John Prescott to probe ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone as guest host of RT’s News Thing

Ken Livingstone, John Prescott © Sam Delaney's News Thing
Tony Blair’s deputy prime minister will host RT’s News Thing comedy show on Saturday night, where he’ll interview old political foe and ex-London Mayor Ken Livingstone, who was recently suspended from the Labour Party over allegations of anti-Semitism.

In an interview with RT UK ahead of the program, Lord Prescott said “I like things which are politics and humor,” adding he believes it helps people to engage with politics.

RT:You were the 69th guest presenter on ‘Have I Got News For You’ in 2010, so it’s not your first time hosting a satire show. But it’s been a while.

JP: Well I like things which are politics and humor - you may call it satire, it depends where you’re coming from. But it makes people enjoy listening to politics. These programs allow you, in this case, to sit down and exchange with three other comedians. I suppose it could be four. I like to get into the comedy myself so I’m looking forward to the program.  

RT:Ken Livingstone is a touchy subject within the Labour Party, following his suspension. Are you planning to have a dig?

JP: Ken who?... Listen I worked with him as the London mayor and I was the secretary of state. We built a lot of these buildings - that was controversial. We brought in the congestion tax for cars - that was controversial. You know Ken’s all about controversy. You can see the latest incidents. I think he’s more concerned about that than the consequences as long as Ken’s in the center of it, so I’d like to ask a few of those questions.

RT:But you’ve been on the wrong side of controversy yourself down the years.

JP: Well I like politics where people know where you stand. I mean, I get Tories come up to me sometimes and say “Mr. Prescott, we don’t agree with your politics, but we like the cut of your jib.” In politics it’s perhaps identifying to people that you believe in what you’re saying, and that’s Jeremy [Corbyn]. I think you look at Jeremy now and think “He believes that.” The question is do they want to vote for it.

RT:Another sore point for you is press regulation following the phone-tapping scandal. Susie Boniface, who runs the Fleet Street Fox blog, is on the panel. Are you going to pull her up on some of the failings of the press?

JP: I don’t know, in the exchanges I’ve got a clear position on that. I don’t think we’ve finished that job. We should be doing what Leveson said. Look at the relations between the press and the police. God blimey in Sheffield and places we’re now hearing even today of the uncertainty, the unaccountability of the police and how they work with the press. That was certainly in the case of Sheffield. So I’m all for opening that, the government don’t like it so I’m continuing my campaign for that.

RT:Is this gig on RT your equivalent of Tony Blair’s after dinner speeches?

JP: Well, how do you mean? He goes all round the world doesn’t he, Tony? Paid by everybody. No, I think this is putting yourself into the debate. I saw him on television the other day, is it with [think tank] Progress? That’s like being interviewed by your auntie isn’t it?