Following in Bush's footsteps of decidedly less-than-erudite private diagnoses of current international affairs becoming public, the UK Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, is reported in today's Independent as saying to a group of Labour MPs that Bush's Middle-East policy has been "crap". Not a treacherous microphone this time, but rather a talkative MP, that has brought this gem of insightful analysis to our attention.
The story is that Prescott insists that he only went along with the war in Iraq because of US assurances that the road map to peace between Israel and Palestine would be resurrected and enforced; and it is the failure of the Bush administration in this regard that apparently aroused his succinct condemnation. Prescott has not gone out of his way to distance himself from the comments, insisting only that "this is an inaccurate report of a private conversation and it is not my view".
This is hardly surprising. Much like his celebrated punching of a voter during the 2001 election campaign, this latest "indiscretion" is unlikely to do him any real harm; quite the oppositie, in fact, at a time when more and more Labour MPs - including Blair loyalists - are becoming more and more uneasy about the Government's handling of the Middle East: not only in terms of the increasingly-disastrous Iraq adventure, but also with Blair's recent refusal to condemn Israeli actions against Hezbollah in Lebannon as disproportionate or illegal.
The Guardian has an interesting comment piece on Prescott's apparent outburst - or, perhaps more accurately, on the Independent's overwhelmingly positive reporting of it - pointing out that the editor of the latter paper is both a close friend and official biographer of the Deputy Prime Minister; making it unlikely that, despite his half-hearted denial, it would have been front page news, in that paper at least, without Prescott's blessing. It may even, one suspects, have been completely orchestrated from the start.
And thus the media/politician game of bluff and double bluff continues, even if it is being played out to an increasingly sceptical, not to mention downright bored, public....