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Saturday, 9 June, 2001, 18:38 GMT 19:38 UK
Was Hague right to resign?
William Hague has announced his decision to resign as leader of the Conservative Party following his party's disastrous showing in the general election.
In a dramatic statement outside Conservative Central Office in London he said he would stand down as soon as a successor has been chosen.
"I believe it is vital that the party choose a leader who can build on my work, but also take new initiatives and hopefully command a larger personal following in the country," Hague said.
Do you think that William Hague was right to resign? Who do you think his successor should be?
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.
Hague was a poor leader. Apart from his ability to deliver scripted one-liners, he didn't have what it takes. Like many child prodigies, his precocious charm became ridiculous in the adult world. If the horses were galloping, he'd hitch a ride. His collision with reality was inevitable.
Hague is right to resign. As a leader you take on the responsibility for failure. Portillo isn't the man, he is perceived as old Tory as is Clarke. The Tories need a new man who can gel with the public, one who has served the public before Politics. Doctor Liam Fox or someone like him is needed to make the party attractive to the average voter.
What the Conservatives really need is a leader who can wipe that stupid grin off Mr Blairs face for good. "Mummy" would be my first choice as she was the greatest leader Britain has ever seen, but Kenneth Clark has shown himself to be a charismatic MP who appeals to both "wings" of the Tory Party.
Despite his animated exchanges with the Prime Minister at the despatch box during question time, it was patently obvious that he was more inclined to launch scathing attacks on the Labour government rather than to promulgate a lucid and tenable policy attributable to the Tories. It is the failure to expose the electorate of a meritorious and endearing alternative to the present regime, which had ensued in his party's demise.
From a young adult's point of view, Hague's 'Save the Pound' campaign and staunch anti-European stance never struck a chord. The conservatives need to stop acting like mini Winston Churchills and accept the fact that young Britons are patriotic about Europe as well as Britain.
Andrew Kearney, South Manchester
Many people have commented how Hague did not appeal to the public and yet many of those same people go on to say that Portillo should be the next leader of the Tories. EH? To coin a phrase - out of the frying pan...
Please, please, please let Portillo lead the Conservatives. Then Labour will be in for at least another 2 terms. I think the biggest threat to Labour would be Ken Clarke.
Resigning was the first politically astute decision Hague has made since entering the House of Commons. By doing so without the inevitable push, he will have gained the kind of goodwill that he lacked all along as Leader. No doubt he will eventually become an effective Minister, and in the meantime serve a sentence of at least 20 years of growing up.
The Conservatives lose an election and their leader resigns, yet again. How can the Party remake itself and move forward if no leader will stay in the job? Although Hague could be said to have behaved honourably, and swiftly, maybe his resignation smacked of a knee-jerk reaction, instead of considering the longer-term recovery the Tories so badly need.
Andrew Higgins, North Yorkshire, UK
I for one will be sad to see William Hague step down. He is perhaps one of the most intelligent politicians of today and would have made a fine Prime Minister. It seems to me that these days public image is as important in a politician as what is in his or her head.
I will miss William. I watched him regularly on Prime Minister's Question time on its rebroadcast here in the USA. I thought he was a great voice for Conservatives everywhere. It appears that British people are resigned to four or five more years of socialist mediocrity
Mr Hague took on one of the most difficult jobs in politics back in 1997. Mrs Thatcher was quite correct at the time she said: "they will not turn that around" before the next election. Everyone knew that his job was terminal and he merely played it according to plan.
His going therefore should come as no surprise.
Hague was correct to resign, he should have done so after his disgraceful 'foreign nation' speach. His whole campaign had a vile xenophobic tinge. The man is a disgrace and I hope this is the last time the political debate in this country will be lowered by his presence.
Yes, right to resign but not so soon. A little like John Major's defeat, a new leader will get chosen in the heat of the moment and bitterness of defeat without a time to reflect and make level-headed assessments.
All the Conservatives' talk about "reflection" and having time to consider is nonsense, they said exactly the same things after the last election. What they really hope is that they can put off making any difficult changes for as long as possible and that one day they will wake up to find the public has swung behind them once again, but it isn't going to happen and perhaps Hague's resignation will force them to face up to it.
Hague was a great leader and debater. At the time he was one of the only people who could have stopped the Tory party from splitting. However he chose to do this by moving his party to the right and this has made them unelectable to the majority of the British electorate. The Conservatives now need a strong leader who will recognise that Britain is a part of Europe and will take on the 'loony-right' of the Conservatives just like (New) Labour took on the militant left. The only man for the job is Ken Clarke - let's just hope they don't go for second best again!
He was right to resign after such a massive defeat. Ken Clarke remains the only person who can rescue the Tories from a possible fate as the third party. Portillo is unelectable because the public will not forget the right wing label he so recently discarded and Widdecombe would become as ridiculed as poor old Michael Foot once was.
No, although who can blame him? All the personal attacks on him must have been horrible to bear. His personal qualities of honesty, strength, wit and stoicism are obviously not fashionable in our shallow society. His resignation is a great loss to party and country.
Hague was right to go. To be quite honest, I just didn't buy the Hague image. Trying to make oneself into "something the public likes" never works. Michael Portillo, by contrast, is his own man - someone who is not afraid to be himself. I'm afraid none of us thought the image was genuine. It certainly couldn't compensate for that dreadful droning voice and the woeful charisma bypass. and country.
Adrian Descalles, Leicester, UK
William Hague was right to resign. It has nothing to do with his competence but rather the fact that he will not be able to move the Conservative party leftwards. Only a leader coming from the right can do this and that will be Portillo. He will do so in exactly the same way that a perceived leftwinger, Kinnock moved the Labour party to the right and set up the victory for Blair.
Hague had to resign.
Unfortunately he was a mummy's boy. And we all know the damage mummy did to the country. The electorate were
not going to suffer that again. If the Tory party wants re-invent themselves, then they must choose a populist leader. And that can only be Kenneth Clarke. We know he is a euro-man, but
let's be truthful. Any man with a modicum of common sense is.
I really don't think that anyone else in the Conservative Party has the skills to succeed Mr Hague. He was a real leader and a real potential Prime Minister. He should have stayed on for another election as it wasn't really his fault at this election but that the whole party just weren't prepared.
Eric, Truro, Cornwall, UK
I do not believe William Hague should resign. Of all the party leaders, he is the most genuine. I feel the media have been most unfair to him. Unfortunately, we will now have to suffer another term of New Labour's hypocrisy and moralizing.
If the Tory Party has to reinvent itself, it would look weird for the same leader to be spouting different views than before.
Kinnock survived after a defeat because he dented the government majority. Hague hardly scratched it.
The people that the Tories need to be looking at, if they are serious about returning to power in 10 (never mind 5) years' time are the likes of Liam Fox, Andrew Lansley and Iain Duncan Smith. They were not high profile in the last shadow cabinet and could reposition themselves as centre-ground politicians far more easily than the likes of Portillo, Maude, or Widdecombe.
If the Tory party ever want to be re-elected, they should get someone like Chris Patten to lead the party. Portillo is not a popular figure on the political stage, nor any of the other Tory party members of the present day. Get back some of the old guard to run the party again. That is if they ever want too form another government.
Steve Brown, North Vancouver, Canada
He should have stayed and lost the next European elections, at least the Tories would be spared the need to elect a new leader every two years.
William Hague I think did the honourable thing by standing down, perhaps sooner than expected but I suspect a witch-hunt would have followed otherwise. So, honourable but a shame, a great speaker and debater he put Blair to shame and my only sadness is that sufficient seats were not won by both opposition parties to give us a credible democracy in this country.
I think Mr Hague was correct in his decision resign. His continuing as party leader would serve to make the party look more foolish than they already do. There is a lot of talk from the Tories that they focused on the wrong issues in their campaign. The truth of the matter is they don't appear(to us the general public) like a party capable of running the country.
He is right to resign. I blame the rest of the rabble in the Conservative Party for the defeat. He is an excellent orator and his grasp of issues is second-to-none. This reminds me of John Major's leadership in a strange way - decent bloke, awful Party!
Ben Holiday, London
William Hague's campaign had an unpleasant and jingoistic flavour. The conservatives had no heartfelt policies and deserved to lose the election. Resigning was the only decent thing he could do, and in doing so, he impressed me for the first time.
It's a shame, really. I liked him as a Tory leader. It made them unelectable, which was nice.
I don't think Hague had any option but to resign, the only question was over the timing. Now, the sensible thing for them to do would be to elect would be a double-ticket of Portillo-Clarke, but my instinct is that they'll bury their heads in the sand, go even further to the right (Widdecombe?) and leave the way open for the Lib-Dems to emerge as the only practical opposition.
Hague tried to be a populist but unfortunately was merely a reactionary. The old dinosaurs are vying for the succession. The only new name mentioned in all these e-mails is that of Boris Johnson but what about the likes of Archie Norman or even Sir George Young, who are good sound constituency M.P's?
Hazel Vanbergen, Hampshire, England
Hague's immediate resignation demonstrates that the Conservatives are going to have to rebuild the party from its very foundations. His reactionary, nationalistic style failed to muster a broad base of support and a swift ideological reformation, a move towards more Europhilic, centrist policies will have to take place in an effort to win back their traditional middle ground.
Hague had to go. The result was well below his party's expectations and he was left with no alternative. The real opposition to Blair will come from the massed ranks of his own back benches - they and they alone will be the ones who will be able to 'control' the new government. No bad thing.
It's a terrible thing to have to say but Mr Hague simply wasn't attractive enough to be elected Prime Minsiter. Also he spent his whole time bashing Mr Blair and banging on about the Pound rather than concentrating on today's real issues - health, education, and crime.
It is a great shame that William Hague is resigning. It is due to his strong leadership, first class debating skills and resilient character that I as a young voter (22) have taken an interest in politics over the last parliament. Unfortunately, I can't see myself connecting with, and thus supporting, any of the available successors of the Conservative party. Britain's youth have been robbed of a brilliant future Prime Minister who is willing to stand up for the nation's interests.
Ben, London, England
The Conservatives could have had Heseltine: they chose John Major. They could have had Clarke: they chose Hague. Resign? He should never have been chosen in the first place. Either the Conservatives full embrace the fact that Britain is part of the EU or they will have written themselves into history.
I believe that William Hague is very underestimated within the UK. He is a good man, a strong leader; he has reformed the party very well within the last 4 years. Now that he has gone we still lead a "young" leader to hold the Government to account.
The Tories need a strong, charasmatic leader who can re-focus the party so that it is more centrally-right, listens to the people and their concerns, and fights and acts as one. They also need a leader who will put the rabble in their places. Unfortunately there does not really appear to be a good pool to chose a leader from at the time being. Portillo and Widdicombe would be disastrous. I could see the party falling apart under their leadership. I think Hague has the potential to take the party forward but lacks the carisma. Of the current mob only Clarke sticks out, acceptable to the people, but will he have the strength and conviction to 'pull' his party in line? Seeing their behaviour over the past month, I doubt it.
After his first setback, Hague throws in the towel.
This does not strike me as the action of a 'courageous' man!
I think William Hague was absolutely right in resigning. As he more or less said, he gave it his best shot. The problem with him is that whatever your politics, he will always be remembered as that pretentious teenager addressing the Tory party conference. He is just not what people have in mind as a prime minister and I believe he is the sole reason for the poor Tory performance.
William Hague has presided over a spectacular and humiliating disaster for the Conservative party and should, of course, ultimately stand down as leader. However, he owes the party a breathing space to debate yesterday's debacle, the next steps, and how Conservatism can re-align itself. We do not want to rush into selecting yet another right wing leader who is going to misread the mood of the British people. The right wing of the party must accept that they are out of step with Britain.
Geraint Jones, Caernarfon, Wales
The Tories should not choose an anti-Euro leader in case they lose the referendum. This would leave them high and dry for a decade. Ken Clarke is trusted by the public and could lead whatever the result of the referendum.
Hague fought a fight that neither he, nor anyone else in the Tory party, could have won. He is an excellent debater who proved on many occasions that he was more than a match for the Labour front bench. Governments, of whatever political persuasion, need effective oppositions, which is what he provided.
I think Mr Portillo should lead the conservative party into the next 4 years. He is the only Conservative MP with the style and political grunt to stop the in-fighting in the Conservative party and repair the damage to the Conservative image caused by four years of dissention in the ranks.
Michael Bicknell, Redditch, UK
Mr Hague said he would take responsibility for the result and he was therefore right to go. The Conservative party must now decide if it is to be a European-style Christian democratic party or the English national party.
I think he did the right thing to resign, lets face it not many people liked him as you can see from the polling and same goes for Portilo if he becomes the leader.
He was right to stand down as the Tories are the reason for so few people coming to vote. The Tory supporters do not support their party's views, therefore cannot vote for them, but cannot bring themselves to vote for anyone else.
I stood in the polling booth for five minutes struggling to come to terms with the fact that I was voting labour for the first time in my life. It came down to the simple fact that William Hague would not be a credible leader of the country and that he led his party down a blind alley by insisting on a focus that was clearly not in tune with the country. He has realised, honourably, that if there is going to be the desperately needed turnaround in Tory fortunes he will not be the person to orchestrate it.
Mike Turner, Walton, Surrey, UK
Hague was right to resign, and he should go on to join another party where his abilities and integrity can find useful fulfilment. He should leave the Tory party to those venerable old ladies, brought up in the days where the right of the gentry to rule us all was undisputed, the lower classes knew their places
and individual achievement was scorned. At their best the Tories stand for patriotism, duty and honour but they have also always stood for reaction, privilege and amateurism. They have been wrong about every major political issue over the last three centuries from the divine right of kings to the euro
and it has cost our country dear.
Yes, Hague was right to resign. He had to hide behind Thatcher to try and win votes and that can't be right. Unfortunately for the Tories they do not have one single senior member that will appeal to the UK public. Portillo would be even worse than Hague
I am a Labour supporter, but I believe that in order to have good government, you must have good opposition to bring them to book. The Conservatives under William Hague have been poor opposition. To make them electable again the Tories must change, and Hague was right to stand down and let someone else try to make those changes.
