Hague wants women in Carlton Club ands makes his stand for women

Sexual equality: Conservative leader threatens to quit Tory bastion over its refusal to admit female members

WILLIAM HAGUE has warned the elite Conservative Carlton Club, which has voted twice not to admit women, that it must change its rules or lose him as a member.

In an interview with The Independent, he issued an ultimatum: "The Carlton is not just a gentlemen's luncheon club. It is one of the homes of the Conservative Party... It is just not acceptable that a club in that position does not admit women as full members."

Mr Hague said that he intended to campaign to ensure that the rule is changed and indicated he would resign his membership if a renewed vote went against him. "I don't want to bully people ... But they know that my position is very strongly held. I will do everything I can to make sure a third vote leads to a change.

"There is no point in me going round the country saying we should have more women candidates and bring more women into the Conservative Party and then say, `Sorry, women can't join the Carlton Club'." All Conservative leaders are members of the St James's club, founded after the Tory defeat of 1832. Baroness Thatcher had honorary membership.

More than half of club members who voted in the last ballot supported a change. But this fell short of the two-thirds majority needed for constitutional alterations. Mr Hagueintends to make this campaign a symbolic gesture of the party's commitment to encour-aging female candidates.

Mr Hague also extended an olive branch to the renegade former chancellor, Kenneth Clarke, saying that he would be happy to see him in the Shadow Cabinet, on condition that he did not openly campaign against the Tory leader's policy on the single currency.

"I often talk to Ken and he agrees with everything I have been saying about the economy. His judgement as chancellor was excellent. We get on very well together. We just disagree on the one issue. That does not stop him being a Conservative and a very valuable voice in the party," he said.

Mr Hague will travel to Rushcliffe, Mr Clarke's Nottinghamshire constituency, to address the annual Conservative Association dinner, a gesture seen as a symbolic mending of the rift over Europe. "Knowing Ken and me, we will find time for a pint of bitter."

Could Mr Clarke return to the Shadow Cabinet if he agreed not to oppose publicly the present policy before the next election? "There is no other obstacle to his returning," Mr Hague said.

But how could the former chancellor, whose support for Britain joining EMU is amply documented, sit in a Shadow Cabinet that wants to keep the country out of EMU for 10 years? "My policy is the one on which we will fight the next election, it doesn't have a specific time limit," Mr Hague said.

So if Labour held a referendum on EMU a year after the next election and won a "yes" vote, would Mr Hague accept the result? "We are a democratic party and we would accept the will of the people. But we will campaign vigorously for a `no' vote because a single currency is irreversible..."

No senior Tory figure hasemerged as the head of a potential "no" campaign. Should Michael Portillo lead the anti-EMU clan? "There should be a broad camp, not only identified with the Tory party. I hopeMichael Portillo to be a part of that," Mr Hague said. No mention of shared bitter-drinking accompanies this lukewarm endorsement.

Mr Hague has put up with the infuriating ancestral voices of Lady Thatcher, who has predicted he will lose the next election, and Sir Edward Heath, who has said he would not join the party if he were young today. "I don't feel dominated by them. I am doing my own thing,' he said. "I'm pleased to say that Margaret now has a much more up-to-date view of the next election."

The tension inherent in Mr Hague's changes to Tory style leave traditional Tories, the backbone of the party, feeling that he neglects their sensibilities to pursue New Labour on to the centre ground."I have to stand for what I believe in. I don't have time to make compromises with different factions," he said.

His directness and plain-speaking are clearly assets. His misfortune is that these virtues have not yet penetrated the public mind. Mr Hague's ratings remain dismal.

Maybe it was a mistake to start out wearing that baseball hat? "It was a hot day and I don't have much hair," he jokes. While he is giggling, I ask whether he believes he will ever be Prime Minister. The laugh stops. Quickly, he says: "Yes."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C#.NET Server Side Developer (C#, XML, WCF, Unit Testing,SQL)

£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...

Junior Database developer (SQL, T-SQL, Excel, SSRS)

£20000 - £30000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Junior D...

Helpdesk Team Leader / Manager

£45000 per annum + pension,medical: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable gl...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?