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Imagine. There you are, thrown out of your dinghy amid swirling rapids, flailing around, crying for help, when whose concerned visage looms on your narrowed horizon, but that of the Deputy Prime Minister. Your life flashes before you. Spluttering and bleeding, do you push his proffered arm away (and risk a retaliatory cuff)? Take your once-only chance to denounce the Government to its face? Mention Iraq? Cold, wet and concussed, you throw yourself on your rescuer's mercy. And thank your guardian angel that it was the brawny John Prescott on the shore of Lake Bala, not one of his lighter-weight comrades.

Imagine. There you are, thrown out of your dinghy amid swirling rapids, flailing around, crying for help, when whose concerned visage looms on your narrowed horizon, but that of the Deputy Prime Minister. Your life flashes before you. Spluttering and bleeding, do you push his proffered arm away (and risk a retaliatory cuff)? Take your once-only chance to denounce the Government to its face? Mention Iraq? Cold, wet and concussed, you throw yourself on your rescuer's mercy. And thank your guardian angel that it was the brawny John Prescott on the shore of Lake Bala, not one of his lighter-weight comrades.

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