Dyke is a 'vulgar, uncouth oaf', says frontbench Tory

John Bercow, the fast-rising member of William Hague's frontbench team, opened a new frontal attack on the BBC, and its director general, accusing it of ingrained bias against the Conservative Party.

John Bercow, the fast-rising member of William Hague's frontbench team, opened a new frontal attack on the BBC, and its director general, accusing it of ingrained bias against the Conservative Party.

Mr Bercow told The Independent: "Greg Dyke is terribly vulgar: he's an uncouth oaf and very rude. He doesn't listen to Conservatives. The BBC is congenitally left-liberal. It can't help itself."

Relations between the BBC and the Conservative Party are at a low following accusations of bias in news programmes and political interviews. Referring to Norman Tebbit's attacks on the BBC in the Eighties, Mr Bercow said: "Very little has changed. We should be clear about that. Tebbit's attacks were justified then and ours are today."

But the scourge of Cherie Blair has admitted that he was wrong to attack the Prime Minister's wife as "a cross between First Lady and Lady Macbeth" and to suggest that she had designs on the Queen's role in public life.

He admitted that his attack on Mrs Blair for her public endorsement of the Government's Human Rights Act this summer had backfired. "I don't think it struck a chord with the public," he said. "It backfired because the people who agreed with me were anti the Blairs to start with and it didn't convince many others - I agree it might even have alienated them."

Mr Bercow also revealed that Central Office had been "keeping a dossier" of Mrs Blair's public pronouncements for some time with the intention of launching a critical attack on her alleged influence over the Prime Minister - and that he was chosen for the role by Central Office.

He hinted that the Conservative leader's wife, Ffion Hague, was angered by the attack on Mrs Blair. "She may have cavilled, I suspect." Of Mrs Blair, Mr Bercow now says: "I have nothing against her personally. She gives every impression if being a lot brighter than the Prime Minister.

"I still think that there are issues about the way she speaks and writes and whether these are suitable for a serving Prime Minister's wife. But we should perhaps have gone about it differently. The attack didn't hit home. People thought that we were anti-working women as a whole which is an entirely wrong impression."

The outspoken Mr Bercow, 37, is fast becoming the Conservatives' most boisterous attack dog. Describing himself as "Son of Thatcher," he has strong support among grass-roots Tories, but causes nervous outbreaks in Central Office and the whips' office, where he is deemed a loose canon. Mr Bercow made it clear, however, that his attack on Mrs Blair had been endorsed by the Tory leader, although the strength of the invective is said to have caught the leadership off guard.

In the feisty and ambitious Mr Bercow, New Labour has a trainee hate figure to rival Michael Portillo and John Redwood. Accused by Robin Cook of being unfit for the Tory frontbench because of his past membership of the far-right, anti-immigration Monday Club, Mr Bercow, a home affairs spokesman, replied: "He is the most arrogant, pompous and unsuitable Foreign Secretary in living memory... These are views I held when I was a teenager and I don't hold now."

Asked why he thought the Conservatives were still unpopular with young people, he said: "The thing that I've learned since the last election is that you mustn't come across as foaming at the mouth. Perhaps we gave people to many reasons not to like us."

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