Deputy PM's no bosom buddy

Jackie Ashley (7 May) criticises John Prescott, writing: "a real deputy prime minister would be closer to Tony Blair". From R A Butler through George Brown and Geoffrey Howe to Michael Heseltine, no deputy has been "close". "We all need a Willie" Whitelaw was influential, but not "close". A deputy prime minister has a title but no proper role - closeness, even if it existed, would not make the role real.

Alan Mumford
London SW18

This article first appeared in the 14 May 2001 issue of the New Statesman, We Tories must change, or face eternal oblivion