cracroft's Peerage. 
  3. ^ a b "Lord Prescott aims for Humberside police job". BBC News (BBC). 18 June 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Police election results". BBC News. 16 November 2012. Retrieved 16 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "John Prescott set to return to front-line politics". BBC News. 22 February 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015. 
  6. ^ O'Grady, Sean (19 May 2001). "John Prescott: A street-fighting man". The Independent (London). Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Lewis, Roger (27 February 2011). "Smile Though Your Heart is Breaking by Pauline Prescott: review". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  8. ^ "BBC-North East Wales public life -John Prescott". BBC-North East Wales website. BBC. February 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 
  9. ^ "WalesOnline – News – Wales News – John Prescott learns of incest among his Welsh ancestors". WalesOnline website. Media Wales Ltd. 30 November 2009. Retrieved 1 December 2009. 
  10. ^ "My love letter was sent back, spelling corrected". The Times (London). 25 May 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2008. 
  11. ^ "Prescott at Your Service". BBC Radio 4. Archived from the original on 2 February 2007. Retrieved 4 February 2007. 
  12. ^ a b Grimley, Naomi (25 January 2007). "When Prescott served Eden". BBC News ( 
  13. ^ Brown, Colin (29 April 2006). "Pauline Prescott: Wounded party". The Independent (London). Retrieved 17 November 2009. 
  14. ^ "Bilateral Meeting of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland with the Deputy Prime Minister of Great Britain". The Chancellery of the Prime Minister (Poland). Retrieved 9 June 2006. 
  15. ^ "The office of Deputy Prime Minister" (PDF). House of Commons. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 June 2006. Retrieved 18 July 2006. 
  16. ^ Brown, Paul (1 June 2002). "Hopes for Kyoto rise after Japan and EU ratify treaty". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  17. ^ Habberley, Stephen (1 June 2006). "Prescott's highs and lows". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 October 2008. 
  18. ^ "John Leslie Prescott". 10 Downing Street. Retrieved 13 January 2006. 
  19. ^ "ENVIRONMENT, TRANSPORT AND THE REGIONS, RELATING TO TRANSPORT The Secretary of State was asked". Hansard. 20 October 1998. 
  20. ^ "Friends of the Earth – Transport policy fails the Prescott test". Retrieved 29 April 2010. 
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  56. ^ though, his lap was made in heavy wet condition. The slowest lap time, made by Damian Lewis, was in a heavy snow condition which significantly made the lap time much slower (2:09.1, about 12 seconds slower than Prescott's).
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External links

  • John Prescott biography at the UK Parliament website
  • – Prescott's political blog
  • John Prescott on Twitter
  • Archive copy at the Wayback Machine – profile at 10 Downing Street website
  • Current session contributions in Parliament at Hansard
  • Contributions in Parliament at Hansard 1803–2005
  • Voting record at Public Whip
  • Record in Parliament at TheyWorkForYou
  • Profile at Westminster Parliamentary Record
  • Profile at BBC News Democracy Live
  • Articles authored at Journalisted
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Works by or about John Prescott in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
  • BBC Profile, 5 May 2006
  • John Prescott's gift of the gaffe, BBC News, 6 June 2003
Parliament of the United Kingdom
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Party political offices
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