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Leader of the Opposition William Haigue
"John Major is warning the party against something it is not doing"
 real 28k

John Piennar, Political Correspondent
"Mr Hague says, we must show courage in opposition"
 real 28k

The BBC's Sarah Nelson
"Poor William Haigue - he just can't win"
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Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 07:29 GMT
Major attacks Tory right

John Major John Major: Some Tory MPs have not learnt lessons

Former prime minister John Major has launched a scathing attack on the Tory party - as leader William Hague delivered the party's New Year message.

It is sad to see a handful of Tory MPs have not learnt the lesson
John Major
Writing in The Spectator magazine, the former premier criticised Conservative MPs who advocate a move further to the right and urged Mr Hague to mobilise the left and centre of the party in order to win the next general election.

"It was suicidal and it is sad to see a handful of Tory MPs have not learnt the lesson and still argue for more partisan right-wing policies," he wrote.

"`We're not Conservative enough', they bleat. Rubbish. That ways lies ruin. It is enough to make a saint despair, but William must not."

'No votes in yesterday'

He said Mr Hague should look forward not back, and should not be bound by the policies of his predecessors.

"There are no votes in yesterday and many to be lost if the Ghost of Government Past appears to lead the party by the nose," he said.

He added that "harking back to the eighties" at October's party conference might have appealed to the activists but did not encourage the undecided voter.

"William should travel a pragmatic, tolerant Tory route and he will find he has more allies than anyone supposes. Pragmatism is not a dirty word - it is good, old-fashioned Tory virtue."

Clarke outburst

Mr Major's intervention comes just after a similar outburst by former chancellor Kenneth Clarke, who complained that Mr Hague's leadership was making the party virtually unelectable.

Ken Clarke Kenneth Clarke: Tories in danger of becoming unelectable
He accused Mr Hague of surrounding himself with a group of "way out young idealogues" who had moved the party too far to the right.

In his New Year message to the party, Mr Hague urged grassroots activists not to become "downhearted" and insisted that they had the right policies to return the Tories to power.

He said the policies set out in the party's Common Sense Revolution - including cutting the tax burden and keeping the pound - were winning support and would provide the basis of a programme for government.

Mr Hague's address - and the remarks by Mr Major - come after a dismal run of poor publicity for the Tories.

The end of 1999 has seen the withdrawal in disgrace of Lord Archer from the London mayoral contest, a public row over the candidacy of his rival Steven Norris and the defection to Labour of former frontbench spokesman Shaun Woodward.

The party has also suffered the revival of sleaze allegations with the Neil Hamilton libel trial and controversy over party treasurer Michael Ashcroft.

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See also:
30 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Hague looks to 'great election battle'
28 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Clarke savages Hague's leadership
29 Dec 99 |  UK Politics
Tories rebuke Clarke over comments
05 Oct 99 |  UK Politics
Major attacks 'warrior' Thatcher

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