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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 19:10 GMT 20:10 UK
Howard rounds on Clinton
Double vision: Howard delivers his speech

Shadow Chancellor Michael Howard has turned his fire on former US president Bill Clinton, in an attempt to prove his commitment to "compassionate Conservatism".


We want a society where there is a helping hand for those who need it

Michael Howard
In a keynote speech at the Conservative conference in Bournemouth, Mr Howard said "for us, Bill, it's not just the economy, stupid".

He was referring to the former US president's mockery of "compassionate Conservatism" at last week's Labour conference.

In a wide-ranging speech, Mr Howard steered clear of traditional Tory subjects such as the euro and tax cuts, speaking instead of the need for "togetherness" and "a society where there is a helping hand for those that need it".

He said the Tories had to "appeal to the heart as well as the head".

But unlike most of his shadow cabinet colleagues, his speech contained no major policy announcements.

'Labour to blame'

Instead, Mr Howard launched a stinging attack on Chancellor Gordon Brown's reputation for economic competence.

He said Mr Brown had been quick to take the credit for a rising stock market but now that it is "850bn down from its peak", it was just an "international phenomenon".

He conceded stock markets had fallen around the world, but the UK's FTSE 100 index had lagged 20% behind the US Dow.

UK business was being strangled by red tape and tax, he argued.

And the country under Labour was in danger of "sleepwalking into decline".

'Hard won' success

He also attacked Mr Brown's record on public spending and Labour tax rises, which, he claimed, had cost every person in the UK nearly 40 a more every week".

But the only policy announcement was a plan to form a task force to attack business red tape.

And despite the vehemence of his attacks on Gordon Brown, passages of Mr Howard's speech would not have been out of place in a speech by a Labour chancellor.

Picking up the theme of "compassionate Conservatism" which has dominated the week in Bournemouth, Mr Howard admitted "many people had suffered hardship on the way" to the UK's economic prosperity.

The Tories, he argued, wanted to preserve this "hard won" economic success.

"We want a society in which everyone is able to fulfil their potential.

"We want a society where there is a helping hand for those who need it."

Clinton jibe

Quoting Archbishop Desmond Tutu, he said: "We are bound to one another. We can be human only together.

"We can be free only together. We can be safe only together. We can be prosperous only together."

He said he planned to send a copy of his speech to Bill Clinton, who thrilled the Labour conference in Blackpool, to demonstrate that "it's not just the economy, stupid".

He said the Tories "must stand for compassion as well as competition".

And he pledged to "work together" with teachers, doctors and nurses" and police officers to deliver better services.

 VOTE RESULTS
Conservative Conference: Can they reverse the decline?

Yes
 41.39% 

No
 58.61% 

2225 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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See also:

08 Oct 02 | Politics
08 Oct 02 | Politics

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