John Prescott the unstoppable campaign phenomenon?
LORD Prescott has been hailed as an "unstoppable phenomenon" as Labour launched its campaign for November's police and crime commissioner elections.
In her keynote speech to the Labour Party conference in Manchester, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper praised the former Deputy Prime Minister and Humberside candidate as one of several "talented candidates".
And Shadow Police Minister David Hanson, a graduate of the University of Hull, said he would back Lord Prescott if he still lived in the city, "not because he's Labour, but because he's the best candidate".
Voters in the force area will choose from seven candidates bidding for the £75,000-a-year role on November 15.
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The winning candidate will replace Humberside Police Authority, which is being abolished, and take charge of its £180 million budget.
Ms Cooper admitted Labour had not supported the introduction of elected police and crime commissioners, but told conference policing was "too important to turn our backs on these elections now".
The Shadow Home Secretary also announced Labour would replace the Independent Police Complaints Commission with a stronger Police Standards Authority.
Private sector involvement in policing, meanwhile, would be subject to "tough tests" or "blue lines".
"We don't want private companies patrolling the public streets of Britain," Ms Cooper said. "We want police officers and commissioners doing the job."
Mr Hanson, who was also vice-president of the university's students' union in the late 1970s, said he thought Lord Prescott would do "a great job" but that he needed to "break out of the traditional Labour support base in Hull and Grimsby" in order to appeal more broadly.
"He's well known in the area," said Mr Hanson. "People know him, they know what they're going to get and they will make a judgment if they like what they see."
Mr Hanson admitted voter turnout could be as low as 15 to 20 per cent, with the winning candidate elected on less than 10 per cent of the vote.
"That's not going to be good for democracy," he said, "But we're committed to making this work."
Lord Prescott, former MP for Hull East, is one of seven candidates vying for the position.
The others are Conservative candidate Matthew Grove, Liberal Democrat Simone Butterworth, UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom and independent candidates Paul Davison, Walter Sweeney and Neil Eyre.