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BBC Scotland Political Editor Brian Taylor
"The Tory party are denying that their leader was forced to cut short his visit"
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Friday, 19 May, 2000, 18:27 GMT 19:27 UK
Protesters pursue Hague
William Hague, Keep the Puund campaign
Mr Hague says voters will support the policy
Conservative leader William Hague has been chased by demonstrators during a walkabout in Edinburgh as he promoted his Keep the Pound campaign.

About 20 protesters pursued Mr Hague, some chanting against his party's asylum policy, others for the disbandment of the RUC.

Party officials denied that he was forced to cut short his visit. They said he completed all his plans before departing by train.

Earlier, Mr Hague's presence drew an angry response the convener of the "Scots Asians for Independence" group, who condemned his "skinhead" asylum and immigration policies.

Bashir Ahmed said: "Under the leadership of William Hague, the Tory Party has shifted drastically to the right.

'Inclusive politics'

"We are trying to develop a better, more open and inclusive kind of politics in Scotland with our parliament, where we all feel part of the same society.

"Asians have visa applications to attend family events in the UK turned down, and now William Hague wants to lock up asylum seekers - the vast majority of whom are decent, law-abiding people, who find themselves destitute through no fault of their own.

"It is to the shame of Malcolm Rifkind that he is prepared to be William Hague's standard bearer in Scotland, and defend Mr Hague's indefensible 'skinhead' politics."

Scottish banknotes
Scotland has distinctive banknotes
On sterling, Mr Hague confidently predicted a surge of support in Scotland because of the Keep the Pound campaign.

He insisted: "The clear majority of Scots want to keep the pound and reject Tony Blair's attempts to bounce them into the Euro.

"They do not want to see their distinctive Scottish banknotes scrapped and replaced by bland European images.

"They are rightly concerned that economic and monetary union might transfer more power to Brussels and Frankfurt than the whole devolution process gave to Edinburgh.

'Out of touch'

"To coin a phrase, it is the settled will of the Scottish people to keep their currency.

"Yet, as on so many other issues, the Lib-Lab Scottish Executive and the Labour Government in London are out of tune and out of touch with what Scots think and want.

"Only the Scottish Conservatives will offer the people of Scotland what most of them want on this issue at the next election.

"We confidently expect this will be one of the policies that will see Scottish Conservative MPs returned when that day comes," said Mr Hague.

Mr Hague's roadshow - the centrepiece of which is a seven-tonne truck - began in February and targets city centres.

His visit to Scotland came a week after former Foreign Secretary, Sir Malcolm Rifkind, was given the job of leading the Tories' general election campaign in Scotland.

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