Colin Davis, Paris, France (ex pat)
Politics have changed. This election was an American-style presidential race, and was promoted as such by the media. With the electorate in effect voting for a single person rather than their local candidate, there was never any chance for Mr. Hague. If we are now the victims of Personality Politics, the Conservatives need to appoint a personality to lead the party. Who better than Boris Johnson?
Hague's passing is a slap in the face for ordinary kids. We only produce a statesman like Hague every 20 years or so. Lets hope the reasons for him going won't put off another bright kid from a comprehensive from stepping forward in the future when our need of him may be more urgent.
He should have gone years ago. While he was at the helm the Tories stood no chance. Living outside the UK I don't see or hear much of William Hague, but I am astounded by the negative feeling he generates amongst my UK acquaintances. In an age where presentation is more important than policy the Tories need a charismatic leader. William Hague makes people want to turn off their radio or throw something at the TV screen.
Hague did the only honourable thing he could do in such a situation. The Tories need a major rethink of their entire policies and the way these are packaged and presented to the public. A change in leader is an essential cornerstone of such a rethink.
Politics is like a normal job in many respects: you do not go to your boss to say what's wrong with your colleagues. In the end, you must use your time wisely to provide solutions - that's the only way forward. Hague has always focused on Labour failures, but that does not help us, does it?
Mauricio Rocha, London, UK
William Hague is a strong, enthusiastic leader and a very good speaker. I think it's a real shame that he is stepping down and an even bigger shame that labour are in power again. Hague is far more likeable than Tony Blair will ever be!
I'm not surprised Hague has resigned, after the hammering he's had I'd not much fancy another 4 years either. Ken Clarke has to be the only man for the job, except that the xenophobes on the far right won't have it. I fear we'll be the third party before long.
Hague has done an excellent job in many ways, but has allowed the anti-Europeans to dictate policy. He is now right to go, to allow the party to find the proper balance again. If the party wishes to return to being electable, I agree with Heseltine that Kenneth Clarke is the right man. He is liked and trusted in the country. Hague and Portillo should endorse him.
Hugh, East Grinstead, West Sussex, UK
After 5 years and no improvement its time to go. No premiership football club would keep a failing manager for that long!
William Hague had backed himself into a corner by saying he would take full responsibility for a heavy Tory defeat. After last night what choice did he have? It's a pity, because as a person he came across as a nice guy but as a potential Prime Minister he never even began to look the part. He probably wouldn't have got elected even if the Tory party had managed to present itself as a credible opposition, which it didn't.
I do wish that William Hague would reconsider - he is a strong leader and should stay.
I think that it was a little premature of William Hague to resign when he did. It's pure tokenism which can only serve to weaken the image of the Tory party even further. William Hague is an astute politician with a wise head on his shoulders and I think the Conservative Party are now the worse off for his departure.
G Ralston, Johannesburg, South Africa
Hague had no option. Twice now the people have rejected the Conservative stance on Europe and their policies in general. In order to win the next election they have to reinvent themselves.
The Conservatives need a reformer like Blair to remove the hard-right and Thatcherites.
Mr Hague did a splendid job of retaining as many seats as possible against the sweeping popularity of Mr. Blair and the Labour campaign. Should Mr. Hague resign? Probably not. However, if he does not feel confident in his job as opposition leader and wishes to pre-empt the pressure that will undoubtedly be mounted upon him to resign, it is fitting that he do so.
The problem with the current Conservative party is that to the public they seem a split party who have no policies except to find fault with the Government's policies and who are constantly arguing amongst themselves. Maybe now we can have a leader who will actually come up with some new initiatives and who will unite the party properly. Hague is a good opposition leader but not a potential Prime Minister.
Nick, London, UK
Hague has been told repeatedly that his position as leader doesn't help the party. It is clear to most that Portillo or Clark (leader types) would have altered the polling. Labour would have been better with a leaner lead today.
He was always going to be the fall guy.
I think that Mr. Hague should stay. After all although he is leader of the Party the blame for another disastrous defeat is not entirely his. There are others involved who should also carry the can and be man enough to resign in the wake of this defeat.
Does it matter? One Tory is as bad as another.
Where is the Tory to change the party and the perception of the electorate? The biggest name is always Portillo. Do they not remember the glee with which his 1997 defeat was greeted right across the country?
The Tories have still not learnt the lessons of 1997. They've still to come to terms with it. Until they do, they'll move even further rightwards.
The question should be: when should he resign, rather than if he should. If Hague chose to stay on, he might win more seats for his party four years from now; yet anybody in his or her right senses knows that would not be enough for the Tories to regain power. It would be another four to five years in the wilderness before another Tory government becomes perceptible. If you were the Tory leader, would you like to be remembered for leading the party to two electoral defeats, or would you choose to leave quietly now?
Josh Hong, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Conservative party needs to reinvent itself seriously to ever be a force again in politics. This will only happen when they lose the Euro election and cease being a one-issue party. Was Hague right to resign? Yes, though the new leader has to ditch the old right-wing rhetoric that has shown the Tories are still living in the past.
Hague was right to resign. He failed like John Major did in 1997 in connecting to people. The people felt this, and Hague and his party paid the price in places like Torbay, Dorset, and Birmingham Edgbaston. This disconnection has cost the Tories a chance to win seats in Scotland (minus Galloway) and Wales. May the next Tory leader wise up and grow up before the Tories are no more.
Hague should have fought on. Ken Clarke is the only credible alternative to him but doesn't have enough support within the Tory party itself. I fear that the Tories will now become an inward-looking bunch of Little Englanders and provide little effective opposition to Blair. Hague, at least, could appeal to the more reasonable and open-minded sections of the public and still carry party support. No other Tory could do this.
There was a crushing inevitability about Hague's decision to stand down. It is almost as if the party, knowing full well it was heading for a second meltdown, felt obliged to play out this whole charade in order to appease their right-wing minority. The unavoidable truth is that the Conservatives must now fight to occupy the centre ground by reinventing themselves at Labour's expense. The groundswell of Tory support wants a more liberal approach to conservatism, with greater focus on public services and rolling back state intervention.
Well I think he was right in stepping down, let's hope Anne Widdecombe takes over. This would make them even more unelectable and hopefully destroy the Tories once and for all. Don't they understand no one under 30 will ever vote for them because of the bleak 18 years of Thatcherism we had to suffer as children. Any vote against the Tories is a fair vote in my opinion.
Mark Lawton, Amsterdam
Michael Portillo is ideally placed to become leader of the Conrservative party and will boost them to a more favourable profile.
William Hague has been an extremely effective parliamentarian who has performed his task as Leader of the opposition brilliantly. The Conservatives could really improve the state of schools and the NHS in Britain and should have pushed themselves on those issues, closest to voters' hearts. Best of luck to the next leader. (Portillo?)
That William Hague's leadership of the opposition failed to make any impact on the Government's unhealthily large majority when much of the electorate was clearly unhappy with Labour is a damning indictment both of Tory policies and of their campaign. Hague is perhaps not so much to blame as his advisers and the right-wing nasties of the Tory party such as Redwood and Widdecombe, but as leader he should have been strong enough to resist their extremist tendencies.
Hague is a very clever man, but one who never seemed to be able to attract the voter. As a leader it is very important to be able to catch peoples imagination and this never happened with Hague, it was only a matter of time before a replacement was necessary. Sadly if the polls are correct and Portillo becomes the next leader, things can only get worse. Kenneth Clarke is probably the best choice. If he were leader, then perhaps Michael Ancram would have been a good choice of campaign leader.
Once again an opposition party is going to spend the first few months after the election squabbling amongst themselves over who should be their leader rather than getting on with the job of being the opposition. Hague has done the honourable thing, but I do not think that it is the best for thing for the country.
Lee Correll, London, UK
Hague is completely wrong to step down. Amongst the remainder of potential leaders there are none who could be a better foil for Blair over the coming term.
Although I didn't vote for the Tories, I have had a lot of respect for Mr Hague. He was the only person to put dents into Mr Blair during PM question time, and I don't think that the other members of the Tory party would be as quick to identify the shams in the Labour policies, nor have the confidence to ridicule Mr Blair as only Mr Hague has been able to do.
While Hague must take some of the blame for the disastrous showing at the polls, just where is the next leader coming from? The contenders are at least as un-liked, if not more so. Hague has shown himself to be an able opposition leader, but the electorate just does not trust the Tories.
Yes, Hague was right to resign. He had to hide behind Thatcher to try and win votes and that can't be right. Unfortunately for the Tories they do not have one single senior member who will appeal to the UK public. Portillo would be even worse than Hague
He did the right thing in resigning. Hopefully this will trigger the Tory party to rip itself apart and disappear into history. They are irrelevant.
William Hague's rationale for resignation is to allow the party to adopt a leader with more popular appeal. Why then is Michael Portillo constantly tipped as front runner? The man who's own election defeat was voted as one of the best TV moments would be a death blow to the party.
Mrs Kirby, St Albans, UK
I do not believe that William Hague resigning out-right will resolve any issues in the Conservative party. He should at least stand in the leadership election so that his party can decide if he is still fit to lead. As he has said, the party is more important than one person.
It was not a mistake to elect Hague as party leader initially, he seemed to represent the new image the Conservatives wanted to generate. Unfortunately he has proved to be far too comical a figure, Who will replace him? Please not Portillo or, God forbid, Francis Maude. Kenneth Clarke is clearly out of the question as he is so pro-European which is a crying shame as he is one the most personable and respectable Conservative party members. No sleaze on him.
I don't think William Hague was right to resign. Despite Labour's landslide victory, he was the only man with the courage and conviction to save the pound. We may as well start using euros today.
