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Last Updated: Monday, 2 May, 2005, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Tories unveil timetable of action
Michael Howard with supporters at the Urbis centre
Mr Howard says he is very, very confident
Conservative leader Michael Howard has revealed the timetable for the party's eight priority tasks.

If the Tories win, they say they will do away with police paperwork, boost the role of matrons, improve border security and give power to headmasters.

The other tasks include council tax discounts for pensioners, changes to stamp duty, scrapping tuition fees and creating a new border police force.

Labour and the Lib Dems have attacked the Tories' campaigning as negative.

At a rally at ExCel in London's docklands, Mr Howard said that by 9 May, a Tory government would have started to do away with a form that police officers have to fill in when they stop someone on the street.

Deadlines for Tory priorities
9 May: End requirement for police to fill out a form when they stop someone
6 June: Matrons to be responsible for cleaner hospitals
1 Dec: Heads to get final say on expulsions
1 April 2006: Discount of 500 for pensioners' new council tax bills
6 April 2006: 24-hour border surveillance covering 35 ports of entry
6 April 2006: Stamp duty abolished on houses up to 250,000
1 Sep 2006: Scrapping university tuition fees
31 Dec 2006: UK border control police to tackle illegal immigration

He went on to give deadlines for seven other pledges on education, health, border controls, council tax and stamp duty.

At the same rally, Mr Howard again stressed the importance of action.

"It is not about talking it is about doing," he said.

"People have had enough of spin and smirk - they just want someone who'll make things work.

"It's no use being a man of destiny if you can't be bothered with the details. People don't want a date with destiny. Most just want a date with the dentist."

Tory co-chairman Liam Fox restated the Tories pledge to reducing tax, saying they were a "genuine tax-cutting party... cutting taxes across the generations".

Tory candidate and newspaper commentator Michael Gove lambasted the Lib Dems, saying: "Anyone who's ever fought the Liberal Democrats will know they're the trickiest, dirtiest, most-deceitful outfit in British politics."

The Lib Dems said the Tories' attacks on them were a "sign of desperation".

Mr Howard earlier accused Tony Blair of lacking a positive message in the election campaign.

I thought it was a wonderful compliment
Michael Howard on being compared with Ken Barlow

He told an earlier rally the prime minister's only interest was in stopping the Tories and clinging to office.

Mr Howard, who was joined at the Manchester event by Coronation Street star Bill Roache, called on the electorate to "vote for action".

The Tory leader said he was "very, very confident" and not concerned by how the party was faring in the polls.

He said: "Mr Blair's positive message for the future is... don't let the Tories in. That's it.

"That's the limit of his vision. All he wants to do is to cling onto office." Mr Howard was introduced at the rally by Mr Roache, who plays Ken Barlow.

'Compliment'

He recalled that a focus group had been asked which soap opera character most resembled the party leaders and he was compared with Ken Barlow.

Mr Howard said: "I think they thought it wasn't as fulsome a compliment as I took it as. I thought it was a wonderful compliment."

Tory deputy home affairs spokesman Dominic Grieve told BBC News the party planned to change the way the streets were patrolled, with police and community support officers not pounding the beat alone.

He said: "We'd envisage breaking wards and areas down into small units, a police office would open in the area.

"You'd probably have a sergeant and six to eight men working that area. Not the individual beat bobby... it would be a revolutionary change in the way this country is policed."





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