Letter:Prescott, Blair and Labour principles

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Sir: My heart leapt for joy when I read John Prescott's plea for a return to "principles" in Labour Party politics during his interview with Colin Brown (16 August). The effect was, however, rather spoilt when John went on to admit that he had "headed up" a team which masterminded the least principled election in the history of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

No one should be in any doubt about what happened in the Shadow cabinet election. Some candidates were threatened into not standing, others were offered favours and, if that was not enough, the proxy voting system was abused.

Surely honest John has been in politics long enough to understand that without free and fair elections politics can never be principled. I would not like John to go down in political history as the man whose only principle was lack of principle. I therefore advise him to read Tony Benn's excellent book Arguments for Democracy.

There is, however, one point upon which I agree with John and Tony Blair and that is that my estimable colleague Clare Short should stop whingeing, stop talking about herself and come out fighting on matters of policy.


(Hackney South and Shoreditch, Lab)

House of Commons

London SW1