John Prescott slams Tony Blair and ex-adviser John McTernan

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LORD Prescott has lashed out at Tony Blair as the Labour leadership race threatened to plunge the party into a bout of bitter infighting.

The Labour heavyweight - who served for many years as Mr Blair’s deputy - said comments by the former prime minister about the supporters of left-winger Jeremy Corbyn were “totally unacceptable”.

John Prescott hit out at Tony Blair over his comments about Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Robert Perry

John Prescott hit out at Tony Blair over his comments about Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Robert Perry

In a rare intervention in Labour politics, Mr Blair suggested that anyone whose heart told them they should back Mr Corbyn should “get a transplant”.

Lord Prescott told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I found that absolutely staggering. To use that kind of language is just abuse. The Labour Party is about the heart as well as the head.

“To suggest that somebody should have a transplant if they are making decisions by the heart is totally unacceptable.”

He rejected claims that it would be a “disaster” for Labour if Mr Corbyn became leader and said it was Mr Blair’s invasion of Iraq which had undermined support for the party.

Who the heck is John McTernan? He advised in Scotland and we lost, he advised in Australia and we lost, he wasn’t in the Blair camp of any substance whatsoever. He has no authority

John Prescott

“Tony, on the doorstep it was Iraq that stopped a lot of people voting for us,” he said, adding that the former premier “should think about the reasons” why support for the party had fallen.

Lord Prescott also hit out at the former Blair adviser, John McTernan, who said that MPs who “lent” their nominations to Mr Corbyn to insure he made it onto the ballot paper even though they did not support him were “morons”.

“Who the heck is John McTernan? He advised in Scotland and we lost, he advised in Australia and we lost, he wasn’t in the Blair camp of any substance whatsoever. He has no authority,” he said.

Amid reports that Mr Corbyn would face an immediate plot by MPs to oust him if he won, Lord Prescott warned that whoever became leader was entitled to the full support of the party.

'Totally unacceptable': Lord Prescott hit out at Tony Blair's comments. Picture: Getty

'Totally unacceptable': Lord Prescott hit out at Tony Blair's comments. Picture: Getty

“If the party elects any one of these candidates they have the authority of the party to lead (the) party,” he said.

While he did not believe Mr Corbyn would win, he suggested the reason he appeared to be doing so well was the failure of his rivals - particularly Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper - to stake out strong policy positions.

“Candidates should now move into the areas of policy - that’s why Jeremy is doing so well, they know where he stands,” he said.

“The candidates need to be clear where they stand on welfare, on expenditure, on the economy, on housing. Start talking about where you stand on the main issues.

“Liz (Kendall) is doing it. She makes it clear where she stands. I don’t think the party likes the message. Jeremy is giving a different message - clearly many of them seem to like what he says about principle and austerity.”

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