Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 22 November 2014

Did Blair have any idea about Prescott's bulimia?

Lindy McDowell, Belfast Telegraph

John Prescott's bombshell revelation that he has suffered from the eating disorder bulimia (a bombshell because, let's face it, we associate the condition with the likes of the hyper-skinny Princess Diana and Spice Girl Geri Halliwell) has certainly raised awareness of the condition.

As indeed it has raised awareness of Mr Prescott's forthcoming autobiography.

Mr Prescott would doubtless argue that it was the former aim, not the latter, that was foremost in his mind when he choose to share with the nation his penchant for gorging and purging. And certainly the media, which has not always been glowing in praise of the man dubbed Two Jags, was being reasonably supportive in the immediate aftermath of his disclosure at the beginning of this week.

I don't expect this will last, however. Not least because even in New Labour circles, the former Deputy PM does not have a firm fan base.

His reputation for greed and excess, typified by that Two Jags moniker is hardly going to be offset by his tales of binge-eating crisps, chips, M& S trifles, Big Macs and the entire menu in Mr Chu's China Palace.

And what ammunition does it give critics of his competence when he admits himself that he wasn't "a very successful bulimic" because for all his "purging" his weight didn't exactly plummet?

Bad enough to suffer from a food addiction so strong that every time you open your mouth you put food in it. But Mr P, as we know, also suffered from a second, equally serious habit. Every time he opened his mouth he put his foot in it.

Has he done so again?

As a talking point, bulimia is more Jeremy Kyle than Jeremy Paxman. But the real problem is that in bringing it up (so to speak) Mr Prescott inadvertently raises a more pertinent issue. Tellingly, questions are already being asked of how much Tony Blair knew about his deputy's condition. Since this was the man Tony left in charge of running the country while he was on hols, it is an important point.

Prezza suggests his condition was brought on by the stress of the job.

Was it fair to either the man or to the country to pile further pressure upon him by tasking him, even temporarily, with running the show while Tone topped up his tan?

Could Blair have known what was going on? It seems highly unlikely he could have missed it.

Aside from the point that he must have wondered about the amount of nosh his regular dining companion was putting away, could Tony have failed to have spotted, as others confirm they did, that John would immediately afterwards head for the loo to boke it all up again?



You'd think a PM who could pinpoint weapons of mass destruction in Iraq might notice a regurgitating deputy in the next loo cubicle.

Prescott says he told Alistair Campbell about his problem back in the early 90s.

Did Campbell pass this on to Tone? He tells one paper: "It was not something that came up (sic) when I was working with Tony. It vaguely rings a bell but, to be honest, I forgot about it all until recently."

In other words the indication that a very senior member of the government was suffering from a very serious stress-related disorder does not seem to have been, well, treated very seriously.

How much it affected the man who was second-in-command in the running of the country we shall probably never know.

Meanwhile, are we expected to overlook l'affaire Tracey Temple on the grounds that old John, tanked up as he was on tins of condensed milk, obviously wasn't himself at the time he was swinging her around at the Christmas do? And when he punched that bloke who threw the egg — was it because he was suffering from mood swings?

Or because the egg wasn't fried?

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