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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 16:16 GMT 17:16 UK
Prescott turns on critics
John Prescott
Prescott: Attacked critics of the government
John Prescott has ended this year's Labour's conference by condemning Labour MPs who use the media to attack the government.

In what will be seen as an attack on former cabinet colleagues Robin Cook and Clare Short, Mr Prescott warned that the proper place for criticism was privately within the Parliamentary Labour Party.

In a call for unity, the deputy prime minister said the government's achievements in the past six years would be the envy of the Labour movement at any time in its history.

His was a crowd-pleasing speech delivered at the end of this year's Bournemouth get together.

It was followed by an operatic version of the Red Flag (the first time it had ended a Labour conference since 1999) and Jersusalem, neither of which Mr Prescott sang along to.

'Common endeavour'

Pouring scorn on reports of splits between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair he said: "This party knows, the whole country knows, that these two achieve more by their common endeavour than they do alone."

He added: "We hold in trust the memory of past generations whose pain, sacrifice and hard work built this party.

"We protect and promote the interests of today's citizens young and old, men and women, black and white.

Delegates, staff and visitors look back at the end of the Labour conference.

"If we fail now. If we tear ourselves apart as we have done in the past - that would truly be a betrayal. A betrayal of all those people who depend on a Labour Government to make their lives better."

Mr Prescott acknowledged the difficulty issues such as Iraq and foundation hospitals had caused within Labour.

"It's important to have the debates, no matter how controversial.

"Unfortunately too many people, in all parts of the party and on all sides of the argument say 'listen' when they really mean 'listen and then do as I say'.

"Tony and I have our discussions, in private, and we have our ups and downs.

"But when we do disagree I don't rush out and issue a press release or brief the newspapers."

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