The Third Leader: Greatest hits

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The Independent Online

Say what you like about John Prescott - and a lot do - he has always had a terrific talent to surprise, as that Welsh chap with the egg and the mullet in the 2001 election campaign found out. For one thing, it's difficult to know what he's going to say next, and, often, what he's just said.

For another, the Deputy Prime Minister doesn't seem especially bothered about what the small- or literally minded might consider inconsistencies in his political persona, hence the unsloughable nickname relating to multiple saloon car ownership and the references to his "mansion" in Hull.

But, now, an iPod man? Remarkable. Almost as remarkable as what he has on there: The Jam's "A Town Like Malice". Blimey. JP as the Modfather, new-wave post-punker. I know it's because the song is in one of his favourite films, but that's Billy Elliot. Billy Elliot. Another track is from Saturday Night Fever, to which, he says, he often has a go at "breakout" dancing at home. So that's the white suit and the Bee Gees, too.

He's also disclosed who should have played him in a film: the Marlon Brando of On the Waterfront, in which a man with boxing skills and problems articulating stands up to powerful union bosses, as did, of course, you know.

Brando, Travolta, Julie Walters: there is a powerful message here, but, as usual, it needs decoding. Zest, energy, but most of all, the importance of standing up, " 'cos," as Paul Weller so memorably put it, "time is short and life is cruel - but it's up to us to change."

Forget that shoo-in, Gordon: the Old Contender is strutting his stuff!

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