KEITH NEWBERY A firm believer in philosophy of ‘do as I say, not as I do’

Baron Prescott of Kingston upon Hull in the County of East Yorkshire would like it to be known he did not get where he is today without being able to spot a passing gravy-train and leaping aboard.

Fortunately, he thinks hypocrisy is something to do with an oath taken by doctors, so it has never been a barrier to ambition as far as he is concerned.

Therefore, having railed against preferment and privilege all his life, he did not hesitate to accept a peerage and all the perks when the offer duly arrived.

His principles did not prevent him using public money to pay the council tax on his government flat at Admiralty House.

And he bravely overcame his powerful working-class instincts to enjoy the croquet lawns and other attractions at his 200-acre grace-and-favour residence at Dorneywood.

Irony is another concept with which his lordship has only a passing acquaintance, and he once used a chauffeur-driven limousine to travel 250 yards from his hotel to a conference centre, where he gave a talk on how best to encourage the use of public transport.

However, his ability to deliver on pledges remains open to question. When New Labour came to power in 1997 and Prescott was made responsible for ‘an integrated transport policy’ he said: “I will have failed if, in five years’ time, there are not far fewer journeys by car.”

In June, 2002, car travel had increased by seven per cent. Now, this paragon of virtue and self-control, who admitted an affair with one of his secretaries and once threw a punch at a member of the public, has been lined up to become a police and crime commissioner on £100,000 a year.

The fact that he was once a leading member of a government which fiercely opposed the introduction of such posts is neither here nor there, of course.

One can only wish the best of luck to the minutes secretary if Prescott actually gets the job.

Such is the man’s command of English it is said the Hansard copy-takers in the Commons threw a party when the great man bade farewell.

** Back to real education

At long last, after 30 thoroughly debilitating and delusional years, there is a chance the children in this country will once again receive a worthwhile education.

Education secretary Michael Gove’s plans to ditch GCSEs should be welcomed. Several generations of youngsters have been betrayed and misled by simplistic tests which celebrated the mediocre and denied the truly gifted an opportunity to develop their true potential. So-called grade inflation, and the introduction of expensive Mickey Mouse courses by rapacious centres of further education, then compounded the nightmare.