BBC News: Election 2010 BBC News

Page last updated at 09:48 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 10:48 UK

John Prescott watched debate in working men's club

John Prescott watching the prime ministerial debate
Mr Prescott has stood down as MP for Hull East

Former deputy prime minister John Prescott was among those watching the prime ministerial debate at a Southampton working men's club.

Mr Prescott sat with members and drank lime and soda while watching the start of the 90-minute debate in Swaythling.

He told the BBC all three leaders were "seriously" giving answers to the questions put to them.

Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats each claim their leader triumphed in the debate.

Mr Prescott, who has stood down as MP for Hull East, stopped off in Southampton as part of a tour of the south of England on Thursday.

'Tight election'

He sat with John Denham, the sitting Labour MP for Southampton Itchen.

Speaking to the BBC during the debate, Mr Prescott said all three leaders seemed to be responding to and "challenging" each other.

He said: "My worry is not that they wouldn't give informed answers, my worry is that the press would look for informed answers but will talk about whether they have got a sweaty shirt or whether they haven't.

"That's the process in dealing with these things. I hope I'm wrong and I wait and see.

"I think in this, I hope there will be more serious answers adding to the political debate for people making a judgement, particularly in what is clearly seen by many as a tight election."

Club steward Mick Grassick said the atmosphere during the first televised debate was great.

"Prescott stood up and said his speech and after the debate on TV had a chat with people," he added.

"There was a big crowd here, there wasn't enough seats for everybody and some sat around on the floor."

In previous elections Swaythling was part of the Southampton Test constituency, but due to boundary changes it has become part of Romsey and Southampton North.

The candidates standing in Southampton Itchen constituency so far are: Labour: John Denham; Conservatives: Royston Smith; Lib Dems: David Goodall; Green Party: John Spottiswoode; Trade Unionist & Socialist: Tim Cutter.

The candidates standing for election so far in Romsey and Southampton North are: Lib Dems: Sandra Gidley; Labour: Aktar Beg; Conservatives: Caroline Nokes.

The candidates standing for election so far in the Southampton Test constituency are: Labour: Alan Whitehead; Conservatives: Jeremy Moulton; Lib Dems: David Callaghan; Green Party: Chris Bluemel.

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