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Party chairman Michael Ancram
"I've spent the last three years as Chairman proving opinion polls wrong"
 real 56k

Shadow Social Security Secretary, David Willetts
"The new integrated child credit could cost 1bn...It's the latest black hole in his spending plans"
 real 56k

Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 13:03 GMT 14:03 UK
Polls wrong, say Tories
The Tories' morning news conference on Thursday
The Tories' morning news conference on Thursday
The Conservatives have insisted there is a mood swing towards them among voters, despite their poor showing in the polls.

Party chairman Michael Ancram said reports from constituencies showed that many voters backed the Tories.


I watched a bit of that. Ffion watched more of it than I did. She was a bit of a fan

William Hague on the ITV series Popstars
With the opinion polls suggesting that the party is heading for an electoral disaster on 7 June, Mr Ancram dismissed the findings.

Later leader William Hague tried to show he was in touch with the youth vote as he confidently answered questions on pop music, Harry Potter and the latest toy craze.

Mr Ancram told the Tories' morning news conference on Thursday: "The reports I am getting back from the constituencies show a very different picture."

Eat my hat

"I am going to trust my nose and I'm asking other people to trust their noses and get people out to vote Conservative."

He said that the polls, including the exit poll conducted as people left voting stations, had been wrong for the 1999 European elections, in which the Tories eventually won more seats than Labour in the UK.

"I have spent the last three years as chairman of the party proving opinion polls wrong and I intend to go on doing that," said Mr Ancram.

Asked whether he would eat his hat if the polls proved right, shadow chancellor Michael Portillo drew laughter from the assembled journalists when he said: "I don't have a hat because it would cover up one of my best features."

The Tories also challenged Gordon Brown to pledge that he would not means test child benefit.

Motive

Shadow social security secretary David Willetts told the news conference that the chancellor planned to introduce big changes to child support in 2003.

He said Mr Brown would use the integrated child credit system as an "opportunity finally to do what he has long wanted."

Mr Willetts said the chancellor had opportunities, methods and a motive.

He said: "The new integrated child credit could cost 1bn. It is not in his spending plans at the moment, he needs the money to finance it.

"It's the latest black hole in his spending plans, he needs to raise the money and his first instinct is always to tax hard-working families."

Labour has dismissed this line of attack as a "Tory smear".

Chancellor Gordon Brown said it was also a "spectacular own goal" by the Tories because it would allow Labour to demonstrate how much it had done for families over the past four years.

Pied Piper

Quizzed by teenage reporters from BBC1's Newsround, Mr Hague immediately identified Pied Piper's garage hit Do You Really Like It? as the current number one, but declined to sing it.

After a moment's hesitation he identified a muggle as "a non-wizard person from Harry Potter".

And, given the choice between Pokemon and Microstars, he immediately opted for the new playground favourite - collectible figures of footballers - over the dated Japanese pocket-monster cards.

When Newsround's Siobhan Davis, 14, and Meera Saujani, 13, tried to catch Mr Hague out by asking him who won the TV contest Popstars, he replied quick as a flash with Hear'Say's name.

He added: "I watched a bit of that. Ffion watched more of it than I did. She was a bit of a fan."

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