Heseltine faces egg-throwers: Communists disrupt Newbury by-election meeting. Patricia Wynn Davies reports

MICHAEL Heseltine, President of the Board of Trade, was loudly heckled and had eggs thrown at him last night during a stormy meeting in the previously uneventful Newbury by- election campaign.

Mr Heseltine's praise for John Major's 'diplomatic coup' in ratifying the Maastrict treaty prompted an angry reaction from members of the Communist Party of Great Britain and opponents of the Maastricht Treaty on European union.

He was heckled by supporters of Dr Alan Sked, who is standing as the Anti-Maastricht Anti- Federalist League candidate. Two eggs then thrown at the platform by Communist Party members landed above Mr Heseltine and the Conservative candidate, Julian Davidson. Stewards hurriedly removed the protesters from the school hall at Thatcham to the applause of Tory supporters.

Police were called but no arrests were made.

In a strongly pro-European but anti-Social Chapter speech, Mr Heseltine claimed the Liberal Democrats would let socialism in by the back door.

Mr Heseltine's speech was timed for the eve of the completion of the Report Stage of the treaty legislation.

His guarded defence of the Government's economic record did little to dampen expectations yesterday that David Rendel, the Liberal Democrat, will take the seat.

That projected victory is unlikely to reach the heights of the 10,000 majority indicated by last weekend's NOP opinion poll. A drop of about 10 per cent in turn- out from the 82.8 per cent in the general election could still see a narrow defeat for the Conservatives, while a concerted Liberal Democrat attack on the apathy factor could mean a comfortable win for Mr Rendel.

Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal Democrat leader, told a rally in Newbury last night that voters should seize their chance to demand a change: 'On Thursday you can vote for David Rendel - a strong, independent- minded local voice for Newbury - who will take with him to Westminster the message that the British people are not happy with the Government's performance; they are not happy with their policies - and they want to see some changes.

'Or you can vote for another loyal backbench Conservative to vote for Norman Lamont's budgets - and send this Conservative government the message that, however many mistakes it makes, it will never have to pay the price.'

Mr Ashdown highlighted how resigning had gone out of fashion under a government of 'decline, division and, at times, downright dishonesty'.

Andrew Marr, page 19

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Manager - OTE £50,000

£25000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative online car purc...

Recruitment Genius: Subscriptions and Marketing Assistant

£12500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A subscriptions and marketing a...

Metail Ltd: Business Development Manager for Asia Pacific

£35,000 - £40,000 based on experience : Metail Ltd: As a Business Development ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Supervisor

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a well establis...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate