Prat of the Year Award 2014

by Jackie_South on January 4, 2015

2014_PratWe’ve had the Heroes of the Year, and the Villains of the Year. But who were 2014’s top prats? Who will be following in the footsteps of Vince Cable (2010), Nick Clegg twice (2011) (2012), and Grant Shapps (2013)?

Our panel have voted, the results are in…

But first, some of those who, despite their best efforts, failed to make the grade. No Tories make it in: Grant Shapps, Aidan Burley and Andrew Mitchell all received votes but not enough to put them in our top five. The Liberal Democrat party similarly failed to reach those heights (although one of its members did), and despite their supinely stupid behaviour in the Gate-gate saga and their fawning adoration of George Osborne, neither did the British media.

Abroad, the deeply ridiculous but even more deeply dangerous Kim Jong-Un was also in our top ten but not the final five. In sixth place, the Brazilian football team just failed to get in – they had to settle for our King of the Valleys turd jersey instead. Governor Chris Christie, whose prattishness has almost certainly cost him his chance to run for president, also fell short. But just across the Hudson River …

NewYork_prat5. Congressman Michael Grimm
You may have forgotten this one: early this year, the Republican congressman for New York’s Staten Island faced an FBI investigation into his dodgy campaign finances, which had already resulted in the arrest of his former girlfriend. Given that, Grimm probably should have expected a question or two about it on the telly.

Grimm’s response? To threaten to kill the journo by throwing him off the Capitol balcony. Unfortunately for Grimm, the camera was still rolling

You might have thought this might have been enough to bury Grimm’s re-election chances in his marginal district. Sadly, the Democrats did so badly that Grimm was re-elected despite this and the on-going investigation.

But Grimm eventually got his comeuppance: on 23 December, he pleaded guilty to tax fraud and admitted committing perjury, hiring illegal immigrants and committing wire fraud. Last Tuesday, he bowed to the inevitable and resigned his seat. A by-election will be held to replace him.

In the end, it was Grimm’s own political career that has been splattered over the marble floors of Congress.

Suarez_Prat4. Luis Suarez
24th June. Italy play Uruguay in the final group game of the World Cup to decide which will go through to the next round. After a goalless first half, Italy are down to ten men thanks to Marchisio’s red card. It looks like only a matter of time before the Italians go under as Uruguay apply the pressure on their goal.

So their star player, Luis Suarez, decides to pick this time to blatantly bite Giorgio Chiellini in the shoulder. Not subtly: he even rolls on the ground holding his teeth as if it is the shoulder to blame as the wounded Chiellini shows the world’s TV the bite-marks.

Uruguay won (thanks to the ref somehow missing the bite, they score from a corner whilst the Italians were complaining) but after FIFA review the incident Suarez was handed their longest ever ban (thanks to his two prior biting incidents) of nine matches, plus a £66 grand fine and not allowed to even touch a football for four months.

Uruguay consequently crashed out at the next round.

The impact of his absence on Liverpool’s performance shows what a gifted player Suarez truly is. But thanks to this incident, that is not what he will be remembered for.

LibDem_prat3. Nick Clegg
After an American and a Uruguayan, time for some home-grown prats. Ah, yes, the Deputy Prime Minister!

Can anyone work out what the Lib Dems still stand for? Do we even know if they support or oppose the bedroom tax – they’ve managed to vote to both abolish it and keep it within recent months. This year, they went from being a poor third in the polls to regularly being fourth, behind UKIP, and sometimes fifth behind the Greens. In this year’s European election, they came sixth (the SNP beat them too).

You might expect some humility given this fall from grace. No, Clegg continues in his smug and sanctimonious lecturing to one and all, and dropped heavy hints at this year’s conference that their post-May coalition preference would be another deal with the Tories.

Unlike Ray, I predict that Clegg will retain his seat in May. But many of his colleagues will not, and that is fundamentally down to the prattishness of their leader.

Our second-placed prats have been lucky that the media, on the whole, has given them a free ride. Two by-election victories have shifted that a little, and that scrutiny has dented some their polling in recent weeks.

But really? The latest Opinium poll gives them 17%. That means one in six people support a party that thinks that gay marriage causes floods, that Lenny Henry should move to a country “with a lot of blacks” (presumably not meaning his native Black Country) and that immigrants cause motorway delays.

Rarely a week goes by without some moron or other in the party sticking their foot in their mouth. The big question for May’s general election is whether enough voters realise or care enough to punish their fuck-wittery.

Labour_Prat1. Ed Miliband
This year’s number one is given in sorrow rather than with any glee. But the Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition was streets ahead of any other candidate in our panel’s voting.

Miliband has chalked up three Prats of the Week awards this year. All have been for gob-smackingly awful moments in his leadership: making a mess of the party’s position on rail privatisation, atrocious leadership in the Scottish referendum and his arse-achingly embarrassing conference speech.

Of the three, the latter was the worst. In the last conference before the election, he decided to repeat the trick from the 2013 conference of delivering a speech without an autocue or notes, and in doing so forgot key sections including on the deficit. Instead, there was an over-long ramble through various parks and retold random conversations with strangers. This will sadly be the predominant image burned into the electorate’s consciousness this May.

But it is not only his awkwardness (bacon sandwich and all), it is prattishness in his political positioning. Trying to straddle the two stools of a Blairite position and a populist left one, he has ended up surrendering most of his best instincts to play the New Labour game of triangulation whilst failing to recognise that that is a game that no longer yields results in the current atomised political spectrum. And despite doing this, he is still sniped at by right-wingers such as Blair and Simon Danczuk.

But Labour is stuck with him until May: the best alternative (Alan Johnson) shows no willingness to do the job.

The tragedy of course is that there have been moments of brilliance: taking on Murdoch, energy price freezes and rent controls, tighter control of predatory capitalism, defense of the “squeezed middle” (an initially ridiculed term that has become universal). But these bubble up too infrequently and he seems incapable of keeping up the momentum.

As John Cleese said in Clockwise “It’s not the despair. I can take the despair. It’s the hope I can’t stand.”

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