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William Hague, Tory leader
"My warning is about any Labour majority at all"
 real 56k

Sunday, 3 June, 2001, 16:21 GMT 17:21 UK
Hague: 'I can still win'
William Hague campaigning in Fulham
William Hague told supporters there was all to play for
William Hague has denied the Conservatives are conceding the election despite appealing to voters to "clip Labour's wings".

The call came on Sunday as the Tories prepared to unveil a new poster campaign urging the electorate to burst Tony Blair's "bubble".

Let us be very clear: this election is far from over

William Hague
Speculation has mounted that both moves show the party now thinks it can only dent Labour's majority on Thursday - but Mr Hague has robustly denied he has anything but victory in mind.

"Everybody is in a great mood, we are doing extremely well," he told BBC News as he was given an enthusiastic greeting by supporters at a campaign engagement in London on Sunday afternoon.

"We are talking about the bubble in which New Labour live.

"They talk about public services and yet the doctors, the teachers, the nurses, the police officers have never been so disillusioned.

"They are completely out of touch with that and the way to burst that bubble is to vote Conservative."

Lib Dems attacked

In a speech later, in which he accused the Liberal Democrats of being "a branch office of a discredited government", he attacked Labour's "arrogance, spin and smugness".

And he issued this appeal to voters: "If you are among the millions that want to clip Labour's wings, or sling them out altogether, you can only wipe the smile off their faces by voting Conservative."

Mr Hague, who earlier insisted he had enjoyed "every day" of the election campaign despite consistently bad poll ratings, also kept up warnings over the effect of a Labour landslide.

They would marginalise parliament, manipulate the media and seek to suppress all dissent in a "devastating blow to British democracy".

The strategy has attracted return fire from the Labour Party.

I enjoy politics and I have an important message to convey

William Hague
It is concerned to avoid the so-called Queensland effect, where the Australian state's opposition triggered a last-minute surge in support against the odds after apparently throwing in the towel and asking voters to limit the size of the government's majority.

Mr Blair warned the Tories planned to try and "sneak in through the back door".

But Mr Hague is also being careful to keep up fire on Labour policies and promote his own alternative programme of government.

He denied switching his party's campaigning away from Europe, which attracted criticism after he said the election was the last chance to keep the pound.

And he denied Labour's charge he wants to avoid debate on public services because he has nothing to say on the subject, saying if they wanted such an argument "well and good".

'I am responsible'

Earlier the Conservative leader told BBC1's Breakfast with Frost: "I've enjoyed every day of it [the campaign] so far and will continue to enjoy every day of it.

"I enjoy politics and I have an important message to convey - I'm fighting for what I believe in."

Mr Hague insisted the election would not be decided "until the votes are cast and indeed counted" - but he acknowledged that as party leader he would ultimately be responsible if the Tories lost.

"I am the leader of the party. I get the credit for its successes and the blame for its failures and I am very comfortable with that."


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