The revelation of John Prescott's bulimia is not to be laughed at. Bulimia is a serious condition and he is to be praised for his decision to be honest about it. Most people believe bulimia only afflicts young girls who don't want to put on weight. It doesn't. It can affect anyone, as John Prescott's case clearly confirms. Prescott is clearly mildly embarrassed about it, which makes his decision to be open even more praiseworthy. Bulimia is like alcoholism. You can never be cured. It never completely goes away. But the first step to managing it is to recognise you suffer from it.
In some ways, his bulimia partly explains his affair with Tracey Temple, and no doubt others. We all think of politicians as supremely confident and outgoing people who wouldn't recognise shyness and self doubt if they hit them in the face. Many politicians are far from confident. Some are physically sick before making a public speech. Some have to force themselves in front of a TV camera and have serious problems overcoming their nerves. In short, they are just as human as the rest of us.
John Prescott always had a chip on his shoulder - some would say he had chips on both shoulders - about his background. He always felt that Tories were looking down on him. No doubt some were, just as they did on his own side. And it was this inate chippiness which no doubt fuelled his self doubt and his obsessive devotion to his work. In the end something had to give.
The story of Des Browne's difficulties tell a similar tale. It's easy to score cheap party political points and say that both these cases prove that they're just not up to the job, but it misses the main point. We should acknowledge that sometimes we put so much pressure on top politicians that they break.