Tory MPs attack 'negative' European election manifesto

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Indy Politics
PRO-EUROPEAN Tory MPs privately expressed anger last night over the Conservative manifesto for the European elections, which they alleged would attack Jacques Delors, President of the European Commission, writes Colin Brown.

'It is disgraceful,' a leading pro- European Tory backbencher said. 'Jacques Delors is a socialist, but he is acting as head of the Commission. By attacking him, the leadership is attacking the Commission. We risk being more negative than the campaign under Thatcher.'

Tory party leaders are adamant they will not be running a negative campaign. David Hunt, Secretary of State for Employment, has assured MPs his section of the manifesto would be positive, while attacking the social chapter.

But Tory backbenchers' anxieties have been increased by the secrecy surrounding the drafting of the manifesto by a small committee under Douglas Hurd, the Foreign Secretary. The Tory Positive Europe Group said it had been kept out.

Sir Norman Fowler, the party chairman, yesterday held a long meeting with his advisers about strategy for minimising the defeat at the European elections, which ministers are already dismissing as a protest vote.