TUC Conference: Hague turns to law and order

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The Independent Online
TOUGHER POLICIES on "teenage tearaways" will be unveiled by William Hague today as he tries to shrug off fresh criticism of the Tory leadership's performance by the party's grassroots activists.

Motions tabled for next month's Tory conference in Blackpool reveal the frustration among party members at the Opposition's failure to dent Labour's commanding lead in the opinion polls.

The Epsom and Ewell Conservative Association "urges the party leadership to emphasise the successes of the last Conservative Government, to secure a higher profile in public life and to stop apologising for past errors".

Activists in Hemsworth urged "all members of the Shadow Cabinet to be more positive and aggressive in exposing the hypocrisy and failure of the Labour Government".

Despite the criticism of the Tory leadership, party officials took heart from the grassroots backing for Mr Hague's hardline stance on Europe.

Today Mr Hague will answer calls from party members for him to "revitalise" Tory policies by announcing a tough law-and-order package at the close of a two-day Shadow Cabinet summit in Aylesbury. He will argue that the little-used curfew orders introduced by the Government are not working, and say that teenage criminals should be locked up to keep them off the streets.

Yesterday the meeting approved plans to cut tax on savings for pensioners and others on low incomes from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, a proposal which will be included in the Tories' general election manifesto.

Mr Hague promised a "savings revolution" which would turn the Government from the savers' enemy into the savers' friend. "Conservatives are on the side of the family who works hard, saves hard, tries to be independent of the state, wants a better future for their children and believes in their country."

But the tax cut for savers, which would cost pounds 85m a year, was criticised by Alan Milburn, the Chief Treasury Secretary. "There's massive black hole at the heart of the Tories' plans because they keep making uncosted promises," he said.