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The BBC's June Kelly
"Ivan Massow's profile has risen over the last year"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 04:05 GMT 05:05 UK
Top Tory adviser defects to Labour
William Hague, Conservative Party leader
Hague: "Leading an intolerant party"
A prominent Conservative and friend of William Hague has left the party and defected to Labour.

Millionaire gay businessman Ivan Massow was on the Conservative candidates list for the next election and had been a contender for mayor of London.

In a strong personal attack on Mr Hague in The Independent newspaper, he said the Tories had become less compassionate, more intolerant and just plain nasty.


The sad truth is that the Tories have become less compassionate, more intolerant and frankly just plain nasty

Ivan Massow
A spokesman for the Conservatives thanked Mr Massow for his "significant contribution" and said the party was sorry he had decided to leave, abandoning the beliefs and principles which he had apparently supported in recent years.

After failing in his bid to become Tory London mayoral candidate, Mr Massow threw his support behind Steven Norris, becoming his principle policy adviser.

Now chairman of the Institute for Contemporary Arts, he joined the Conservative Party aged 14 and was regarded as being on the socially liberal wing of the party.

In his resignation statement, he said he felt there was a lack of tolerance and inclusivity in the Tory Party and as a gay man he could not continue to be a member.

"Under William the sad truth is that the Tories have become less compassionate, more intolerant and frankly just plain nasty."

Blow

Mr Massow's defection will be seen as a blow to Mr Hague, who addressed the US Republican convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday on the importance of "Compassionate Conservatism".

Mr Massow dismissed the speech as a "cynical use of words without meaning".

Ivan Massow
Ivan Massow: Friend of William Hague's
He said the recent rhetoric over Section 28 had left him feeling he was no longer welcome in the Party.

"Last week Section 28 reared its ugly head once more to be greeted with even more venomous and retrospective language in the Lords.

"This was followed by Prime Minister's Questions, where William Hague stood up blatantly for prejudice and ignorance. I watched as Tony Blair spoke bravely of tolerance and condemned that prejudice for what it was."

He told The Independent: "The very things that led the electorate to reject them at the last election have been compounded since,"

He said Mr Hague had surrendered his principles to the lowest common denominator, adding that Tory policies were only designed to "chime with the most base values and claw away at national insecurities".

He accused the party of "stirring up prejudice and fear" over asylum issues and other areas.

Mistake

He said it had been a mistake not to join Labour when Tony Blair became leader, saying that he did not do so because of uncertainty about Labour's ability to manage the economy.

Mr Massow said he no longer had any doubts.

Alan Milburn, Health Secretary
Milburn: Welcomed Massow to Labour
Health Secretary Alan Milburn said: "William Hague may feel that his mixture of good one liners and opportunism amounts to successful leadership, but what this shows is that even those close to him are rejecting his brand of Toryism."

In December last year former front bench spokesman and Witney MP, Shaun Woodward, shook the Conservative Party by defecting to Labour.

Mr Woodward had been sacked from his job as London spokesman after refusing to support Tory moves to repeal Section 28.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Robin Oakley's week in politics
25 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Ministers back down on gay ban
27 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Norris rewarded with Tory party role
26 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Gay ban must go: Blair
24 Jul 00 | UK
The Section 28 battle
25 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Section 28: An overview
25 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Blair move backfires again
26 Jan 00 | Talking Point
Section 28 - should it be repealed?
04 Dec 99 | UK Politics
Net millionaire's second mayoral bid
05 Dec 99 | UK Politics
Norris waits on mayoral challengers
03 Dec 99 | UK Politics
Tories split over gay rights sacking
01 Dec 99 | UK Politics
Gay Tory stays in mayor race
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