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The BBC's Guto Harri
"He warned of the danger of 4 more years under Labour"
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The BBC's Carolyn Quinn
"Mr Hague claimed he was speaking common sense for the mainstream majority"
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Monday, 5 March, 2001, 18:08 GMT
Tory critics round on Hague
William Hague addressses the Conservative Party spring conference in Harrogate
Hague is under fire from Tory old guard over policy
A former Conservative MP who defected to Labour has joined the chorus of criticism aimed at William Hague's speech to party activists at the weekend.

Shaun Woodward said Mr Hague's speech in Harrogate - warning that a Labour election victory would turn Britain into a "foreign land", where British people no longer felt at home - appealed to the "worst prejudices and instincts" of some voters.

It was a speech which catalogued everything William Hague was against ... an account of every worst prejudice he could arouse in his audience

Shaun Woodward
The MP, who defected to Labour in 1999, accused Mr Hague of indulging in "red-faced ranting and frothing" in his speech to the Tory spring conference.

"It was a speech which catalogued everything William Hague was against. As such, it provides an account of every worst prejudice he could arouse in his audience," he said.

The speech has also been attacked by former Tory prime minister Sir Edward Heath and former Tory deputy prime minister Michael Heseltine.

In his speech to party activists in Harrogate, Mr Hague warned British voters that the general election could be the last chance they have to choose their own government.

A Labour victory would mean so much power being handed over to Brussels that Britain would lose its sovereignty, its independence and its power to control its own destiny, he said.

'Trust the people'

Mr Hague rejected suggestions that his attitudes were racist or xenophobic.

He said: "We trust the people.

"They are not bigoted or ungenerous.

Let me take you on a journey to a foreign land - to Britain after a second term of Tony Blair

William Hague

But the former Tory prime minister, Sir Edward Heath, warned that his party was in "grave danger" of making similar mistakes to those which convulsed the Labour Party after its 1979 election defeat.

He said the party had to change if it wanted to return to power.

And the former deputy prime minister, Michael Heseltine, sharply criticised Mr Hague's warning that Labour would turn Britain in to a "foreign land" if they won the next election.

Michael Heseltine
Heseltine: 'Growing xenophobia'
The former deputy prime minister told the BBC: "We disagree. Does anyone seriously think that France is a foreign country? Or that Germany is a foreign country?

"These are great giant nation states fighting for their self-interest and they believe that their self-interest is better sought and protected and advanced in concert with their neighbours than apart from them."

Commons Leader Margaret Beckett said: "There's no need to imagine what our country would look like under the Tories because we can all remember Tory Britain.

And Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy condemned Mr Hague's speech as "not common sense but complete nonsense".

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See also:

04 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Hague plays 'patriot' card
02 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Uphill struggle for Hague
03 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Hague - the King of Harrogate?
07 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Hague wants euro election campaign
18 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Tories on election alert
03 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Heseltine's 'dilemma over voting Tory'
04 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Tories demand new EU treaty
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