March in step or else, says Hague
Sunday 29 June 1997
In a move reminiscent of Labour's centralising reforms, Mr Hague has ordered all his front bench team to abandon membership of groups that organise slates in internal elections.
His direct attack on the factionalism which dogged the party in the last parliament is likely to end the influence of gatherings such as the 92 Group of right-wing MPs, the Positive European group and the Macleod group on the pro-European left.
Mr Hague has also insisted on greater co-ordination of his party's media message, with shadow ministers being asked to clear interview requests with his parliamentary political secretary, Alan Duncan.
Mr Duncan is being presented as the party's answer to Peter Mandelson - Labour's former director of campaigns and communications and now a minister.
One senior Conservative source said last week: "We have learnt a lot of lessons and we will have to update, but this will make Peter Mandelson look amateur. There is a renewed sense of purpose."
During the last decade the party's internal groups have played a leading role within the party's structures. The No Turning Back group and the Thatcherite 92 group were powerful forces on the right. The pro-Europeans struggled to match the right in terms of organisation, founding several groupings to try to fight back. The Mainstream group formed the basis of Kenneth Clarke's leadership bid, with backing from 70 MPs.
There was also a stern warning to Conservatives who leak from shadow Cabinet meetings. The source said: "Breaking shadow Cabinet confidences will be regarded as a capital offence."
Meanwhile there was evidence that Mr Hague had used his discretion in applying his "loyalty test" over the single currency. Shadow ministers in departments unrelated to foreign affairs will not be asked to promote the anti-single-currency line but will be expected to abide by it in public.
The Conservatives sought to keep up pressure on Tony Blair over allegations that Ron Davies, Secretary of State for Wales, threatened one of his backbenchers, Llew Smith, over his opposition to devolution. That claim was denied by Mr Blair last week in the Commons but repeated by Mr Smith the same day. Nigel Evans, opposition spokesman on Wales, called for Mr Davies to resign if he is unable to explain the allegations. He said: "Ron can run but he can't hide for much longer."
t Sir Edward Heath, the former Conservative prime minister, has dismissed Mr Hague as "a tragedy for the party". Speaking in Hong Kong, Sir Edward said: "He's got no ideas, no experience and no hope."
Justin Bieber was one of the hardest hit
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...
£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...
£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...
£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...