BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 10:38 GMT, Saturday, 24 April 2010 11:38 UK

John Prescott urges Labour: Fight for election victory

John Prescott
Talk of a hung parliament is not what Mr Prescott hears on the campaign trail

John Prescott has urged Labour to fight for a clear victory in the election, no matter if the winning margin is small.

The former deputy prime minister admitted the party was not storming to victory, but said it must "fight for it, you've got to put your case".

As polls suggested the Lib Dem bounce remained after the second TV leaders' debate, he said it was a two horse race between Labour and the Conservatives.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today he did not believe in coalition government.

His comments came as Gordon Brown said the party had to "up the tempo" in the campaign and as strategists told the BBC he was to meet more ordinary voters on the campaign trail, rather than Labour supporters.

Polls suggest Labour are in third - or tied for second - place after the post-TV debate Lib Dem rise.

Coalition speculation

It has prompted debate about whether Labour would form a coalition government with the Lib Dems if it failed to win an overall majority.

But Mr Prescott criticised talk of a hung parliament, saying: "I believe you want a strong government.

"But if you spend all your time talking about hung parliaments, don't be surprised if the people thinks that's the inevitable outcome."

He said previous Labour election majorities of "160 have seduced us to the idea" that a big majority was needed for government.

"We've had strong government with four and five majorities for God's sake," he said.

"Let's face the reality - it's about are we going to keep health, are we going to keep education are we going to keep people in work, that's what it's about."

Mr Prescott told Today he had faced few questions on the "blimmin' road" about the hung parliament.

Cameron attack

What Labour needs, he said, "is the turnout and I'm out to increase the turnout".

"We've got to persuade people to come back to Labour. We do it on leadership and delivery. On both those things we have an excellent record.

"You've got to fight for it and you've got to put your case."

His comments came as Conservative leader David Cameron also went on the attack over the possibility of a hung parliament.

Speaking at an event in Thurrock, Essex, he said the resulting bargaining between politicians would fail to bring change on the economy, immigration, crime and the political process itself.

He said: "There is one group of people who would love a hung parliament and that's the politicians.

"The people who would be let down are those people who want to keep interest rates low and get our economy going."

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