The Conservative Party in Blackpool: Factional tendency attacked by Hurd

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The Independent Online
DOUGLAS HURD, the Foreign Secretary, yesterday underscored the need for unity in the Conservative Party and warned against the use of foreign policy as an opportunity for factionalism.

Winding up a debate on Europe and foreign affairs, Mr Hurd said the party needed to look at the world with clear eyes. 'Neither our interests nor our instincts lead us to hide in a corner, curse all foreigners and wish the world would go away. The temptation is sometimes there to do that. It is not for us to yield to that temptation.'

Though Conservative opponents of European union were vociferous in fringe meetings, the debate was almost devoid of any criticism of government policy either on the EC or Bosnia.

Speakers made strong appeals not to return to the European exchange rate mechanism and attacked what one called the 'publicity-seeking handful of MPs' undermining John Major.

Mr Hurd said: 'We need a united party which leads and generally urges us on, chides us from time to time if it wishes, but declines to use foreign policy as an opportunity for faction.'

Reaffirming government support for Boris Yeltsin, he told the conference: 'The responsibility for those who lost their lives, rests squarely with those who used violence to block reform and drag Russia back into darkness.'

Defending his stand on Bosnia, he said anyone who believed action from the air or the supply of arms would have ensured peace with justice without fighting troops on the ground was deluding themself.

Last month at the Liberal Democrat conference, Paddy Ashdown branded the Foreign Secretary an appeaser over Bosnia. But Mr Hurd said Mr Ashdown deployed troops and unleashed bombing raids as 'aids to an ovation. When we decide, we are not deciding on a soundbite or a headline, but on lives - British and Bosnian'.

With the Liberal Democrats a target in every ministerial speech, he said Mr Ashdown captained a vessel which skimmed happily across the surface. 'His speed is impressive as he catches every breeze of opinion. His party is fast moving, easy on the eye, but empty - no cargo, no compass, no destination. It will not be long before he joins his predecessors on the rocks.'