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Shadow Foreign Secretary Francis Maude
"Breathtaking that some people spread poison in this way"
 real 28k

Former Tory MP Michael Brown
"There's a blame game going on"
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Former Tory cabinet minister Gillian Shephard
"All political parties have camps"
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The Taylor family lawyer Neil O'May
"Damilola's parents want the focus to be on the police investigation"
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Monday, 18 December, 2000, 15:57 GMT
Tories warn of civil war
Francis Maude
Francis Maude: Spinned against?
The rancour and rivalry at the heart of the Tory Party has been revealed by the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Francis Maude.

Mr Maude said on yesterday's World This Weekend that people within the Party were spreading poison about their colleagues and that this was causing great damage.

He did not name names, but said that William Hague had given him an undertaking that anyone who briefed against his or her colleagues would be saved.

The Tory party is concerned about the civil war that will break out into the open on May 4th

Former Tory MP, Michael Brown
Today, a former Conservative MP, Michael Brown - now a columnist with the Independent - said there was indeed a battle underway between opposing factions.

Part of the problem, according to Mr Brown, is that senior officials at Central Office are jockeying for position - just in case William Hague is forced out of the leadership after the next election.

"The Tory party is so concerned about the civil war that will break out into the open on May 4th that they're simply not focussing on events between now and the general election itself," he said.

To make matters worse, there is also a philosophical divide opening up between those who want the party to be more caring and inclusive, and those who maintain that it needs to stick to its principles on issue like crime and welfare.

At the Tory Conference in the autumn, Michael Portillo, the Shadow Chancellor, led the way in promoting inclusiveness.

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His speech seemed very different in tone from that of Anne Widdecombe, who proposed radical measures to deal with the menace of drugs. She is known to have the enthusiastic support of many activists.

In the past few weeks, it is Mr Portillo and Mr Maude who have found themselves criticised in the press. Mr Maude, in particular, had to endure a series of unattributed attacks over his Commons performance after the Nice summit.

Now the Shadow Foreign Secretary has obviously had enough.

Battle for ideas

On the World at One the former Cabinet Minister, Gillian Shephard, did not deny that there was a battle for ideas within the party.

William Hague
William Hague: Drop in police numbers behind Damilola's death
She described this as the normal business of opposition, and promised that a uniform view would be presented in time for the election.

But Mrs Shephard sounded much more impatient about the predilection of insiders to conduct their feuds in public, and she said that such activities would have to stop.

"The public are very alert for any suggestions of splits. They don't like it. We learnt that at the last election," she said.

By coincidence, another row has broken out today over William Hague's weekend newspaper interview on law and order.

His decision to draw attention to the levels of police numbers on the Peckham estate where 10-year-old Damilola Taylor was murdered was condemned by Downing Street.

It also drew a complaint from Damilola's parents, whose solicitor said the boy's death should not be used as a political football.

Anne Widdecombe denied that any direct link had been made by Mr Hague, and that there could not be a policy 'no-go' area on such important issues.

The Home Secretary, Jack Straw, concluded that Ms Widdecombe, in her interview for the World at One, was issuing an apology of sorts on behalf of her leader.

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