In an age when the worst public gaffes made by British politicians tend to revolve around eating a bit strangely, a bit of physical violence tends to stick long in the memory. That may be why John Prescott reckons he’ll go down in history, not for his time as deputy Prime Minister under Tony Blair, but for an infamous incident in Rhyl in 2001 in which he punched a man in the face.
“I’m really proud of what I’ve achieved,” he says in the new issue of Radio Times magazine. ”But people won’t remember me for my 40 years in Parliament. Instead, I’ll be remembered for 40 seconds of my life. The time I thumped that bloke in the street.”
The incident in question occurred while Prescott, then deputy Prime Minister, was campaigning for re-election in south Wales. A video (watch below) shows a member of the crowd throwing an egg at Prescott from close range, who then lashes out aggressively in retaliation.
“[That incident] will be in my obituary. They’ve even put a plaque on the wall to mark the spot of this great historic punch. That’s life, I suppose”.
He’s probably right. The incident has been a recurring thorn in his side in the ensuing years, and one journalist has gone as far as to call it “the punch that changed history”. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to shake that any time soon.
Read the full interview in Radio Times Magazine out now