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Conservative leader William Hague
outlines his party's family tax plans
 real 56k

The BBC's Tim Finch
"Lady Thatcher can still bring out the crowds"
 real 56k

Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
All is not lost - Thatcher
Lady Thatcher mobbed by crowds in Northampton
Lady Thatcher was mobbed by crowds in Northampton
Former Conservative Prime Minister Lady Thatcher has said "all is not lost" for her party - in spite of consistently poor opinion poll ratings.

Lady Thatcher, campaigning in Northampton, was asked her opinion about the prospects of a Tory victory on 7 June.


He's a fighter

Lady Thatcher on William Hague

She said she thought the party's ratings would go up as the campaign progressed.

"All is not lost - all is never lost," she said.

During a walkabout she was mobbed by large crowds.

And she proved that she could still provoke strong reactions.

Some well-wishers presented her with flowers.

Others were less welcoming - with one voter telling Lady Thatcher that he hoped her party would never gain power again.

As she was leaving, Lady Thatcher said she welcomed hitting the campaign trail despite the crush.

Praise for Hague

"It's terrific - all part of the election," she said.

Asked about William Hague's handling of the election campaign, she replied: "He's a fighter."


It's the poorest families who have been hit hardest

William Hague
Her visit came as Mr Hague moved to put tax back at the top of his campaign agenda - pitching his party's proposals at young families.

At the Tory morning news conference in central London, Mr Hague said that under Labour taxes had gone up by 28bn.

He insisted that tax was one of the central issues in the election and that his policies would benefit hard-working families on a tight budget, people reliant on their cars and those who saved.

"Over the last four years, Britain's hard-pressed families have borne the brunt of Labour's stealth taxes," he said.

'Stealth taxes'

"Gordon Brown has introduced 45 new stealth taxes during the course of this parliament.

"Taxes in total are up by 28bn since 1997, the equivalent of a 10p increase in the basic rate of income tax - and it's the poorest families who have been hit hardest.

"Taxes on marriage, taxes for driving, taxes for wanting to own your own home, taxes for putting a little money aside, even taxes for growing old."

He went on to outline what he said would be 8bn of tax cuts under a Tory government that would help savers, pensioners, families and car drivers.

'Come clean'

But Treasury Chief Secretary Andrew Smith said the Tories should come clean about how far they would go with tax cuts.

He said their cuts would hit health and education.

"The Tories' figures are unravelling.

William Hague
William Hague: Aiming to help families
"They must now come clean with the British people as to exactly which hospitals and which schools will be closed to meet their 20bn of spending cuts."

Later Mr Hague made an appearance in Kingston-upon-Thames where he made a tub-thumping campaign speech.

To cheers and some heckling he said that joining the euro would mean that many UK taxes would be harmonised with the rest of Europe.

And he said that European Commission president Romano Prodi was "giving a speech about now in France saying he wants to bring in an entirely new tax which would be a European Union-wide tax that everybody would have to pay across the European Union in order to fund the European Union itself."

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