"Gutter journalism" was the abuse which spat from the mouth of John Prescott, a man whose infidelities include having sex with a junior civil servant in a hotel room while his long-suffering and oblivious wife, Pauline, waited downstairs to have dinner with the treacherous and hypocritical toad. Her recent memoir describes how he slunk back to their home in Hull to confess to his adultery before it became public. His security staff preceded him into the house to dump a bag of his dirty smalls for Pauline to wash.I know which of us is better acquainted with the gutter.
After the rumble with Prescott on Newsnight, I faced Roy Hattersley, a more sophisticated old bruiser who had also been brought to the studio to have a pop. Afterwards, Roy told me that he was going to give a bad review to The End of the Party. Roy and I have known each other for years and have generally got on very well. Indeed, he is one of the many Labour figures whom I interviewed for the book. I have always been an admirer of Roy's literary style, not least because he gave a highly flattering notice to my earlier work about New Labour, Servants of the People. Yet I have clearly underestimated him. I had not realised that Roy possesses such advanced critical faculties that he is able to decide that he will give a bad review to a book before he has actually read it.