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Labour's secret weapon – Prezza

John Prescott, whose tour of Britain in a battle bus enlivened the 1997 general election, is going back on the road, but this time he's using a minibus.

The former Deputy Prime Minister, now a backbench MP for Hull East, will tour the north of England to persuade Labour voters to turn out for the European Parliament elections in June.

Mr Prescott was the public face of traditional Labour when Tony Blair invented New Labour. Since leaving government, he has taken to the internet with the gusto of a teenager, tweeting and blogging almost daily.

His bank holiday week campaign to rescue Labour from electoral oblivion will therefore be a mix of the old-fashioned and the new. One minute, he will be on the doorstep; the next on Facebook. In an email yesterday, he said: "It's vital we continue fighting for social justice and stop the hate-filled BNP."

The tour will begin in Liverpool on 1 May, finishing up in Hull on Bank Holiday Monday. Elections to the European Parliament are conducted on a proportional system, and so there is a real prospect that the BNP could win its first seat on 4 June. Other small parties, including the Greens and UKIP, already have seats in the Strasbourg assembly.