Prescott plays down peace marches

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott has played down the significance of the weekend's massive peace marches.

He claims he was not "worried" about an apparent lack of public support for a war on Iraq.

During a visit to the Lake District, Mr Prescott said Governments had to make decisions that were unpopular.

Saturday's march in London was not a "worry" to the Government, he said.

Instead he praised Tony Blair's "powerful" speech to the spring conference in Glasgow.

He added: "Nobody has done more than Tony Blair to get people around the table for a UN solution to a problem which has been there for more than 12 years."

Of Mr Blair's speech, he added: "I saw a man of courage, integrity and honesty. That is what the delegates saw. The emphasis is very much about the United Nations and that is what Tony Blair said."

Asked by members of the public whether the peace protests, which organisers claimed drew two million people to the capital, worried the Government, he said: "I don't think it is a worry about the lack of support."

As a party in Government, rather than in opposition, he said there were both "popular" and "unpopular" decisions to be made.

Mr Prescott was in Keswick, Cumbria, to see a £1.9 million town centre pedestrianisation scheme as part of work to give rural areas a long-term future.