The Tories in Bournemouth: Hanley promises revival in fortunes

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The Independent Online
Doubts over conference gave him the traditional party chairman's standing ovation for a rallying attack on Labour and the Liberal Democrats and a pledge of a 'revival' in Conservative fortunes.

Urging the party to seek to regain the high ground on law and order, a more confident-looking Mr Hanley said: 'I am heartily sick of Labour rhetoric on law and order . . . How can Mr Blair claim to be 'tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime'? After all, how tough do you have to be to abstain throughout the Criminal Justice Bill?'

He was equally sick of the rhetoric that sought to undermine or belittle the Government's achievements. 'False perceptions have been masking the achievements of this country and this government,' he claimed.

Implicitly accepting, however, that Labour's crime stance had struck a chord with the electorate, he said: 'We are determined to shatter one perception above all others - the belief that you cannot turn the tide on crime.'

Turning to where the party intended to go in the second half of the Parliament, Mr Hanley said: 'Let me tell the pundits that they should get ready, once again, for a Conservative revival.'

Attacking the Liberal Democrats - 'Given half a chance, the Liberals would abolish our Sovereign and our sovereignty' - Mr Hanley said: 'Let the public be in no doubt. There are two ways to vote for a Labour Government - by either voting for Mr Blair or for Mr Ashdown.'

Labour had been wrong on each and every major political issue in recent years: nuclear weapons, union ballots, privatisation, tax cuts, more power to parents, Health Service reforms and state ownership. 'How could a party which has been wrong on just about everything in last 15 years possibly be the right party for Britain in the next few years?'