John Prescott's Battle Bus 'revved up and ready to go' in police commissioner race
Lord Prescott, the former Hull East MP and Deputy Prime Minister, has announced he wants to become Humberside’s first directly elected police and crime commissioner. Here, he talks to the Mail’s Angus Young about his motives and his chances of becoming the Labour candidate for the new £75,000-a-year post
Q Why have you decided to put yourself forward as a candidate for this new position?
A I've spent my life in public service and I don't want to stop now. This is an opportunity for me to continue that role, but in my own backyard, so to speak.
Q You are 74 years old in May. Shouldn't you be thinking about taking things a bit easier instead of throwing yourself into another election campaign with the prospect of taking on a very high-profile demanding job?
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A People can make their own judgment on my age and whether it's going to be a handicap or not.
I know I feel fit and fine and if I didn't think I was up to it I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now.
I've been working all my life and I like working.
What I have decided to do is knock all my work on climate change and Europe on the head to concentrate on this.
That involved a heck of a lot of travelling and that can be very tiring.
I'm happy with what I have achieved on climate change, but I feel I have gone as far as I can with it.
Q What does your family think about standing for election as the new police and crime commissioner?
A My wife said to me: "Aren't you worried about the stress?"
I told her I've lived with stress all my life, but she said: "I'm not talking about you, what about my stress with having you around here seven days a week."
Seriously, though, I talked the idea over with my family and one or two friends before deciding what to do. I didn't really talk to many people in the party, I relied on my family's views first and foremost and they are supporting me 100 per cent.
Q The post is expected to come with an annual salary of around £75,000. If elected, will you draw a salary?
A I will take whatever the salary is for the job. I think it would be a bit much to expect anyone to do a job like this for nothing.
I come from a trade union background, which is all about ensuring that people are properly paid for what they do.
Ultimately, as I understand it, it won't be the commissioner who decides what the salary is. It will down to the Government.
Q You were recently awarded £40,000 in damages from the publishers of the News Of The World as a result of being targeted in the phone-hacking scandal. Will you be using any of this money to fund your election campaign?
A Yes, I will. It's a bit ironic that Rupert Murdoch's money will be funding a campaign about greater public accountability involving the police, but the reality is that money will be needed for the campaign.
This election is not going to be cheap. You have to raise a £5,000 deposit just to stand as a candidate and the Government isn't even paying for one free leaflet like they do in general elections. The Labour Party has also made it quite clear it will not be providing any funding. I've already given some of that Murdoch money to charity, but I will be using some of it for the campaign if I am selected as the Labour candidate.
Q How do you intend to campaign if you are chosen as the Labour candidate?
A The Prescott Battle Bus is all revved up and ready to go!
It won't be as big as some of the buses I've used in previous general elections, but I want to get out and about in East Yorkshire and across the Humber to see as many people as possible and hear their views on what they think of the police and what they think a police commissioner should be doing.
I'm also going to be using social media a lot. The audience reach is amazing and it doesn't cost a thing.
The days of printing leaflets and posters are a thing of the past.
Q What is your relationship with current Chief Constable Tim Hollis like?
A I've known him for a long time through being an MP. In fact, I think he's the fifth or sixth chief constable I've known.
I think he's a man who believes in change and is a strong character.
He's done a good job and is passionate about policing. I admire him for that.
Q Some people might question your experience in policing and criminal justice issues. What would you say to them?
A Throughout my time as an MP, I've always kept a close interest in local policing. You have to really because that is a very big part of being an MP. My whole recent experience with the phone-hacking thing and what the Metropolitan Police got up to along with the News Of The World was a bit of a wake-up call for me because it showed the need for greater public accountability.
I'm not saying the police here are anything like the Met, but ordinary people need to have a say in the way policing is carried out.
What I would say is that I also have a great deal of national experience of policing and security issues from my time in Government. I actually chaired the Cobra (Cabinet Office Briefing Room) meeting after the London bombings on 7/7. I also sat on terrorism committees and was heavily involved in emergency planning after things like the floods.
I can bring all that experience to the table as well as my own track record of being a local MP in Hull for 40 years.
Q Will the image of you punching a protestor during the 2001 General election campaign come back to haunt you?
A I've got no control over what images the media use.
I've heard all the jokes about boxing and punching the crooks and I suppose they don't do me any harm.
In fact, a lot of Tories often tell me they don't like my politics but they like the cut of my jib. I think I know what they are talking about!
A I obviously know Colin quite well. Like me, he's a bit of a controversial guy. When you put us together, sometimes sparks can fly.
As a politician, he's got strong views and believes in pushing to make things happen. I wish him well.
I don't know Mr Hunter and I hear he thinks someone with a police background would be better suited for the job than a politician. I don't agree with that. I think there needs to be a clear separation between the police and the commissioner.
Q Police commissioners are a flagship policy of the Government, and the Conservatives in particular. Are you comfortable with that?
A I voted against it in the Lords, but once an Act is in place, you have to get on with it. Some sections of the Labour Party are still unhappy about it, but my view is that it actually mirrors a lot of what was I was arguing for when I was campaigning for better regional government.
Q You recorded an edition of Desert Island Discs last week. What was your favourite song?
A Stayin' Alive by The Bee Gees.