I'm glad to see the back of him. Two main parties with almost the same views and policies, but one run by someone who staked everything on the euro. What a fool.
He was definitely right to step down. No one deserves the personal hammering he gets for the way he speaks and looks. Clearly too nice a guy and too bright to be a politician.
James Kennard, London, UK
The opposition party has been lead by an intelligent man. However, Hague is a man incapable of portraying the authority, presence and statesman-like qualities necessary to command the attention of a country and play a pivotal part in Europe. Hague was right to step aside - even four years ago the electorate accepted that Blair, unless he made a disastrous mistake, was set for a second term, given the alternative. In time Hague will be compared with both Michael Foot and Neil Kinnock because they too were intelligent men, who lacked the ability to relate to all society and therefore were unappealing to the majority.
Who could blame him? What a depressing job it must be to have to lead such an intolerant bunch of extremist bigots. I personally hope that Anne Widdecombe takes over the leadership of the party. Once the general public have had time to hear her nutty headmistress rhetoric of punishing all cannabis users and how all immigrants should be locked away in a detention camp then I'm sure this will be enough to convince people that the Tories are where they truly belong: in the political wilderness and completely out of touch with the realities of modern living.
He was definitely right to step down. No one deserves the personal hammering he gets for the way he speaks and looks. Clearly too nice a guy and too bright to be a politician.
I am a still-loyal (and disappointed) Conservative, and I have to admit that William Hague hasn't got voter appeal. He's got all the right qualities to make an excellent Prime Minister: the brains, the convictions, the courage. But for some reason people just can't see him leading the country. The combination of baby-face, Yorkshire accent and bald head add up to electoral oblivion. So he has to go. The fact that he hasn't hung on, or tried to argue a case to remain leader shows that he does have the right stuff.
I considered Nick St Aubyn to be the next leader of the Conservatives. The only problem is that he lost his Guildford seat to the Lib-Dems.
R Sobrany, Fareham, UK
Although I am a Tory supporter in most of their policies, I see the party in a real crisis as the other likely candidates for the leadership strike me as anything but "fresh".
William Hague has more energy and personal integrity than the vast majority of Tories -a consumate politician and worthy opponent. Nevertheless I'm sure there are many crocodile tears being shed at Conservative HQ this morning as the 'contenders' sharpen their knives for battle.
William Hague shouldn't have resigned. He was a good leader and it's just that the voter's did not see that he was our last hope of staying Great Britain or the United Kingdom. Voting Labour has meant that we have now agreed to join the United States of Europe. It also means that all our institutions like the Free NHS are living on borrowed time. No other EU has a free Health service so why will Brussels let us have money, from the taxes we will pay just to them, to fund a free health service? By the next election we won't have an NHS.
I think that Mr Hague had little choice but to resign. However, I wonder if the future leader of the Tories will learn from this defeat and move away from the Euro-sceptic policies, and extreme anti-asylum stance that they adopted for this election?
I think it is a sad day when we judge the quality of our leaders and potential leaders on charisma. Surely ability to do the job is more important than ability to please the audience with smiles and marketing-speak?
Yes, he had to go. To rebuild the Conservative party, we need a statesman, a person with charisma and presence. A person who can captivate and audience, a strong leader, and a person brave enough to challenge the old, and try the new. But most importantly, a leader to listen to the people, and give them what they want. We are short of choices, but we do have to make one. For my money, Michael Portillo is the only person who comes close.
Andy, Reading, England
I think Hague has to go. He is an able and effective performer, but his judgement has been appalling. His decisions to target the 'core Tory vote' and to try to make the election a referendum on the Pound were disastrous and effectively lost the election. The size of the 'core Tory vote' is obvious: it is about 30%. To win they needed the floating voters. The Tory party is in a similar position to Labour in the 80s. The hard right have taken over and seem incapable of realising that the British people just don't want extremists of any ilk. Until they realise this and move back toward the centre, the Tories will remain unelectable.
Here's Maggie's chance to get back in.
In a generation where apathy is probably more fashionable than hating the Tories, Hague is feeling futility settling in. I commend William Hague, he tried his best to do better for this county. At least he can feel a sense of satisfaction when apathists and Labour voters start complaining when Labour fails to deliver once again.
Richard Churchill, London
Ultimately the party leader has to take responsibility for gross misjudgement and therefore William Hague is right to resign. Whilst conducting his campaign with vigour and enthusiasm it is clear that the Conservatives made some key mistakes in their campaigning strategy. As a lifelong Tory voter I became dismayed to see the Conservative campaign continuously focussing on Europe and the pound.
He should not have stepped down. The Tories need to show that they are supporting each other. Hague was not that unpopular amongst people I know, and I think it would have been good to see him continue and rebuild the Tories.
