Tories 'back in the human race'

ON THE day that his party launched its campaign for this year's general election, top Suffolk Tory Tim Yeo warned it was only just rejoining the human race.

ON THE day that his party launched its campaign for this year's general election, top Suffolk Tory Tim Yeo warned it was only just rejoining the human race.

Tory leader Michael Howard was today launching the party's General Election campaign by promising a "change of direction" for Britain.

He was unveiling the introduction to the party's 2005 manifesto offering the chance of a better future for the "forgotten majority".

Mr Yeo, who is MP for South Suffolk and shadow environment and transport secretary, said the two and a half years after the last election had been "wasted."

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The party had only started to speak to those who were not committed Conservatives since Michael Howard became leader.

Mr Yeo said: "The main problem in 2001 was that we were fighting on issues which were important to our supporters, but did not concern the floating voters that we needed attract.

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"It's only in the last 15 months or so that we've addressed that situation - and I hope that will show up in our manifesto and in the general election itself.

"I feel in this election we are will be going into extra time - in 2001 we were effectively 3-0 down before the campaign started," he said.

His views were backed up by Paul West, who will be fighting the Ipswich seat in the general election.

He said: "The party is far better in tune with the concerns we are hearing on the doorstep now.

"For instance, if the issue had come to a head four years ago the party would have been going on about hunting all over the place.

"Now people know our position, but it isn't an issue that is dominating everything else for us - it's the kind of thing that doesn't attract too much concern on the streets of Ipswich."

Mr Howard said a Conservative government would mean lower taxes; power given back to people; and crime, immigration and disorder brought under control.

The pledges come ahead of the General Election expected on May 5. Over the coming weeks Mr Howard will detail how the Tories would deliver on their commitments of lower taxes, cleaner hospitals, school discipline, controlled immigration and more police.

He said it would be a manifesto for the "forgotten majority' who were ambitious, hard-working and law-abiding but who had been let down by Labour.

Labour general election co-ordinator Alan Milburn said: "The first sentence of any Tory manifesto should be an apology to Britain's hard working families for the Tory failed past of boom and bust, mortgage misery and cuts to schools, hospitals and the police.'

He added: "Today, the Tories are launching Thatcherism in instalments. Michael Howard's only approach to the future is to take Britain back to a failed Tory past."

Are the Tories ready for the general election? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

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