26 September 2000
Prescott’s speech – What the papers say

By FWi staff

JOHN PRESCOTTS scathing remarks about pro-hunting protesters at the Labour Party Conference receive prominent coverage in many morning newspapers.

The Deputy Prime Minister won a rousing ovation from delegates when he accused demonstrators outside of driving a wedge between town and country.

He asked why pro-hunting Countryside Alliance demonstrators did not take to the streets when the Conservatives were reducing rural services

Mr Prescott said whenever he saw the “contorted faces” of Countryside Alliance supporters, it made him more determined to have foxhunting abolished.

The Daily Mail says Mr Prescott “took on the mantle of class warrior” with his speech and was “provoking a countryside class war”.

The Times follows a similar tack, claiming Mr Prescotts tub-thumping speech “reopened the class war”.

Furious Countryside Alliance chairman John Jackson accused Mr Prescott of “control freakery” akin to “the Stasi or thought police”.

In The Daily Telegraph the alliances director of communications Nigel Henson described the comments as “despicable attempt at rabble-rousing”.

And Tory environment spokesman Archie Norman said Mr Prescotts attack shows that he “hates Middle England”.

The Financial Times reports that with his “feisty performance” Mr Prescott was “declaring war on the tweed jacket and corduroy brigade”.

Claims from the Labour leader in the Lords, Baroness Jay, that she understood rural problems because she has “a little cottage in the countryside” come under fire in the Mail.

A Countryside Alliance spokesman retorted that the countryside is a workplace for many people, not just “a weekend retreat for politicians”.