Friday, August 13, 1999 Published at 09:14 GMT 10:14 UK
Cover blown on 'Project Hague'
The Hagues cool down at the 1997 Notting Hill Carnival
Leaked plans to boost William Hague's public image through a series of photo opportunities have been met with derision by his political foes.
The leaked memo outlining "Project Hague" reveals proposals to depict the Tory leader as a man firmly grounded in his Yorkshire roots, with close ties to his family and a liking for judo and abseiling.
Lib Dem campaigns chief Nick Harvey said: "The Tories are trying to relaunch a sinking ship."
The memo - said to be the brainchild of the new Tory publicity adviser Amanda Platell - includes plans for:
On another occasion the Tory leader wore a baseball cap on a trip to a theme park in an attempt to project a more youthful, down-to-earth image.
'Tories in for a shock'
But Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott said: "The news that William Hague's image is to be relaunched yet again by his wife and his chief spin doctor would be funny if it wasn't so serious.
"The problem for the Tories is not one of image, it's one of substance. It's not William Hague that's unpopular, it's Conservative policies.
Mr Harvey added: "All the baseball caps in the world can't hide the fact that William Hague's Tory Party is divided and out of touch with the British people."
Clifford cautions Hague
Publicity guru Max Clifford, himself a Labour supporter, warned Mr Hague against trying to rebrand himself and advised him to try and concentrate on "a long-term project to give him stature".
"The public does not like the approach of creating an image," he said.
"Giving him stature is a long-term project.
"Anything he does will become a fabrication. It's like the Queen having tea in Glasgow - everyone knows the Royal Family is trying to change its image."
Mr Clifford suggested Mr Hague align himself with a popular campaign such as the drive to erect a statue to the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
The Tory leader should also praise Tony Blair sometimes, Mr Clifford said.
"He comes across as the head prefect, never the headmaster. He should try to be more gracious and congratulate Blair when he gets things right."
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