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Wednesday, 31 January, 2001, 13:58 GMT
Hague denies missing the bus
Tory battle bus
The 1997 Tory battle bus: Can Hague be sure of a lift?
Conservative election plans are thought to have suffered a setback after two key aides of William Hague were reportedly relieved of responsibility for organising the party leader's "battle bus" tour.

Mr Hague's chief and deputy chief of staff, Lord Coe and Nicholas Gleave, have handed on the task to other officials after they were able to produce only a broad outline programme, according to the Financial Times.

Lord Coe
Lord Coe: Off the buses
It was said to have left Conservative Central Office scrambling to pull together a detailed tour plan in time for the expected start of campaigning in just nine weeks time, ahead of an election widely predicted for 3 May.

Tory Party officials at first refused to comment on the report.

But the Conservative leader dismissed any idea that arrangements for his battle bus" tour were in chaos.

"That is fully organised, don't worry about that," Mr Hague told reporters at Westminister on Wednesday.

According to the newspaper report, the former Olympic athlete, Lord Coe, was spending so much time with Mr Hague that he had delegated the organisation of the election tour to his colleague, Mr Gleave.

Mammoth task

But by Christmas it had become apparent that neither man had been able to get to grips properly with the mammoth logistical task of arranging transport and venues.

The planning involves detailing where the party leader will be at almost every hour of every day of a campaign that will stretch over at least four weeks.

The battle bus tour, taking the leader criss-crossing the country with an attendant pack of journalists, is traditionally the focal point of the party's election campaign.

Lib Dem poster
Lib Dem election poster: "No bandwagons"
Meanwhile, Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy unveiled the first of his party's posters for the coming election with a swipe at his Tory counterpart.

The poster, launched in Smith Square, Westminster, and outside Conservative Central Office, has the slogan: "I jump on injustice not bandwagons."

The Lib Dem leader said his party would address the great injustices in Britain during their election campaign.

"The Conservatives cannot hide from their record in failing to provide for schools, hospitals and pensions. William Hague's Conservatives would make Britain a much less just society," he said.

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18 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Tories on election alert
08 Jan 01 | UK Politics
All eyes on election day
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Dissolution
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