Hague to unveil fresh Tory future

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The Independent Online
TORY leader William Hague will today unveil the reform package that he hopes will breathe new life into his party.

Symbolically, he will launch the initiative at the Westminster venue where he made his first pledge to bring radical reform, during last summer's party leadership contest.

The document being published by Mr Hague is called "The Fresh Future".

Tory party members will be asked in a ballot to endorse the reforms it proposes, the principles of which were set out in a consultative paper at last October's party conference.

Sources said the ballot mechanism would be different from that used for autumn's double vote to endorse Mr Hague as leader and the six principles of his drive for reform. There were complaints then that the system was inefficient.

One reason the party was hamstrung was that until now it has not kept central registers of its membership - one problem which will be rectified under the reforms.

Some 181,000 party members voted in last autumn's ballot. Voting papers were sent to local party chiefs, who were then asked to distribute them.

This time, constituency officers are being asked to send their membership lists to Tory national headquarters, which will then send the papers to individual members early next month for return by 23 March.

"It's still imperfect. There will be some duplication. But it will be a significant improvement, more efficient and more accurate," said a source.

The votes will be counted at Central Office under the scrutiny of representatives of all wings of the party, and the party's auditors, Coopers and Lybrand.