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Thursday, September 30, 1999 Published at 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK

UK Politics

Tories accuse Labour of 'class envy'

The Blairs: Is it really farewell to the "class war"?

The Conservatives have accused Labour of "class envy" after party activists booed music pupils from a private school at a conference fringe meeting in Bournemouth.

Tory Party chairman Michael Ancram is demanding an apology from Tony Blair following the "despicable" incident hours before the Prime Minister declared the end of the "class war" in his conference speech.

The pupils from Talbot Heath School, Bournemouth, aged 14 to 16, had played jazz to a gathering attended by Culture Secretary Chris Smith, aimed at highlighting social exclusion, on Monday night.

Delegates at the meeting booed when the name of the school was announced and it emerged it was in the independent sector.

[ image: Ancram:
Ancram: "A display of mean-minded socialism"
Richard Robinson, Deputy Head of Talbot Heath, said: "They were applauded for their playing and Bournemouth got a cheer, but when they said they were from a private school there was a boo.

"The girls were surprised and a little disappointed - it's not the normal reaction."

'Schoolyard bully'

But Mr Robinson said the pupils had been "philosophical about it".

Mr Ancram said it was "a display of mean-minded socialism at its very worst."

He said: "It is the mentality of the schoolyard bully.

"It is a disgrace that Tony Blair allows his party members to vent their class envy on 14-year-old schoolgirls.

"After his disgraceful conference speech, does he think this is acceptable behaviour in his new moral society?"

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