Tory Party conference: Common sense 'will win Britain back for us'

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WILLIAM HAGUE gained rapturous applause from his party yesterday when he pledged that he would "give back the country" to the British people by launching a "common sense revolution". The Tory leader said his party needed to offer not just an alternative to the "arrogance and complacency" of Labour but also their own fresh ideas.

WILLIAM HAGUE gained rapturous applause from his party yesterday when he pledged that he would "give back the country" to the British people by launching a "common sense revolution". The Tory leader said his party needed to offer not just an alternative to the "arrogance and complacency" of Labour but also their own fresh ideas.

In his main address, he contrasted this year's Tory party conference with the "unadulterated hypocrisy" that had characterised Labour's last week. Mr Hague claimed a common sense revolution was needed when "the Government of Britain is the most two-faced, interfering, over-regulating, bossy, intolerant, arrogant and crony-run in our history".

Tony Blair had claimed before the last election that there would be no higher taxes, that he would be tough on crime and fight for Britain's interests in Europe. "This was their great deception. This was the great Labour lie." The "Labour lie" could be defeated by fighting a campaign based on "common sense, clear convictions and a united party". Such a campaign had brought success in the European elections earlier this year because people wanted to live in an independent country with their own currency.

"These people are not extreme. They are not fanatics. They've got more sense in their gut instincts than in all the collective wisdom of this Government and their fellow travellers.

"Now our task is to speak up with the same common sense and clarity and conviction on all the other great issues facing our country. It's time to make the case for that revolution. So let us begin."

The Conservatives would make "a bonfire of rules and regulations" and cut the size of Whitehall itself, Mr Hague pledged. "I make you this promise: I'll reduce the size of the Cabinet, cut the number of ministers, reduce the size of the House of Commons, campaign for a European Parliament of fewer members, halve the number of political advisers to ministers and abolish all of Labour's regional agencies and assemblies."

Mr Hague launched a fierce personal attack on Mr Blair's dismissal of the "forces of conservatism". "I am proud of the forces of conservatism. I am proud of what they have achieved this century. It is the forces of conservatism which, in a dangerous century beset by socialism, communism and national socialism, have left our country at the end of that century free and proud and strong."

The "insults" to Conservative voters was not the most "extraordinary" thing about Mr Blair's speech. "It was what that speech revealed about who the Prime Minister really is. At times, listening to Tony Blair was like listening to a recording of Conservative slogans from the last twenty years," Mr Hague said. "The Conservative Party and the British people, hand in hand, that's how we'll build our common sense revolution."

Mr Hague said the Conservative Party believed in the traditions, institutions values and instincts of the British people. "That's what the common sense revolution is all about. I just want people at least to be able to do the basic things in life: to keep more of what they earn and save, to be left in peace to get on with their lives, to drive their car they worked so hard to get without being despised or penalised, to be protected from theft and violence, to expect decent services in return for all that money they pay in tax, to be allowed to live in a free and independent nation.

"If you believe in an independent Britain then come with me and I will give you back your country," he said.

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