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banner Thursday, 28 September, 2000, 00:19 GMT 01:19 UK
Prescott rallies Labour troops
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott
Prescott: "We'll take them to the cleaners"
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott wound up the Labour conference with a barnstorming speech telling delegates to get out and start winning the next election.

Mr Prescott told conference the party would "take the Tories to the cleaners" at the next election.

He praised the prime minister as a "top-ranking" leader respected throughout the world.

He joked about Mr Blair's speech to the conference, saying: "It will take sacrifice, effort, yes blood, yes tears and perhaps we won't mention the sweat, Tony."

Turning back to the conference he said: "You should worry he put his arm around me! Tony has sent his suit to the cleaners but at the next election we are going to take Mr Hague to the cleaners and win that election."

Huge range of policies

Despite the leadership's defeat over pensions on Wednesday, Mr Prescott said much had been achieved during the week.

"We've had the odd disagreement this week, but don't lose sight of the huge range of policies we have agreed on this week for people in this country," he said.

Laying into Tories during his knockabout speech, he said: "I call them the Burger Kings of British politics - every minute another whopper."

He accused the Conservatives of having no compassion. Instead, he said, theirs was a callous conservatism, its trademark pandering to fear and prejudice.

In his address, Mr Prescott attacked William Hague, claiming he was a bandwagon politician.

"Fourteen pints, Billy Fizz - drunk in charge of a bandwagon," he joked.

"The Tories are a joke," he continued. "But they are a very dangerous joke ... in the summer they had compassionate conservatism.

"I couldn't believe my ears. Hague, Portillo, Widdecombe, Redwood - compassionate conservatism? Think about it."

Mr Prescott also attacked the press for trading in "tittle tattle" but added: "That doesn't matter. They have their agenda and we have ours."

Solidarity

He called on delegates to recruit more members before the next election.

"Be confident. Be proud. Walk tall. Get out there and tell the people what we have done.

"Tell them what we will do with their support. Tell them what the Tories would do if they ever came back. And remember to ask the people to join the Party. Our solidarity is our strength."

Mr Prescott told the conference Labour had been delivering on its promises.

"We have got a simple message to tell. Labour has got the economy on a steady course, which meant taking some difficult decisions.

"Now we are investing in our public services - hospitals, schools, police and transport."

The Tory alternative, he insisted, was 16 billion of spending cuts.

On the Party's 100th birthday, Mr Prescott said the Labour movement had civilised the 20th Century with its vision of democratic socialism - and he called for its values to be carried on into the 21st Century.

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See also:

25 Sep 00 | Labour
Prescott takes on the world
27 Sep 00 | Labour
Labour defeated over pensions
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