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Political Editor Brian Taylor
"John Prescott was keen to swap pugilism for politics"
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Tim Reid reports
"I don't think it could get worse for Labour"
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Clinical psychologist Gareth Hughes
"We all at times blow it and we know we've blown it"
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Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 18:37 GMT
Prescott bounces back off the ropes
John Prescott and baby
A smiling John Prescott meets a potential voter
Labour's deputy leader John Prescott appeared to roll with the punches during his general election campaign trip north of the Border.

Mr Prescott was back on the canvas in a more conventional way, as he visited a Royal Mail sorting office in Edinburgh, followed by a stop at Prestonpans Labour Club in East Lothian to campaign with a Labour candidate.

A bullish Mr Prescott seemed to put his personal battle behind him, as he aimed to illustrate the election campaign was serious business.

He swept past a battery of reporters and photographers for a private look at the sorting office to see how it planned to cope with the impending election.

David McLetchie
David McLetchie: Best behaviour is order of the day

Although a small band of protesters were there to 'meet' the deputy leader, there was no chance of a repeat of the confrontation he had the previous day in Wales.

On Wednesday he was involved in a fracas with egg-throwing campaigners, but on Thursday in Scotland he was left holding the baby - literally - in the Prestonpans Labour club.

Mr Prescott would not face the full glare of the media spotlight after his altercation with the north Wales farmer.

'Political bruiser'

Rather, he opted to hold - a baby - one of the youngest Labour supporters he is likely to meet during the election campaign.

After deciding not to make an official statement north of the Border, it was left to the country's other politicians to comment on the dramatic chain of events.

Scottish Conservative Leader David McLetchie said: "John Prescott has always had the reputation of a political bruiser.

"It seems that yesterday he went a little over the top in responding to the egg throwing incident. I hope that when he is in Scotland today, he will conduct himself in a more orderly and dignified manner."

The Scottish National Party urged Labour to suspend Mr Prescott from taking part in the election campaign, condemning his actions as "highly inappropriate".

Roseanna Cunningham, SNP deputy leader, said: "Protesters shouldn't throw eggs, but under no circumstances should any politician, especially the deputy prime minister, throw punches.

"This is a serious matter, and New Labour should suspend John Prescott from their campaign pending police inquiries."

While the Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Jim Wallace said the electorate had exhibited a growing disenchantment with the Labour government in general.

Mr Prescott received support from MSP John Home Robertson who said throwing eggs would naturally spark a reaction.

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