In an outspoken attack on the Labour leader, Jeremy Hanley, Conservative Party chairman, said Mr Blair had 'completely reversed his policy on every single major issue' to become the 'wrapping over the Labour Party which still believes in the old principles'.
Mr Hanley's comments follow a week in which Mr Blair declined to direct abuse at the Prime Minister. In a complex reference that sailed close to gaffe-making, the Tory party chairman said: 'Everyone recognises Tony Blair is a most attractive individual, but he is the image which belies the party he leads. Somebody once said that if you open a Pandora's box, out comes a Trojan horse. Somebody once said it - I think it was Ernest Bevin. I think Tony Blair is a wooden horse.' (While he was Labour foreign secretary Mr Bevin is reputed to have said: 'If you open that Pandora's box (the Council of Europe) you never know what Trojan 'orses will jump out.') The new attack on the eve of the Conservative Party conference - stressing that Mr Blair had changed his mind over Europe and disarmament since entering Parliament - served to underline continuing government divisions over how to counter the Labour leader.
Mr Hanley's aggressive style is in tune with that of the President of the Board of Trade, Michael Heseltine, who favours a tough attack on Mr Blair. But it also reflects the position of Michael Howard, the Home Secretary, who wants the Government to emphasise the difference between the rhetoric and the reality of Mr Blair's policies.
The confusion comes as the Conservatives brace themselves for attacks from the right over tax, Northern Ireland and law and order. An editorial in Conservative way Forward, edited by the right-winger Sir George Gardiner, calls on the Chancellor to 'think again' over his decision not to allow tax cuts in this November's Budget.
The article says: 'A start should be made in the coming Budget with 2p off standard rate as the first downpayment to the taxpayer.' The same publication argues that 'our message to our citizens in Ulster should be: 'You have made clear by majority where your national loyalty lies and we intend you to stay with us'.'
Enoch Powell will use a fringe meeting at the conference this week to break a silence in place since the IRA ceasefire. The former Chancellor, Norman Lamont, may also defend the Union.Reuse content