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Thursday, December 31, 1998 Published at 06:01 GMT

UK Politics

Hague rallies his troops

William Hague: An exciting time to be Conservative

Conservative leader William Hague has promised a complete overhaul of his party's policies, to create what he called a "fresh, positive and compassionate agenda for the 21st Century".

In his New Year Message, Mr Hague said ordinary party members, MPs and outside experts would work together to identify problems and prepare policy papers.

"It is an exciting time to be a Conservative. We are leading a great Conservative revival," he told party chairmen.

Election drive

The party would use the results of last year's Listening to Britain public consultation exercise to inform its policies.

But Mr Hague made clear his party would not let up on its attacks on the government and their "poodles" - the Liberal Democrats.

The Tories would use Campaign '99 - their election drive for seats in local councils, the European Parliament, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly - to highlight Labour's failings.

Golden legacy

"I want us to use our Campaign '99 to make sure this Labour government is held to account for policies that are slowing our economy, undermining our public services, lowering standards in public life, fracturing our United Kingdom, gerrymandering our constitution and going with the flow of European integration," he said.

"Since last summer we have notched up some notable victories. We have held Labour to account for the damage they are doing to the golden economic legacy they inherited from the last Conservative government.

"We have stopped in their tracks the plans for proportional representation at Westminster.

"We have exposed the government's total failure to reform welfare, or cut NHS waiting lists or improve our schools.

"And we have made sure that the Liberals, as Labour's poodles, do not escape responsibility for unpopular government decisions."

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