After following the 2001 British election with much interest I must admit it will be sad to see Mr Hague go. He looked stronger during the last few days, however he has put his party's interests first by trying to avoid internal rift. He said he would take full responsibility if the Tories lost, well he is a man of his word. Well done Mr Hague.
Like Neil Kinnock, William Hague is a very intelligent and capable man, but in the age of television a bald leader simply can't win, especially without a posh southern accent.
Following a poor campaign in which the Tories avoided the main issues that the public were concerned about, as well as the poor result in the polls, he hasn't really got a leg to stand on. The Tories need to re-group if they are to be an effective opposition, and in four years time be in a better position to challenge for government.
No, he shouldn't have resigned. He was a hard working, good leader but his public image wasn't good. Maybe he was out of touch with what people really wanted. Health, education and transport, not tax and asylum seekers !
Of course he should resign. The next leader will face the extremely difficult task of reconciling the two wings of the party again, and he or she needs a lot of time. The biggest consequence of this result may be a return of Kenneth Clarke to the front bench.
A lifelong Conservative voter, Mr Hague finally convinced me to actually join the party. I understand his reasons and his decision, but I fear that this truly will sound the death knell for Conservatism in the UK. The result, and this outcome, is dreadfully unjust. 25% of the people in this country felt inclined to vote for the party of government. In other words, three quarters of this country have a government that they didn't ask for.
If Mr Hague feels compelled to resign, then Mr Blair surely has even more reason to go!
William Hague was in the most unfortunate position from the start. His party was bound to loose, regardless of who the party leader was. Any leader would be obliged to resign after such a crushing defeat, but there seems to be no real option within the Tories for a popular and ultimately successful party leader.
The trouble is that there is no one else to turn to. For obvious reasons, they won't choose Ken Clarke, the one Conservative MP who could actually be attractive to the public. They're likely to saddle themselves with either Portillo or Widdecombe, who would be double-strength turn-offs even compared to poor old Hague. Labour must be laughing out loud - they're going to be in for 14 years at least now.
Bob Cuddley, Greenspun, England
I think Hague was elected leader way before his time. There was still too much of the "little boy dreaming of Prime Minister" image surrounding him. However, I've come to like him more as a person during this campaign and think he would have made a great PM in 10 years' time.
The demise of John Major was probably more the fault of the many misdemeanours of his cabinet ministers. However, Hague is probably responsible for his own downfall; he was too spineless and did not excite the public at large. Portillo has waited a long time for this chance, and I think he is brave enough and capable enough to pull the Tories out of a big rut. It just depends if he shirks the opportunity in fear of the impending referendum.
This is a condemnation of our country. An able politician has lost big, due to the dumbing-down of politics, and the move to style over substance, ability, and integrity.
I guess he had to resign, given the results. A shame it was necessary as he has been a remarkable and strong leader. I think his defeat is more to do with the media, spin, frothy labour propaganda, unforgivable voter apathy, and the dreadful melting down of our society into a superficial, glossy, hello-magazine type shallowness that is prepared to judge someone merely by the sound of his voice and amount of hair.
What else could he really do? I think he has obviously watched too many silly old Tories ramping on about the empire and Great Britain and all that old tosh! Good riddance, bring on the next buffoon!
I did not vote Conservative, and to be honest I am pretty sure that I never will. However, my allegiances do not leave me blind to the qualities of Hague. He may have followed a poor strategy but he is not a bad leader.
To me he comes over as bright, honest in his opinions and an articulate speaker. He's maybe a little obsessed with sound bites, but Blair is obviously wary of confrontation as he cannot match Hague unscripted. Hague's decision to go is right for him. If he had not gone of his own accord his rivals would have been queuing up to stab him in the back anyway. I do not feel that his decision is right for his party though. Hague has not lost seats, I doubt if many of those that will seek to succeed him would have even done that well.
William is a thoroughly decent man but, unfortunately he was defeated by a combination of misguided policies, a slick Labour operation and his physical features, which I have to say is a very sad statement for the electorate.
Yes he was right to step down. Many people agree with what he stands for, but like any other commodity those beliefs have to be sold, and Hague just does not have what it takes. His image is such that people focus more on how he looks and speaks rather than what he is saying, and for that reason alone he never stood a chance of winning. Love him or hate him, Tony Blair comes across as a normal guy trying to do what's right (and I am a Tory voter). Hague never even came close to looking like anything but a whining politician.
I believe that he can and should still lead the Tory party. I think he should offer himself as a leadership candidate. A victory would give him a clear mandate, whilst a loss would just provide another leader for the Tory party.
Yes he was right to resign. The media were never on his side and never will be.
Unfortunately, I believe that he was the only great leader in the house: Blair is a shower at Prime Minister's Questions and Kennedy is not much better.
It is unlikely that any other leader would have done much better than Mr Hague, so losing was not necessarily a reason to step down, though here in Japan, leaders of the LDP usually resign following poor electoral performance. Having followed the UK press online, it is clear that had Hague not stepped down he would have faced constant pressure to resign anyway.
