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Monday, 31 July, 2000, 17:26 GMT 18:26 UK
Hague attacks left-wing 'fraud'
William Hague
William Hague praised Governor George W Bush
Conservative leader William Hague has launched an attack on the parties of the left, accusing them of defrauding the public.

He also claimed centre-right parties had become complacent and had failed to spot left-wing parties reinventing themselves.

It has been electorally potent but it has been a fraud

William Hague
Mr Hague was speaking at the beginning of the Republican Party Convention in Philadelphia, USA, where Governor George W Bush was expected to be endorsed as the party's presidential candidate.

The Conservative leader said that while parties of the centre-right had exposed the bankruptcy of socialism, too many had lost battles in their own backyards.

The speech was seen as a clear attack on the Labour Party and the US Democrats, although he did not mention Tony Blair or Bill Clinton by name.

'Repackaging' condemned

"Perhaps because our victory over the old left was so complete, we allowed ourselves to become complacent," he told delegates.

"We were slow to see that the left was re-inventing itself. They disowned their roots, repackaged themselves and chose new political leaders.

"They made a systematic attempt to occupy the centre-ground of politics by imitating our language, adopting our issues and pretending to be parties of the right.

"Our Republican Party hosts know all too well who pioneered this."

Mr Hague said the left had been "electorally potent but it has been a fraud".

Praise for Bush

He also praised Governor Bush for "making compassion part of the conservative lexicon in the United States", claiming it was the policies of the right which delivered a more compassionate and fair society.

"Here in Philadelphia this week they will call it 'Compassionate Conservatism'. In Britain we call it the Common Sense Revolution."

The Conservatives launched their "Common Sense Revolution", a package of new policies, at last October's party conference.

The opposition leader said the fortunes of the Conservative Party were on the up following their "massive election defeat" in 1997.

"We are achieving this revival not by aping our political opponents, not by repackaging ourselves like some brand of soap powder.

"We have done it by setting out our own distinctive Conservative, popular and policy-driven agenda of our own - an agenda that is in tune with the Common Sense Revolution," he said.

On the Republicans Party's choice, he said: "It is not for me to tell the voters of America how to vote, but let me say this: George W Bush is an impressive man with a proud record. We wish him well."

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