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The BBC's Guto Harri
"Whether they believe it or not... Conservatives have to pretend they can win the election"
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The BBC's Nick Robinson
"William Hague is saying he won't prejudge the election date"
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The BBC's Elaine Lester
"The party's would-be ministers are outlining their first moves should they get into office"
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Saturday, 3 March, 2001, 22:00 GMT
Hague: Tories ready for election
William Hague
Fighting talk: Conservative leader William Hague
Conservative Party leader William Hague has said the Tories are ready for a general election whenever the prime minister wants to call it.

Arriving at his party's spring conference in Harrogate, Mr Hague said the party was not put off by opinion polls favouring Labour.

"We are ready for an election whenever it comes," he said.

Michael Ancram
Michael Ancram: Tories are ready
"We fought the European elections two years ago much further behind in the opinion polls than we are today and we won those elections, so we know we can win," Mr Hague added.

"I told party members yesterday not to be intimidated by opinion polls."

Push for victory

His message was echoed by other leading Conservatives who insisted that victory was there for the taking if they could sell their message of an efficient, low-tax government committed to keeping Britain out of Europe's single currency.

"I read the left-wing commentators who mock us and I have nothing but scorn for them. I hear the faint hearts who write us off and I have nothing but disdain for them," party chairman Michael Ancram told a Conservative forum.

"I see the opinion polls and they only make me more determined yet, because we have come here with one purpose, and that is to win."

Tory Shadow Chancellor Michael Portillo said he would match any tax cuts announced by Gordon Brown in next week's Budget.

He pledged to maintain any Labour cuts on top of 8bn savings already promised by the Tories.

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02 Mar 01 | UK Politics
Uphill struggle for Hague
07 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Hague wants euro election campaign
18 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Tories on election alert
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