The Labour Leadership: Deputy claims victor 'scares life out of Tories': Extracts from John Prescott's acceptance speech yesterday

THE Labour Party has every reason to be proud of this election. It has been the biggest democratic exercise carried out by any party in British political history. What a contrast with the 185 Tory MPs who elected John Major - not even 50 per cent. A minority Prime Minister in a minority government, desperately hanging on to power.

We are reaching out, as never before, to people all over Britain. This election has forced full employment to the top of the political agenda. Even the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and Mr Hunt (David, former secretary of state for employment), having made millions unemployed, began to talk in public of full employment.

But in private they carried on planning for unemployment in all parts of Britain - in the shipyards, in industry, in public services, in transport, health and education - closing down whole communities, especially in our mining areas. That is typical of Tory hypocrisy. It's business as usual. Lying about tax. Lying about unemployment. Lying about our health service.

If you had any doubt about it, look at what (John) Major did yesterday. He sacked the employment secretary for going to the TUC and daring to utter the words 'full employment'. And replaced him with the sneering and cynical Portillo (Michael, former chief secretary to the Treasury) the axeman, who built his own career on the backs of the hundreds of thousands of workers whose jobs he destroyed . . .

The Tories are vindictive, incompetent and they have lost the moral authority to govern. We have the will to win and the competence to put our people back to work. And in Tony, we have a leader we can all get behind who will take us forward to government.

This man, our new leader, has got what it takes . . . He has the energy and the vitality to win people over to Labour. And he scares the life out of the Tories - and me. It's started already.

Labour's new leadership have already forced John Major to reshuffle his Cabinet. The Tories have picked their team for the general election. We have elected our team for the general election. So why are we waiting? The people don't want a reshuffle of government - they want a change of government. Britain wants a general election now. Labour is ready and willing whenever John Major can summon up the courage to call one.

So let's get out there, let's get behind Tony, and let's show through the force of our ideas and the strength of our commitment that Labour will govern again. Let's get on with it.