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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 January, 2004, 11:19 GMT
Tory leader defends beliefs list
Michael Howard
Mr Howard said the beliefs had propelled him into politics
Conservative leader Michael Howard has told the BBC why he published his list of core political beliefs.

He said he wanted to dispel the idea politicians were obsessed with being negative about their opponents.

Mr Howard said many people were uncertain about the difference between the parties.

And he said his beliefs were "entirely in tune with Conservative principles and with what most of the British people want".

Personal statement

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Howard denied copying those 15 "beliefs" from a 1941 personal declaration by John D Rockefeller.

The Guardian and the Mirror had claimed the Conservative leader stole his statement published in Friday's Times from a personal declaration by the American philanthropist.

The Daily Telegraph meanwhile had criticised Mr Howard's grammar in the statement which will now be sent to 100,000 Tory party members.

The Conservative leader said: "I am afraid the responsibility for what we put out yesterday, grammatical errors and all, is entirely mine."

Among the "beliefs" he cited were that it was natural for people to want wealth, health and happiness, that people need protecting from bureaucracy and that parents want a better education for their children than the one they had.

On Today Mr Howard was asked to explain his statement that one person's ignorance was not caused by another's education.

Mr Howard replied: "We should not be worried by the fact that as people move towards higher standards this will not happen at the same pace everywhere and for everyone."

Tuition fees

He also said he had "grave reservations" about university tuition fees.

"I believe they would deter people from less well off families from going to university".

He said his party was reviewing its stance on the subject and would put the proposals to the public in a manifesto.

Mr Howard was also asked about Today's listeners' poll which asked people to vote for ideas for new legislation.

The poll results suggested many would like to see legislation giving householders greater rights to defend themselves against intruders.

Mr Howard said: "I think there is a widespread view that the present law is unsatisfactory and that it should be looked at to see to what extent there is scope for review here."

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said Mr Howard should be judged by his record and not his dreams.

The BBC's Reeta Chakrabarti
"Michael Howard said he wanted to do something more positive than just attacking Labour"

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