John Smith 1938-1994:: Donald Macintyre and Patricia Wynn Davies assess the potential contenders for the Labour leadership: John Prescott, 52
Friday 13 May 1994
Born in Prestatyn, North Wales, the son of a white-collar railwayman, the former steward on Cunard passenger liners was an activist during the 1966 strike by the National Union of Seamen.
Known for his short fuse, sometimes directed towards the media, he often seems on the point of breaking out against his more circumspect colleagues from a left position. He is sometimes seen as a left-wing - and more sober - version of the late George Brown.
Popular with loyalist audiences and blunt spoken, his greatest hour recently was his delivery of the 'one member, one vote' reforms for John Smith through a powerful platform speech at last year's Labour party conference.
Far shrewder than his public persona and still-boyish enthusiasm may suggest, he has been erroneously branded as inflexible and old-fashioned.
Yet it was he who successfully persuaded Mr Smith and Neil Kinnock to modify Treasury rules to allow more private sector investment in railways, and who from a union base helped persuade the unions they had to reduce their hold on Labour party elections.
Enemies still say he has a chip on his shoulder, is politically irresponsible and is too much of a rough diamond to be party leader.
Friends say his directness and straight-speaking endear him to many voters, and that he is one of the most assiduous political ambulance-chasers in the business.
He still gives the impression of a politician with feelings in an age of cynicism among both parliamentarians and public.
He is a jazz fan. His wife, Pauline, bears more than a passing resemblance to a younger Joan Collins.
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Lammily: Barbie-like doll hits Kickstarter fundraising target in a day
12 Years A Slave star Lupita Nyong’o on racism in beauty: 'Every day I woke up hoping my skin was a little bit lighter'
Belle Knox: How a porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Oscar Pistorius trial: Neighbour feared South African athlete would use gun that killed his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp to shoot himself
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world: Singapore named costliest place to live – but what about London?
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 First clip of Outkast's Andre 3000 in Jimi Hendrix biopic All Is By My Side emerges
£1200 per month: Inspiring Interns: Our client is one of Europes leading mobi...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Founded in 2008 by two Chinese tech entre...
£12000 - £18000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a high-end niche t...
£22000 - £25000 per annum, Benefits: Subsidised gym membership, 25 days holiday...