Hugh Drummond, Osaka, Japan
William Hague probably thought his policies were radical but they were in fact misguided and had only a narrow voter appeal. The Tories have proved they are now only a party for England. One seat in Scotland and none in Wales speaks for itself.
Even though Hague did not capture the imagination, it is the Conservative party's lack of credible policies that is their undoing. A new leader will not change that.
I don't think he really has a choice, captain and sinking ships and all that. I voted Tory but was in two minds as to the strength of his leadership. Hopefully Portillo will make a stronger leader and bring the Tories back to power. Good luck in the future Will; come on Portillo.
I feel dreadfully sorry for William Hague. He has shown himself to be decent, dignified and honourable. Quite a change from your average politician and exactly the type of person we need to lead our country.
It is a shame he has decided to stand down, but in the face of a second crushing defeat it is an honourable thing to do. The greatest tragedy is that his policies seem to have been largely ignored because he is a balding Yorkshireman.
John B, UK
I have a great deal of respect for William Hague, although I do not agree with the Conservative policies. He has gone with dignity and taken responsibility for the defeat.
Hague got it wrong. He has marginalized the Conservative Party to the far right and proved that reactionary policies are not the route to take in British Politics. Yes he should go. Who should replace him? It's not important. The real problem lies with the electorate's lack of belief in the policies that the Conservative Party, not just William Hague, campaigned on.
It's a shame, really. I liked him as a Tory leader. It made them unelectable. Which was nice.
Nice to see Hague display some integrity and resign before being pushed. If he'd had a shred of conviction perhaps he would still be leader instead of allowing himself to be swayed by every half-baked idea the Tories came up with during the campaign.Can it get worse? Of course it can, the prospect of Widdecombe becoming leader is almost too hilarious to contemplate.
Kirk O'Connor, UK
William Hague was a political disaster from the very first day he took the Conservative leadership. He's unimposing, extremist and about as uninspiring as his wife. Viva Charles Kennedy - and the 1,900 votes the Green Party amassed in Kensington and Chelsea!.
I was delighted to see Hague resign. He totally misjudged public opinion and concentrated on the wrong issues.
He's done the right thing. He could not inspire his party to get more votes than what they got in the previous election. Maybe some soul- searching will help in realising his true self.
Hague couldn't have done anything else. Although not a Tory I believe that his public persona did nothing but harm to the Tory party. Let's face it, did anyone really think this man could lead our country?
He should stay on.
He's a great asset -
to the Labour party.
Mr Hague has done the right thing. He could not possibly lead the Conservatives while there is such a large division in the party over Europe. Give the iron man Peter Lilley a go.
John Kay, Leics, UK
William Hague is an honest man but he was just a stop gap because the Conservatives knew they were going to lose and needed a scapegoat. The real election will be in 2006 with Michael Portillo as leader.
Probably he was right to resign because he is not a strong enough personality. I do feel however that he was given an impossible task. Who now? Anyone's guess - I do not feel that they have anyone strong enough to lead the country.
It is absolutely right that Hague resigns. The ridiculously out-of-focus campaign indicated that he and the Conservative party are completely out of touch with what voters think. Bring on Ken Clarke, at least he's his own man.
William Hague was never leadership material. The trouble is, is there anyone of leadership material in the Conservative Party today? A charismatic, strong leader is needed to pull the party out of the mess it is in.
I Z Toledano, Finchley, London
I think it was right for William Hague to resign - as he says, the party needs to move on. However, I'm not quite sure of the work he has done that he thinks others can 'build on'. Roll on Michael Portillo
Yes he is right to resign. Both he and John Major are/were excellent Prime Ministers, with the right values but without public appeal. The problem is that the Conservatives do not seem to have within their ranks at the moment the person made of the right sort of stuff!
I'm a staunch Labour supporter, so for Labour it's excellent news. When Major did the same thing in 1997 it caused absolute disarray and the Tories never really pulled it together since. I predict more of the same again.
I don't see why Hague resigned. He seemed so different.
Of course it was right for William Hague to fall on his sword and go. He led a defeated right-wing rump of the Tory party bequeathed to him by Mrs Thatcher, and failed to recognise Thatcherism and all it stands for is politically dead and buried. Instead of policies, he tried to appeal to greed and isolationism, failing miserably. But he also failed the political system, ensuring another 5 years of Government without an effective opposition. Come back Ken Clarke, all is forgiven. Richard Thomson.
Richard Thomson, Gosport, UK
William Hague is wrong to resign. As much as I revile the Tories, he still represents an 'acceptable face' for them, far more so than any of the likely candidates to succeed him. In addition, by forcing a leadership election now, he will focus Tory attention on a leadership battle and rifts in the party, instead of providing a viable opposition to Labour in the house.
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