On the police commissioner campaign trail with John Prescott as he addresses the (not quite) masses in Hull's main square


Subtract the three Union officials, the nine badge wearing local party members and the city's three Labour MPs - including former Home Secretary Alan Johnson – from the total at the John Prescott for Police and Crime Commissioner rally in Hull's Queen Victoria Square, and the is attendance figure is hovering around the zero mark.

To make matters worse, the campaign team have affixed their vast, yellow SAVE OUR POLICE (Wrong Cuts, Wrong Time) banner to the exterior wall of the ladies' public toilets, and the leaflet wielding Labourati are dispensing their literature less than a foot from the entrance. “Would you mind reading this madame?” asks one, of a passing shopper in her sixties. “I don't want a leaflet,” comes the curt response. “I want a wee.”

The Baron Prescott of Kingston upon Hull in the County of East Yorkshire, now in his seventy fifth year, doesn't look amused. “Why have they put you by the bogs Jon?” asks another, stopping to photograph him. “Are you going to clean up crime and the ladies toilets? That I would vote for.”

On the last day before the country's first ever Police Commissioner elections, it's 10am, it's bitterly cold, and within half an hour, the Labour Candidate for Humerbside will have come perilously close to another fist fight with a member of the public.

Concerns have been widely expressed that the elections will politicise the police force. It is patently obvious why. “These elected Commissioners will have a fair amount of power,” Alan Johnson told The Independent. “The power to hire and fire the chief constable for a start. The power to decide the budget. Now we wish these elections weren't happening, but we are at least trying to elect people - our candidates- who will act in apolitical way.”

Not, evidently, as far as Lord Prescott is concerned. “There are 30 million people voting tomorrow,” he says, having taken to the microphone (With turnout expected to be around 18 per cent, less than a sixth of that number are likely to do so). “This is not just about the police. This is a referendum on everything this incompetent government has done so far. On the health, on the education, on the local authorities. Don't tax the millionaires. Cut resources. Reduce wages.” Next up are his own, very personal issues, with the press, at which point he holds up a copy of the Sun and segues into fluent Prescottian.

“If the police want to cut crime, close the bloody Sun down because they're committing the crime, they're bribing the Police, they're tapping the phones. And they were in Liverpool as well, not just the Met area. They were in Yorkshire as well. Do you remember, that terrible tragedy at Hillsbury (sic)? It was The Sun that came out for the illegal. They didn't think it was illegal. They were the ones that supported it. That's why they don't buy The Sun in Liverpool.”

Baron Prescott's manifesto promises to stop Coalition cuts to 440 police jobs, and introduce a “late night levy” on problem pubs. “It's time to take back our town centres from drunken thugs for families and the elderly,” an issue that could hardly be more timely, as he is interrupted by a man in a baseball cap, visibly drunk at 11am, who breaks through one of the many wide gaps in the single line of listeners, raises two fingers and shouts: “You don't do fuck all.”

“Oh yeah? Come here and say something,” is Lord Prescott's reply. “We've got to do something about you lads. This is the case with the problem round here.”

“I'm not a problem. You're the fucking problem,” comes the reply. “You don't fucking do nowt.”

Karl Tucker, the newly elected MP for Hull East, tries to drag him off, but is stopped in his tracks. “Leave him, leave him, Leave him alone, he's one of the problems I've got to deal with.”

Eventually he's led away, to some gentle derision: “Thanks very much. You've just made my point. I promise you I didn't pay him to come.”

The man turns and comes back for another go, not realising he is trying to force his way part the Former Humberside Police Chief Superintendent Keith Hunter, there in support of Prescott, and the member for Hull East, red Labour scarf swinging with some menace, is tougher than he looks.

Baron Prescott has campaigned hard across a constituency with more than 700,000 voters, and he is likely to win, but with a very limited mandate, at least according to the former Home Secretary, Alan Johnson. “John deserves an award for standing in this election. Without him nobody would know these elections were happening. But this wasn't in the Conservatives' manifesto, nor the Lib Dems. No one voted for this. People won't turn out. If there were a place on the ballot form that said 'None of the above because I oppose the concept', I'm sure that would win across the country. If the turnout is under 20 per cent, people will need to make the next four years a consultation about doing the whole thing again. If it hasn't got public backing, why are we ploughing away at something that's not working?” We shall just have to wait and see.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: 3rd Line Virtualisation, Windows & Server Engineer

£40000 - £47000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A 3rd Line Virtualisation / Sto...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Service Engineer

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A successful national service f...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Sales - OTE £25,000

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Fixed Term Contract

£17500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently require an experie...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific