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Saturday, 9 June, 2001, 18:47 GMT 19:47 UK
Why did the Conservatives do so badly?

In the wake of the Conservatives' defeat the party must now reflect on why it did so badly at the polls.

William Hague had promised a Britain of lower taxes, safer streets, a better health service, and a tough stance on issues like the euro and bogus asylum seekers.

But with Labour leading in the polls from the outset, the Conservative's battle was always going to be an uphill one. Tony Blair's victory for a second time suggests that the Conservative vision of Britain has been rejected by the electorate.

Is it Conservative policies that voters don't like, or is it William Hague himself? Or are people just content with the way Labour has been running the country?

We will be discussing the implications of the UK election this Sunday in a special Talking Point phone-in programme broadcast on BBC World Service Radio and on BBC News Online at 1500 BST (1400 GMT). If you would like to take part, please include a telephone number with your comments where we may contact you.

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

He had hardly any good policies and the ones he did have were almost exactly the same as Mrs Thatcher

Leann, Shetland, UK
I believe that William Hague was right to resign. He had hardly any good policies and the ones he did have were almost exactly the same as Mrs Thatcher. He shouldn't have bought himself a wife to pose on, he should just be himself. No one wants to see him trying to be cool and posing with his wife. I also believe that he had no right being the Tory leader in the first place. Also I think that maybe the Tory Party should have done something about it before it got to the stage of him resigning. You all have to take the blame!
Leann, Shetland UK

I'm a committed Tory but feel William Hague simply has neither charisma nor the ability to put the case. His voice is just a drone.
Judith MacBeth, Reading Berks,England

A number of ultra-safe Tory seats (Richmond North Yorks, Vale of York, Devizes) saw significant swings to the sitting MPs. Did the Tory doorstep campaigners find the friendly reception they mentioned so often because they were putting undue effort into seats which were theirs in any case? These swings could also be the rural communities' reaction against the Government's Foot and Mouth policy.
Rev David Christie, North Yorkshire

Hague was never meant to be PM

James Freeman, Cambridge
William Hague was never meant to be PM - he did the job he was elected to do by preventing the same internal splits that ravaged Labour in the early 80s. Now they must move on and re-occupy the centre ground. But Hague should not jump ship yet - the next Tory PM is yet to emerge.
James Freeman, Cambridge, UK

They did badly because they are out of touch. Their ideas and philosophies fall well short of what the public expect in the 21st century. The only hope would be if they start listening to Ken Clarke et al (I hope they don't).
Mann, London UK

The Conservative Party is not a single party and therefore not a party at all. How can one vote for a so-called party whose members have so many different views, in particular concerning the European Community? Of course the same is true of New Labour to a lesser extent. Perhaps this marks the end of the two party system.
Brian Brown, St Germain en Laye, France

The Tories did so badly because they focused on issues that were not the priority of the electorate. Hague thought he could win on the Euro but the polls consistently showed this to be way down on the list of voters' concerns. He has paid the price for a very obvious miscalculation.
Angus Anderson, Aberdeen, Scotland

The idiocy of their Asylum Seekers policy would only have appealed to Attila The Hun

Vaughan Brant, London
I'd say that they have done so badly simply because their core constituency has been invaded by Labour. In order to produce some kind of distinction between themselves and Labour, the Conservatives have come up with policies that are increasingly on the fringe. The election had nothing to do with the Euro or saving the pound - yet the Conservative party pushed this as if their lives depended on it. The idiocy of their Asylum Seekers policy would only have appealed to Attila The Hun. The Conservative Party needs to sit down and ask itself what on earth it thinks it is doing.
Vaughan Brant, London, England

I think quite simply the Tory agenda was not in line with that of the voting public. I think people would definitely rather have more investment in public services than tax cuts. Let's face it, a 10 a week tax cut is easily forgotten, but 10 from every taxpayer in the country turns into a substantial sum to be invested in public services. Most English people have been to Europe where transport systems, healthcare and the like are of such a higher standard. Conversely, lots of English people have been to the USA where Tory style tax cuts and privatisation has lead to a divided society and very poor (public sector) services.
David Wright, London

