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Tuesday, November 2, 1999 Published at 22:24 GMT

UK Politics

Time to back the underdog - Lilley

Peter Lilley: The Tories are not the party of greed

The former deputy leader of the Conservative Party Peter Lilley is calling on fellow Tories to make their party the supporter of the underdog.

Renewing the values of 'caring Conservatism' Mr Lilley says is the only way the party can combat the "caricature" representation of Tories which depicts them as the party of greed.

Mr Lillley was sacked as deputy leader by William Hague in the July shadow cabinet re-shuffle, after a speech in which Mr Lilley provoked heated debate in Tory ranks over the legacy of Thatcherism.

Tory values questioned

Speaking to the Westminster Ethical Policy Forum he said: "Because our policies during the eighties were recognised as being successful overall, our opponents made little headway in attacking them so they increasingly attacked our motives and our values.

"They depicted us as greedy and selfish. We did little to repudiate this caricature, which became almost unchallenged in the media."

The former cabinet minister continued saying: "That had little effect while people feared Labour more, than they disliked this ugly picture of Conservatives.

"However, once Labour allayed fears about itself, that accumulated dislike of us mattered a great deal - as we found on May 1, 1997."

Concern for the family

He called on his party to lead the next wave of social reform: "Now we must do so and reaffirm our commitment to the Conservative tradition of concern for the underdog and the ordinary family."

But Mr Lilley made it plain he did not see state intervention as the answer to society's ills and claimed that the left's inability to acknowledge the problems created by state monopolies left the Tories well placed to create the solutions needed in the future.

"The reforms needed today will not involve an endless expansion in public expenditure and the role of the state. Far from it.

"Many of the problems of modern society arise from the failures of state monopoly. We have to humanise the welfare state. We must tackle the restrictions it puts on people's lives and choices," he said.

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