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Monday, 16 October, 2000, 10:08 GMT 11:08 UK
Hague to begin election campaign
William Hague, Conservative Party leader
William Hague will set a course for the general election
Tory leader William Hague was expected to launch his party's general election campaign in Wales with a commitment to inclusive "one nation" politics.

Mr Hague is due to speak at the Society of Editors conference in Cardiff on Monday at the start of a non-stop tour of the UK, building up to a spring election.

"We are not going to stay in London waiting for the day the prime minister decides to call the election," Mr Hague was due to tell his audience of editors.

"Instead we are going to take the election campaign to him.

I do not accept the stale and artificial distinction between so-called soft issues and hard issues

William Hague, Conservative leader
He is expected to promise "the most energetic, enthusiastic, widely travelled campaign in living memory".

On Monday, Mr Hague was expected to add further details to the party's message of an inclusive, one nation Britain, a theme he intends to develop on his tour of the UK.

Mr Hague is set to raise time and again issues such as health, pensions, education, drug abuse and inner city deprivation, which Labour traditionally draws on as its strengths.

"When you saw us discussing these issues at our party conference 10 days ago, that was no one-week wonder," the conference of editors is due to be told.

Ann Widdecombe, shadow home secretary
Ann Widdecombe: Drugs' views 'zero credibility'
He will insist these social issues and the traditional tough Tory approaches on taxes, Europe and crime are "two sides of the same coin".

"I do not accept the stale and artificial distinction between so-called soft issues and hard issues," he will say.

Mr Hague will also claim his party is more in touch with the "instincts and common sense of the British people" than ministers.

"For while they increasingly retreat into their Whitehall bunkers, we are consciously leaving behind the Westminster beltway to take our message to the wider country."

'Zero credibility'

By contrast Mr Hague will pledge: "The only regular fixed day in my Westminster diary will be Wednesdays, 3pm, Prime Minister's Questions."

Despite Mr Hague's pledge that the commitment to one nation policies was not short-term, Ian McCartney, Labour's campaign co-ordinator, questioned how long it would last.

"Will the real William Hague please stand up?" he said.

"His last bandwagon hit the buffers at the Conservative conference when Ann Widdecombe dragged Mr Hague from zero tolerance to zero credibility in the space of a couple of days."

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See also:

09 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Darling attacks Tory "compassion"
09 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Hague dumps Widdecombe drugs plan
05 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Tories plan to end red tape
10 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Boost for inner cities
08 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Tory admission sparks dope debate
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