Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Any Other Business

Article excerpt

Byline: By Peter Young

Our hard-working Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is reported to have found time to fit in no less than eight visits to the musical Billy Elliot.

The show, about a North East lad who wants to become a ballet dancer to the horror of his miner dad, is at London's Victoria Palace Theatre.

It's no doubt the message of the battle between the then Tory Government and the miners during the 1984 strike which struck a chord with Labour's croquet-playing class warrior.

The pro-miner, anti-Thatcher agenda is never far from the surface and in one scene the lyrics go "Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher we all celebrate today, 'cos it's one day closer to your death."

Meanwhile, as the vultures continue to circle Mr Prescott waiting for him to quit or be sacked, former Europe Minister Denis McShane delivered his verdict on the scramble for his job.

"Voters expect ministers to run the country not vie for a non-existent vacancy," he told me. "The corridors of Westminster are becoming Comical Alley."

Mr Prescott's advantage is that he enjoys the support of the PM, some say because Mr Blair fears an election for the deputy leadership could trigger a leadership election as well, which, given his growing unpopularity within the Parliamentary party, he could easily lose.

So, it seems Mr Prescott will survive as Deputy Prime Minister to see Billy Elliot another day.

As a former Olympic sprinter, Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell (pictured) has impeccable sporting credentials.

But some Lib Dems were calling into question his political judgment after his keynote speech to the party's regional summer conference at Gateshead Civic Centre on Saturday was scheduled at the same time as England's first World Cup game at 2pm. A mass exodus was feared at the end of the speech by delegates hoping to catch the second half and there were moves to persuade Civic Centre staff to switch on the building's plasma screens. …

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