Labour treating middle classes with contempt - Hague

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Indy Politics

Tory leader William Hague was today accusing Labour of lying to the British people over tax and treating middle-class voters with contempt.

In his keynote speech to the Conservative Spring Forum in Harrogate, Mr Hague was claiming that Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor Gordon Brown felt they had a moral right to lie, because they viewed anyone who wanted tax cuts as greedy and selfish.

And he was repeating his claim that low taxation was a moral good in itself, because it encouraged greater prosperity, created jobs and allowed people to give more to charity.

He was telling the party faithful that there were millions of voters - he was describing them as "the moderate mainstream majority" - who were disillusioned by Labour's record on issues such as taxation, the repeal of Section 28, the pound and Europe.

He was insisting that the next general election was winnable for the Tories if they could reach out to these people, many of whom voted Labour for the first time in their lives in 1997.

They could be attracted back to a Conservative Party which did not treat them with the contempt they had received from Labour, he was saying.

Mr Hague was saying that Mr Blair had convinced himself that it was moral for him to raise taxes while claiming to have reduced them, because he believed he would spend them for a higher moral purpose than individual taxpayers would have done.

He was saying: "Tony Blair thinks people want tax cuts for base reasons, that they are selfish and greedy, so it is legitimate, in his view, for him to lie to them."

But Mr Hague was insisting that there was no need for higher taxes to pay for improvements in public services such as health and education.

Echoing shadow chancellor Michael Portillo's pledge yesterday to support the NHS and state education and to match Labour spending promises, Mr Hague was saying that the extra money could be found by more effective spending as well as by cuts in the bills for social security, bureaucracy and asylum-seekers.