Prat of the Year Awards 2013

by Jackie_South on December 31, 2013

2013_pratAnother vintage year of prattish behaviour comes to a close. But, you ask, who were 2013’s greatest prats of all? This is the verdict of our panel of judges.

But before we do the run down, here are some that didn’t quite make it into the final cut. First off, in some pretty spectacular prattery we have … er, us. Yes, at the beginning of the year we managed to close the blog down for a fortnight by fiddling with things on it we didn’t really understand. Just as well Ray, George, Charlie and I did not have full administrator rights – imagine the chaos if that happened!

Oh, just heard we’ve now all got full administrator rights. Oh well, expect another catastrophic meltdown anytime soon then.

One perhaps surprising omission from our list is the most frequent winner of the Prat of the Week award in 2013, David Cameron. He’s managed some pretty good pratting throughout the year but some of this was through shared awards and was not quite enough to propel him into our league of glory.

Other honourable mentions go to the following who were nominated by some of our judges but did not quite have enough to propel themselves into the top five. Just missing out were shadow chancellor Ed Balls, whose calamitous plummet in credibility meant that he was only saved from receiving our King of the Valleys turd jersey by the even more precipitous fortunes of the England cricket team.

On the sports theme, another nominee who failed to garner enough votes was Roman Abramovic, for throwing around a lot of money to little impact this season. I think – in fact, Ray nominated him without mentioning why and he didn’t get any other votes.

Just missing out of a top five place by a whisker is ridiculous journo, blogger and ‘free’* school champion, Toby Young. Toby hasn’t managed to secure a prat of the week award in 2013, which hampered his chances somewhat of getting into the top five. Nevertheless, his steadfast championing of free schools in the year that the wheels on this particularly wonky trolley started falling off shows an admirable dedication to pursuing prattishness that could well see him back in contention next year. Keep up the good work, Toby!

(* for ‘free’, read ‘expensive and a bit shit’)

Our 2010 champion prat, Vince Cable, also featured in this year’s top ten, but did not have enough to propel him to the upper echelon of our list, despite constantly trying to portray himself as a bit of a rebel in the cabinet whilst still going along with absolutely everything that they decide (even when offered a free hand). Vince has been a runner-up a few times this year for the Prat of the Week award, but hasn’t quite ever hit the standard of prattishness required to pick one up in 2013.

Our final candidate not to make the top ten also has Lib Dem connections. Or, at least she did when she took her ex-husband’s speeding points, and still did when she shopped him to Sunday Times journo Isabel Oakeshott. Vicky Price of course also tried to use the defence of marital coercion, without any success, meaning that her attempted revenge on Chris Huhne backfired spectacularly enough to see her in choky. Oh, and just in case you did not think this was prattish enough, she also apparently started shagging Denis MacShane.

***

These are our fourth set of annual awards and in previous years we have had a strong international showing contending for Prat of the Year: three in 2010, three in 2011 and two in 2012. The USA has been particularly productive, giving us two prats in each of those sets of awards.

Not so in 2013: there is a sole entry from overseas in out top 5 this time, and that was the only one to make it into our panel’s top ten. Has the rest of the world become less prattish or is it just that Britain is now excelling in it so much that no-one else gets a look in?

OK, enough prevaricating, here’s the top five, in reverse order…

PratpantsFourth equal – Anthony Weiner

Our only international appearance in the top five goes to former US congressman and Mayor of New York hopeful, Anthony Weiner. Weiner first won our Prat of the Week award in 2011, when he was caught out sending photos of his ‘weiner’ over the internet to the ladies. He lost his seat in congress, but looked as if he might make a come back in this year’s race to pick up the Democrat nomination for Mayor of New York – leading the field as recently as July.

Instead, he blew his chances by continuing to send out photos of his dangly bits, under the faintly ridiculous moniker of ‘Carlos Danger’, this time to the also faintly ridiculously (real) named Sydney Leathers, telling her that he was an “an argumentative, permanently horny middle-aged man” . Leathers was 26 years younger, and a bit of a Republican. Unsurprisingly, the story came out and Weiner’s position in the polls drooped to a diminutive 5% in the primary.

On reflection, argumentative and permanently horny might not be such a great combination for a politician.

Paterson_prat Fourth equal – Owen Paterson

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs excelled himself this year with his bungled attempt to cull the badgers.

Paterson clearly has some anger management issues when it comes to badgers (I see him as a Tory version of Bill Murray’s groundkeeper taking on the gophers of Caddyshack) : determined to launch a national cull on the little black-and-white fellas, he only managed to get agreement for this massacre in Somerset and Gloucestershire, to be carried out by licencing shooting of 5,000 – that’s 70% of them there – at a cost of £7m. No attempt was to be made to test the slaughtered badgers to see if any of them were actually carrying the bovine TB that was the reason for the cull.

