Christchurch: Hurd has Tories' excuse ready: Minister says public 'fed up with politics'

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Indy Politics
DOUGLAS HURD prepared for a humiliating Tory defeat in the Christchurch by-election yesterday by saying: 'People are becoming fed up with politics.'

It is an excuse Cabinet ministers are likely to use again at about 2am on Friday, 30 July, when the result comes in.

The Foreign Secretary said yesterday: 'There is a problem in this country. There is a problem in every Western country I know of people who, to some extent, are disillusioned with politics. It is a problem which politicians have to wrestle with.'

It is not an excuse that will wash with some of the 36,627 true blue Tories who elected Robert Adley 15 months ago and who are threatening to desert in their droves next week. Rob Hayward, his successor, wisely does not try Mr Hurd's theory on the doorsteps. The message rammed home again yesterday to campaign teams on opposing sides is that voters are fed up with the Government.

Paddy Ashdown, the Liberal Democrat leader, and his party candidate, Diana Maddock, yesterday walked down the high street in Ferndown plucking floating voters like apples from trees as they queued up to speak to him. Unless they had been bussed in by Cowley Street officials for the camera crews, it was a genuine sign of the mood.

One local, Sonia Toogood, said: 'I have been Tory all my life. I naturally vote Tory. But not now. I am going to vote for the Liberal. The Tories are lost. They have no charisma, they have no leadership. How can you vote for a party that doesn't know where it's going? I think the time has come for us to stand up.'

The Tory campaign has started to attack the Liberal Democrats directly. It was a tactic that worked in the General Election and could stiffen the sinews of the wavering Tories here. But the signs are that it will not, and Mr Hayward, a good candidate, will lose. If Mr Hurd thinks it was because the electorate was 'fed up with politics', he will have lost in vain.

1992 election: R Adley (Con) 36,627 (63.5 per cent); D Bussey (Lib Dem) 13,612 (23.6); A Lloyd (Lab) 6,997 (12.1); J Barratt (Nat Law) 243 (0.4); A Wareham (Raving) 175 (0.3). Con maj 23,015. Electorate 71,469. Turn-out: 80.9 per cent.