John Prescott is a dedicated crime fighter, says Tony Blair
TONY Blair joined his old right-hand man John Prescott on the campaign trail in northern Lincolnshire yesterday.
During a flying visit to Barton, Labour's former Prime Minister told voters that Lord Prescott was a "dedicated crime fighter" and the ideal man for the job of Humberside Police and Crime Commissioner.
Speaking to the Grimsby Telegraph inside The Place cafe on Market Place, Mr Blair said: "It's an important position and he has got absolutely the right attitude towards crime. He is tough on it, he is a crime fighter, he puts the victim first and he will stand up for front line police officers who are under a lot of attack at the moment.
"The reason I am here to support John is that he will help the police to do the job that they have got to do.
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"We've got a situation where up to 500 frontline officers could go and we need someone who is prepared to stand up to the Government.
"John has got huge energy and commitment. He is a 100 per cent dedicated crime fighter and that's what you need."
Mr Blair said that being joined on the campaign trail by the man who served as his deputy PM during his ten years in Downing Street brought back some fond memories.
"It's been wonderful. He's on great form today. I had forgotten what a great speaker he is," Mr Blair said.
"He is someone I have worked very closely with and I think this is the ideal job for him. Throughout Government, whenever we were debating crime he was always on the side of strong law and order."
Lord Prescott was similarly effusive in his praise for Mr Blair.
He said: "We are very close and we have been a campaigning team for a long time. He is a brilliant politician and people listen to him."
Referring to Mr Blair's famous "tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime" speech, Lord Prescott said: "Crime in Humberside went down 40 per cent because of the policies we adopted. Tony is the man who articulated that message. They told him it wouldn't work. He can tell them it did.
"People thought we were soft on crime. I don't think I'm soft on many issues."
Looking ahead to Thursday's election, Lord Prescott insisted that he was fighting a marginal seat and would have to campaign as hard as Barack Obama to get elected.
He said: "People think Humberside is a safe Labour seat, but it's one of the most marginal. There are five Tory MPs and five Labour MPs. I'm like Obama. I've got to get every voter out."
Mr Blair's impromptu lunchtime appearance caused a stir with diners at The Place, causing many to pull out their camera phones in excitement.
Peter Drinkall, of Cleethorpes, said: "I was having a chat and the next thing Tony Blair walks in. It was unbelievable. It was nice to see him. I've always been a fan of his."
See pages 10 and 11 for John Prescott's profile as part of our series of features on the candidates.