But things went a little awry. It cost £4m more than planned, due to additional policing costs. By October, it was clear that the numbers targeted were not being reached and so the cull was to be given another three weeks. The target number was also reduced down from 70% to 60%. An embarrassed Paterson appeared on the News, and was asked whether he was moving the goalposts.

Not his fault, he claimed. “That’s not right, the badgers moved the goalposts. We’re dealing with a wild animal, subject to the vagaries of the weather and disease and breeding patterns,” he said.

Cue much hilarity and mockery. “The badgers moved the goalposts“.

In The Thick Of It could not have bettered this masterstroke piece of prattishness.

Flowers_pratThird – Rev Paul Flowers

When it comes to being a total and utter prat, my personal favourite from 2013 was the Crystal Methodist, the Reverend Paul Flowers. To be fair to him perhaps someone told him that all bankers did all day was take drugs, use prostitutes and spunk millions up the wall. Unfortunately, the good reverend appears to have taken that all a bit too literally when put in charge of the Co-operative Bank.

I’m no fan of the bankers, but even I think they do something beyond the cocaine, crystal meth, ketamine and rent boys that the former chairman of the bank took to with such gusto.  Whilst also publicly supporting a drugs charity. Of course, it wasn’t all his own money going into this extra-curricular activity – it appears the customers of the failing bank may have helped pay for some of it.

As if getting caught by the media (including the classic text about his partying was ‘turning into a two day, drug fuelled gay orgy!!!’ as well as boasting he was “snorting some good stuff”) his appearance before the Treasury Select Committee was a skin-crawling embarrassment. Asked the size of the bank’s assets, he replied “£3 billion”. Only £44 billion out, then.

LibDem_pratSecond – Nick Clegg

The Liberal Democrats have managed to win Prat of the Year three years running now: Cable in 2010 and Clegg in 2011 and 2012. They an only manage the runners-up prize this year – note to Nick, you must try harder in 2014.

Besides the usual charges of keeping the most economically rightwing government since WWII in power and facilitating all its austerity measures, Clegg’s chief piece of ham-fisted stupidity during 2013 was his woeful handling of the Chris Rennard sexual harassment allegations. First came the denials that Clegg hd known anything about the allegations before they became public.

This story quickly unravelled, and he had to fly back from holiday to state that he had only heard some “unspecified allegations”. But they were specific enough for him to have sent Danny Alexander off to investigate and have a word with Lord Rennard.

Clegg then got all tetchy about “self appointed detectives” (i.e. the press) investigating the story rather than letting the Lib Dems two separate inquiries into the case run their course. He later admitted that the allegations had played a role in Rennard leaving his campaign supremo post.

Way not to handle a crisis Nick.

And the first prize goes to…

Shapps_pratMichael Green Grant Shapps!

In a cabinet with its fair share of prats, the Conservative Party chairman has done well to beat his rivals to this much coveted prize.

As well as the comedy provided by his conference-going, dodgy software-flogging alter ego Michael Green, it has been his stewardship of the chairman’s role that has propelled him to first place this year.

First, in March he somehow managed to oversee his party making a mess of the Eastleigh by-election in circumstances where the Lib Dems ought to have been toast. Instead of winning what was surely one of the by-election victory sitters of all time, the Tories managed to drop from second place to third, in part by seeming more extreme than the second-laced UKIP candidate.

He followed this up the following month with a party recruitment campaign poster. This tried to get away from the (pretty accurate) image of fusty pensioners running the party to target young people. But there can’t be that many young people in the Conservative Party to model this on, so he had to use a stock photo, from Australia. Unsurprisingly, he got caught out.

What is the most stupid thing to do if you are someone who is best known for adopting false names? How about going round accusing others of a “culture of secrecy” and telling them they need to be “more transparent”? In October, that is precisely what Shappsy-Boy decided to do about the BBC as he threatened to cut the licence fee and fly a kite for a post-election asset sale of parts of Auntie. A bit of menace mixed in with this act of prattishness, but pretty stupid nonetheless.

Finally, this month it was revealed that Shapps had acted against his constituency’s own Tory-run council, Welwyn Hatfield, in its plans to have much-needed new homes built on an under-used airfield in the district. He told the local Welwyn and Hatfield Times that he was campaigning for the Panshanger airfield to be designated as a “community asset that can never be replaced”. He forgot to mention that he was perhaps at least partly motivated by the fact he kept two airplanes he owned there. How do we know? Ah yes, a certain Michael Green boasted that he did.

Well done, Mr Shapps, well done. You richly deserve our Prat of the Year award. Just one question…

… should we engrave it with your name, or Mr Green’s?

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