John Prescott quietly stood down from his role of deputy leader of the Labour party today as the media focus was on Tony Blair.
He got into trouble with gay Labour supporters last year over his close relationship with homophobic billionaire Philip Anschutz, who owns London’s Millennium Dome.
Mr Anschutz has donated sums of money to Colorado for Family Values, an organisation with explicitly anti-gay views.
However, Mr Prescott, despite a notoriously bad relationship with Peter Mandelson, was vocal in his support for gay rights.
The 68-year-old Deputy Prime Minister wrote to his local constituency party in Hull East revealing his intention to stand down.
He also gave them a detailed defence of his controversial time in office.
Here is a transcript:
As you know, for 37 years I have been proud to serve as your Labour Member of Parliament for East Hull.
“For 13 years I have had the added privilege of being the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and, since 1997, serving as Tony Blair’s Deputy Prime Minister.
“You well remember, as I do, those 18 dark years of Opposition, when millions were unemployed, our economy suffered two terrible recessions and our schools, hospitals and public services were starved of investment.
“During those years in East Hull, we discussed the ideas and policies for a future Labour Government, saying that things could be different.
“Indeed, I produced many pamphlets explaining this, in which we sought to convince the wider Party of the need for these policies.
“It started with a debate on the regions, and I produced the pamphlet an ‘Alternative Regional Strategy’ which set out the case for decentralisation, which has been implemented by this Government.
“The pamphlet ‘Planning for Full Employment’ and ‘Real Needs – Local Jobs’ set out the case for full employment.
“Later I produced a further one, ‘Jobs and Social Justice’ which made clear that economic prosperity and social justice were achievable, that they are two sides of the same coin, again demonstrated by
this Labour Government.
“On transport, I produced pamphlets called ‘Moving Britain into the 1990s’ and ‘Moving Britain into Europe’, which respectively set out the case for a huge increase in investment in our transport services and the case for a high-speed European rail link.
“I am proud that this Government has massively increased investment in our transport network. I had to rescue the Channel Tunnel Rail Link on coming into office, when it was on the brink of collapse.
“It is now due to open this November on budget, on time.
“The new forms of financing used for the Channel Tunnel Rail Link were spelt out in the pamphlet ‘Financing Infrastructure Investment’. It made the case for the private sector working with the public sector to increase investment.
“These radical new ways of public financing were agreed by Gordon, who had the courage to implement them – he is, without doubt, the most successful Chancellor this country has ever had.
“These policies have led to a massive £53 billion extra investment in our public services and also led to innovations, such as congestion charging and the hypothecation of the revenue raised back into our transport network.
“I have been especially pleased, representing a seafaring constituency, to have developed policies on shipping with the publication of ‘Full Steam Ahead’.
“By introducing the shipping tonnage tax, we have been able to reverse the decline in the British fleet, which has seen an increase in the registered fleet increase by more than fourfold, from 3.5 million to over 14 million tonnes.
“And on a more personal level, I was able to implement policies that has seen Hull share in the increasing jobs and prosperity and seen our city develop.
“I was able to initiate an inquiry into the Gaul trawler as well as inquiries into the bulk carrier Derbyshire and the Marchioness cruiser on the Thames, something which had been refused by the previous administration.
“When I stood for the Deputy Leadership back in 1994, I produced my manifesto, ‘Policies into Action’, which contained many of the policies and ideas in those earlier pamphlets.
“I am proud to have been able to implement those policies in my 10 years in government as Deputy Prime Minister, and my time as Secretary of State for Transport, Environment and the Regions.
“With my responsibility for the environment, I was particularly pleased to have played a key role in the negotiation of the Kyoto agreement, which led to international action on climate change and set the framework for the current discussions on the need for action on this crucial international issue.
“Since 1997, there are now 2.5 million more jobs, 2 million council tenants now living in decent homes, record investment in our schools and hospitals, millions of families and pensioners lifted out of poverty, record investment in local communities, like here in Hull, and the transformation of our cities and towns.
“As I informed you and the East Hull Executive a couple of weeks ago, I intend to stand down as Deputy Leader of the Labour Party. I also gave written notice to the National Executive Committee officers and the General Secretary of the Labour Party two weeks ago that it was my intention not to continue as the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
“Tony and I were elected together back in 1994 and it has been an honour to serve as Deputy to the most successful Labour Prime Minister ever.
“To have been Deputy Leader and the longest serving Deputy Prime Minister is a matter of great pride to me.
“This Government is testament to the fact that it is possible to apply
traditional Labour values in a modern setting.
“I passionately believe that it will continue to do so under a new Leader and Deputy, and that we have the values to convince the British people that we deserve a fourth term in government.
“But most of all I would like to thank you, the East Hull Constituency Labour Party and all the people of East Hull, for your continued support – I couldn’t have done it without you all.
“John Prescott MP.”
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