Hague buys a table for his kitchen cabinet

WILLIAM HAGUE is taking his commitment to "kitchen table Conservatism" literally. He has installed a kitchen table in the foyer of Tory Central Office.

The 5ft-long varnished wooden table - from a second-hand shop - has been positioned outside the lift at the party's headquarters. Staff have been told to remember that they should be focusing on bread and butter issues every time they walk past it.

The Tory leader announced last month that he intended to woo back voters with a new approach known as "kitchen table Conservatism". Members of the Shadow Cabinet were instructed to concentrate on key issues such as health or education and use simple language to explain policies.

However, MPs are astonished that Mr Hague has decided to place a real table in such a prominent position. They detect the hand of Archie Norman - the Asda boss and Tory chief executive who is famous for his management consultants' gimmicks - behind its installation.

Conservative officials say the table is made of "indeterminate brown wood". It could seat six people, although there are no chairs around it.

"It's a symbolic kitchen table, fairly plain wood with four legs. It's not the sort of table that would be seen in the dining rooms of Islington, but in Middle Britain it would be a respectable kitchen table," one insider said. "It's there as a constant reminder for the party to keep in touch with the voters as we exit the lift."

The phrase "kitchen table" - drawn from American political vocabulary - was widely mocked and Mr Hague was stung by claims that neither he nor his staff owned such a piece of furniture.

This is the second time that the Tory leader has turned to furniture for inspiration. Last year he put a group of brightly coloured Ikea chairs on the platform at the Conservative conference in an attempt to emphasise his party's "modern, new approach".