New Articles 16-year-old William Hague rails against the evils of socialism in his famous speech to the Conservative Party conference in 1977

The annual release of secret papers from the National Archive reveals Mrs Thatcher’s scornful response to a plan to put the precocious young Tory in the Treasury

Michael Portillo's sexual past is colourful - but it's his own affair

The image is irresistible: the future Tory leader in a canary twinset, cavorting on Midsummer Common

`These confessions will not worry the blue-rinse brigade'

CONSERVATIVES IN Kensington and Chelsea said yesterday that Michael Portillo's revelations about his homosexual experiences made no difference to whether he is selected as a parliamentary candidate. In fact, the blemish on his curriculum vitae may even boost his chances.

Leading Article: As Mr Portillo once said, who dares wins

BRITISH POLITICS needs Michael Portillo. This is not a sentiment that The Independent might have found itself sharing a few years ago. Mr Portillo's performances at Conservative Party conferences played well with a dwindling band of elderly activists, but for most of the rest of us they were toe-curling embarrassments, maladroit and bordering on the xenophobic. To the voters Mr Portillo was, Neil Hamilton aside, the most potent symbol of the arrogance that enveloped the Conservatives during their last years. There were many who were glad that they "stayed up for Portillo" to see him lose his seat in May 1997.

Portillo speaks of gay experiences `in past'

THE FORMER defence secretary Michael Portillo last night spoke of having had "homosexual experiences". He is the most senior Conservative to make such a statement.

Farewell to the maverick Mr Clark

Enter Mr Portillo, great blue hope

Letter: The no-policy party

Sir: Contrary to what the Tory image-makers would like us to believe, the unpopularity of William Hague has little to do with image and a great deal to do with the lack of Tory policies.

Tories accuse Portillo of compassion

MICHAEL Portillo was accused of trying to further his Tory leadership ambitions yesterday after his latest attempt to portray himself as the "caring" face of Conservatism.

Archer insults generation of black London women

JEFFREY ARCHER'S bid to become mayor of London was in danger of imploding last night after he described a generation of black women as badly dressed and overweight.

Prepare for poll, Hague tells party

WILLIAM HAGUE has put the Tories on alert for a general election next spring and ordered them to shed their image as a "single issue party" on Europe. Although Tony Blair is unlikely to call an election before autumn next year at the earliest, the Conservative leader has demanded that the party speed up its preparations in case of a snap poll.

Hague puts party on election alert

WILLIAM HAGUE has put the Tories on alert for a general election next spring and ordered them to shed their image as a "single issue party" on Europe. Although Tony Blair is unlikely to call an election before autumn next year at the earliest, the Conservative leader has demanded that the party speed up its preparations in case of a snap poll.

Ministers' fury at Blair over shuffle circus

FURIOUS Cabinet ministers are demanding that Tony Blair end the annual cabinet reshuffle ritual which they say paralyses the Government for weeks and provokes continual, and humiliating, media speculation.

Tory rethink on free Bank of England

WILLIAM HAGUE may end the Tories' hostility to an independent Bank of England in an important policy U-turn.

Blair in assault on Old Labour

TONY BLAIR plans to isolate Old Labour under sweeping party reforms after being warned that Labour's "ramshackle" machine could jeopardise its general election prospects.

Politics: Portillo tipped to take Peter Brooke's London seat

SPECULATION OVER Michael Portillo's political comeback to Westminster intensified last night after it emerged that a safe central London seat will be vacant at the next general election.

Politics: The Week In Westminster - Tony should ignore the pampas grass people should listen to Skinner's Old Labour

TONY BLAIR had a rotten week and his normal confidence deserted him during a lacklustre performance at Prime Minister's Question Time. The leader hailed as the principal victor in the Balkans war found it difficult to adjust to the grind of domestic politics.
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