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Kenneth Clarke
"The party has not yet found its way in opposition"
 real 28k

Francis Maude
"He's not actually reflecting a belief in the party at all"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 29 December, 1999, 14:38 GMT
Tories rebuke Clarke over comments

Mr Clarke is a victim of the "big tent" said Lord Tebbit

Shadow chancellor Francis Maude has attacked Ken Clarke's comments about William Hague's leadership of the Tories as not being reflective of the party as a whole.

Mr Maude dismissed Mr Clarke's remarks as "absurd", hours after an earlier attack on the former chancellor by Lord Tebbit.

Francis Maude: "Bored with being lectured"
On Tuesday, Mr Clarke accused Mr Hague of surrounding himself with a group of "way out young ideologues" who had moved the party too far to the right.

He said the party still had a long way to go to win back voters and likened the last months of 1999 for the Tories to the dying years of John Major's government, characterised by repeated "unexpected accidents".

But Mr Maude told the BBC: "Some of us are getting a bit bored with being lectured by those who were at the head of the party when it went to its worst electoral defeat this century."

Mr Maude said he did not believe Mr Clarke's views were reflective of the Conservative Party as a whole.

"He's not actually reflecting a belief in the party at all, nor in the public.

Lord Tebbit: Mr Clarke would make Tories minority party
"It is an absurd proposition that the party has lurched to the right," he said.

Mr Maude said: "What we are doing is precisely what he says we ought to be doing, which is giving ourselves a clear identity and working out our view on the big issues of the day.

"The idea that there is a mad obsession with Europe, when actually what we have is a commitment to keeping the pound, seems to me a very weird view indeed."

Attempting to draw a line under the row, he added: "I don't regard this as a squabble, I regard this as setting out what we believe in and refusing to be diverted from that."

Earlier, Lord Tebbit accused Mr Clarke of coming under the influence of New Labour.

He said the former chancellor wanted to push the Tories down an "absolutely crazy" left-wing and pro-Europe route, which would leave it as a minority party forever.

Lord Tebbit said: "I think he has become a victim of the No 10 big tent, that he has been sucked in."

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See also:
28 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Clarke savages Hague's leadership

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