Full cry, few full stops: John Prescott

AN extract from John Prescott's bravura speech:

I'm sad when I hear people from one side of the movement attack another - because trade unionists argue with the fervour that they have about this issue, that their conference has made a decision and that we're perhaps a little bit annoyed that they can't change to a different one shouldn't be a reason for attacking them defending a democratically arrived decision in the movement . . . we and the national executive have to understand those differences and try to find an agreement, that's why you elect us . . . in order to try to arrive at a common agreement and consensus . . . and that's what this debate is about. I think the unfortunate thing that again has been reflected in the movement and in this debate came I think from the difficulties that this debate started with - there were people in the movement looked around for scapegoats when we lost the last election and they took the view that the reason was it was the relationship with the trade union movement and what we should do is break that trade union relationship, I don't believe it, I fully reject it and I'm glad that the support of the conference last year rejected it. Let us also recognise that we come from our own different backgrounds and we're influenced by our experiences . . . but can there be any doubt that if John Smith doesn't have the same background as I have, can you have any doubt about a commitment to a strong trade union connection to this party after this week and the TUC only a few weeks ago? So I say to those comrades who started that debate - you did us no favour, you threw doubt on the essential contribution if we are to win the election, there is the unity and the solidarity of this movement to fight a common enemy - the Tories - and not ourselves, and I'd say it came a bit much to hear from them because they were the ones that basically attacked me as the traditionalist that they had control of most of those decisions in those elections - they lost and a little bit more humility from them would have been expected and should have been expected, so I say, let us put that all behind us . . . When I talk to delegates they tell me that the proposals from the executive, some feel, are a direct attack on the relationship of trade union, I will have no part in supporting any motion that I believe does that in weakening the relationship between the trade unions and the Labour Party, and, I might add, many changes in the traditionalists and modernisers I might have seemed to appear since I argued the case for the NEC that I've moved from a traditionalist to be a moderniser - I reject that. I like the traditional views, but let me say this clearly: some of the changes put forward by people being accused of traditionalists in the trade unions - they were the ones that made a number of powerful recommendations for changes that we didn't take on board.

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