William Hague's conservatism was too right wing for my liking and I feel the intervention of Maggie Thatcher did more harm than good. I believe many voters cannot forgive her for what she did to the country. Hague needs to appreciate that many voters believe our future lies within Europe.
Jan Chivers, Vale of Glamorgan

I feel that the conservatives have let me and many others down, and have removed our ability to choose. I do not wish to pay more tax for poorer services. I need to use my car, I need a decent education system, and I only want to go euro if conditions are right, but I do not agree with the way the Labour government are achieving it. Identify with the people who will support you and forget the extreme views which box you into a corner and you will get re-elected
Craig Storey, Cheltenham

I am disgusted with this Country's electorate

Dave West, North Wales
I am disgusted with this Country's electorate. The public have said much about how bad a Government Labour are, and how badly they handled various situations, for example foot and mouth, petrol, the Euro etc. So when they had a chance to chuck them out they failed to do so. In my opinion the biggest problem was not with William Hague but with one the memory of 15% mortgages. A rate beyond the control of the Conservative party or any party at the time. The next few years will show Mr Blair's true colours. Dave West North Wales
Dave West, Carmel Flintshire Wales

The Tories are locked into a continual re-run of All Our Yesterdays and are supported in the main by an older generation. They look seedy and talk the language of an outdated philosophy that belongs in the tomb with the mummy.
Jon Payne, London

During the election run-up, my four-year-old son saw pictures of the three main party leaders. He pointed at the picture of William Hague and said "Mummy, he's a scary man". I couldn't have put it better myself!
Janet, UK

I voted Tory.

the Conservatives are now just another left leaning liberal party

David Jackson, Northwich
One reason why the Conservatives did so badly is that under Hague they have alienated too many people. They no longer seem to stand for tradition and high moral standards, and contrary to what is commonly said, the Conservatives are now just another left leaning liberal party. They seem reluctant to address moral issues, such as abortion. They have also been very weak on Europe, when they should have been calling for British withdrawal from the EU. While some Conservatives still retain a sense of real conservatism, it really isn't possible to vote for most of them.
David Jackson, Northwich UK

Surprisingly, I have no problems with New Labour winning, it's just the scale of the win that worries me. A much smaller majority would have been healthier for democracy here. More checks and balances are needed.
Phil W, Bristol, UK

The conservative party lost because they failed to address the real issues! Labour's been destroying not only the country, but also its democracy by establishing a public administration of cronies. The BBC is just one such example. Mr Hague criticised Labour only on the one single thing they've been doing right - European Unification. Although my beliefs are strongly democratic I found it very difficult to vote for a party that's against unification. Let's hope that the conservative party got the message and will do the right thing - better late than never!
Nick, UK

I like William Hague, to a point, but cannot stand his shadow cabinet. I particularly distrust Widdecombe, Yeo, Redman and worst of all, Portillo. I would never give them my vote.
Owen Clutton, Sussex, England

William Hague turns a lot of voters off with his monotonous style of delivery

Paul R, UK
The Conservatives are in no-man's land, with their traditional centre-right position hijacked by Labour. There was very little clear water between them and no radical proposals from the Conservatives that could inspire the nation. I think they were sunk by the debate over the supposed 20bn of public spending cuts and their lack of an effective response doomed any slight chance they may have had. William Hague turns a lot of voters off with his monotonous style of delivery like a vicar preaching to the congregation. But ultimately prior to 1997 Labour spent many years developing a highly polished media machine that helped get their points over and ensured that their attacks on the other parties caused damage. Rather than wait for Labour to shoot themselves in the foot, the Conservatives need to do a Labour-style streamlining exercise, come up with vote-winning ideas of their own and radically improve their media skills.
Paul R, UK

The Conservatives fared badly in this election because dictator Blair is really a Conservative cleverly using the name 'Labour' because he knows that people with a lesser education vote for the word 'Labour' rather than policies
Brian Langfield, Doncaster - UK

I think the Tories have too many of the old guard lurking in the background for them too attain any credibility with the electorate. People will not forget the 18 years they were in power. A warning to Labour though, you have to deliver or you are out.
Mark Johnson, London, England


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