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Ivan Massow
"It's not a party I want to be a part of any more"
 real 56k

The BBC's June Kelly
"Labour swiftly organised a photocall"
 real 56k

Steven Norris MP, Conservative
"We are recruiting more people from Labour than we lose to them"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 17:04 GMT 18:04 UK
Tory adviser defects to Labour

Labour's Mo Mowlam and Ivan Massow face the press
A prominent Conservative and friend of William Hague has left the party and defected to Labour.

Gay millionaire businessman Ivan Massow had been a contender to become the Tory candidate for mayor of London.

In a strong personal attack on Mr Hague in The Independent newspaper, he said the Tory leader had shown himself to be prejudiced and ignorant.

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

Ivan Massow
Cabinet Office Minister Mo Mowlam welcomed Mr Massow to Labour, saying she could not understand why he had not been in the party in the first place.

Tory party vice-chairman Steven Norris brushed off the defection, saying "we welcome members to the party every day and we lose them every day".

Key adviser?

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

But Mr Norris denied claims that he was his key aide, saying: "This whole idea that Ivan is a desperately close adviser is not something that I recognise."

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

'Less compassionate'

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," he said.

Later, he told the BBC: "I just don't believe the Conservative Party is capable of governing one of the most diverse and interesting countries in the world and if they are elected I don't want anything to do with it."

Responding to the news of Mr Massow's defection, the first openly gay prospective parliamentary candidate chosen by the party, David Gold, voiced his disappointment.

Mr Gold said he had hoped that the millionaire would stay in the party and fight from within for "equality and inclusiveness".

Hague's 'cynicism'

Mr Massow dismissed Mr Hague's speech on the importance of "Compassionate Conservatism" to the US Republican convention in Philadelphia on Tuesday as a "cynical use of words without meaning".

A major blow for William Hague

Like the last Tory defector Shaun Woodward, Mr Massow attacked Mr Hague's approach to Section 28, the clause banning local authority 'promotion' of homosexuality.

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

"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."

'Base values

He told The Independent 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.

Alan Milburn, Health Secretary
Milburn: Welcomed Massow to Labour
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.

Asked later why he had taken so long to defect, he admitted: "Probably out of weakness, I was building a career with the Conservative Party, I was on the candidates' list and it is a lot to give up."

The Tory party denies that Mr Massow was due to be one of their candidates at the next election.

Labour glee

Labour ministers welcomed the defection.

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."

Scottish Secretary John Reid said it was a "devastating blow" for the Conservatives.

But Stephen Norris said he was not so sure that Labour would welcome their new recruit once they knew what he stood for.

"Here is a chap who also is a Master of Foxhounds - I wonder how that is going to play with some of his friends in the Labour Party," he said.

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See also:

02 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Tory defector targets Hague
02 Aug 00 | UK Politics
A trio of defections
02 Aug 00 | UK
Ivan Massow: Gay abandon
02 Aug 00 | UK
Compassion v conservatism
01 Aug 00 | UK Politics
Hague praises Bush
25 Jul 00 | UK Politics
Ministers back down on gay ban
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
26 Jan 00 | Talking Point
Section 28 - should it be repealed?
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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