THE former Deputy Prime Minister visited Chester as Labour stepped up the campaign trail in the city.

Lord Prescott, who lived in the city as a child, visited yesterday to try to boost Chris Matheson’s election chances in the City of Chester constituency.

The former Hull MP visited traders in the market before giving a speech to party activists outside the Town Hall and moving to the Cross where he gave another speech to a small crowd who gathered to listen.

During a speech on the same day that the Conservatives launched their manifesto, Lord Prescott, who also has family links in North East Wales, rejected accusations that Labour caused the financial crash and that the Conservatives were the party of the workers.

He said: “All the history of the Tory party is nothing to do with the workers.”

Referring to David Cameron, Lord Prescott said: “He is going to lift up the minimum wage? He opposed it.

“He is going to give the right to buy housing? Ordinary people can’t even afford the discount.

“He is now threatening trade unions by saying even if you get a majority vote, it won’t count.

“They wouldn’t know a worker if they saw them.

“The health service and education. That is what working people depend on and they have run them down since they have been in four years ago.”

Lord Prescott also spent some time talking about growing up in Chester. He said: “I lived here from about aged nine. My father was a railwayman.

“I went to school in Ellesmere Port and I sailed out of Liverpool when I spent 11 years as a seaman.

“ I now live in Hull but my connection is that I spent my formative years here.

“I love Chester. It is a beautiful city. I reckon the best in the UK.”

He also met his wife, Pauline, in the city. He added: “I met her in a bus stop just there [points to Foregate Street]. The buses don’t come here anymore. I was home, just off the ship wondering what I was going to do tonight and there she was, a beautiful woman in the bus stop and I asked her what she was doing tonight and took her to the pictures at the Regal.

“She is a Chester girl, of course, from Boughton Heath.”

Mr Matheson predicted a close result in Chester but said he was confident of victory.

“I think we are getting great support on the doorsteps. 

“People know the country isn’t working for them. Labour is the only party with any positive vision.”

Mr Matheson added: “We want to end the privatisation of the NHS and put patients first rather than profits.

“We have real ideas to increase housebuilding and increase protections for people in private rents.

“We are going to protect school funding from early years right through to 18. We are going to end the cruel bedroom tax.

“We are going to bring real prosperity back to all the people in Chester and all the people in the UK to make it a stronger fairer Chester so we are not concentrating the wealth of the nation at the very few at the top.”

After leaving Chester, Lord Prescott then moved on to campaign for Ellesmere Port and Neston Labour candidate, Chester solicitor and former councillor Justin Madders.

l Conservative candidate Stephen Mosley is defending a majority of more than 2,500 in Chester.

In 2010 he defeated Labour’s Christine Russell who had held the seat since 1997, becoming the first Labour and first woman MP for the city and winning three elections.