Now it's Hague the video

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The Independent Online
While William Hague and his new bride Ffion bask in the warm climes of India on their honeymoon, Tories are being asked to watch a video of their leader.

"Hague, The Christmas Video" has been sent to 700 constituency bosses by the Conservative Party chairman Lord Cecil Parkinson, with instructions to pass it around for the faithful to view.

As they gather in draughty Conservative clubrooms, they may be in for a disappointment. The video is a re-run of a party political broadcast screened in October, with a short morale-boosting speech by the leader tacked on to the end.

The Independent on Sunday can bring his words to you in the privacy of your own home, having obtained a copy of the leader's script. Mr Hague is in a mood for understatement, saying: "It has been a difficult year for the Conservative Party."

He attacks Labour for "breaking their promises" on taxes, saying: "In the last few months we have at least got a few things straight. We certainly got straight the nature of this Government, of the New Labour Government. They really are a government without any principles or values."

Mr Hague admits that the Conservatives had a few difficulties in this department. "We understand why we lost," he says. "People thought we had become arrogant, that we had become sleazy, that we didn't listen and that we were out of touch.

"Rightly or wrongly, these are the things that they thought about us. So we have to put these things right."

This offers "great excitement" in 1998, he insists. "We are going to listen to the country. In the new year we are going to launch 'Listening to Britain', the biggest exercise we have ever mounted in making sure that our MPs are listening to, and in touch with, the people of this country."

"Hague, The Christmas Video" may not reach as many homes as the Walt Disney hit Beauty and the Beast. But the plot promises to be much the same.