Wednesday, October 6, 1999 Published at 08:06 GMT 09:06 UK
Portillo 'not honest' about gay past
Michael Portillo is hoping for a swift return to Westminster
Former Cabinet minister Michael Portillo has further marked his return to frontline politics with his first public speech since announcing his hope to become the next MP for Kensington and Chelsea.
But he has come in for criticism from fellow former Tory minister Lord Tebbit who has accused Mr Portillo of not being totally honest over the revelations.
Lord Tebbit told the BBC: "He owned up to a homosexual phase when he was not much more than a schoolboy and I am told that sort of thing is not uncommon amongst schoolboys.
"The truth of the matter is something different. What worries me about that is that he was not completely honest."
He also said that in his opinion the revelations had damaged Mr Portillo.
"I think it has damaged him. You see, it leaves us wondering now what sort of man Portillo is.
"Some of us were worried anyway by the fact that after the general election he seemed to change from being the hard-right, tough macho secretary of state for defence wearing the SAS badge, almost, to the soft-focus guy we saw subsequently."
Mr Portillo's speech itself was low key and confined to education.
The intention was to minimise its potential interpretation as a leadership challenge to Tory leader William Hague.
He also warned that if children missed out on education, they not only missed out on job opportunities but also on "enjoyment and self-fulfilment".
"There is much more to life than making money and collecting consumer durables," he said.
"There is the whole world of imagination. People need to be able to dream. Education is part of learning to be a human being."
"Our last government did not exhaust the limits of privatisation or of partnerships between the private and public sectors. Not at all.
"There is no reason why private enterprise shouldn't provide educational and school services to the state-maintained education system, under contract to the taxpayer."
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