Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair: I Will Bury the Rightwing Legacy of Thatcher

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Blair: I Will Bury the Rightwing Legacy of Thatcher

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK HENNESSY

TONY BLAIR sets out today to bury the legacy of Margaret Thatcher and isolate the Tories on the extreme Right of British politics for years to come.

The Prime Minister is expected to launch an all-out drive to get every possible Labour vote out on Thursday and win a second crushing victory over the Conservative Party.

He was staging Labour's morning press conference in Wellingbough, Northants - the party's most marginal seat, which it seized from the Tories with a majority of 187 in 1997. The symbolic venue was chosen in an attempt to counter the Tory warning over the danger of a landslide win for Labour.

Mr Blair will then make his final keynote speech of the campaign - spelling out what he believes were the "fundamental failings" of Lady Thatcher's reign in the Eighties.

He will claim a big Labour victory will prevent a mainstream political party ever again campaigning on a platform of spending cuts that would hit schools, hospitals and vital public services.

The Tories, meanwhile, who strongly dispute Labour's claims, are expected to hammer home their "anti-landslide" message after effectively conceding defeat.

William Hague's senior aides are privately admitting they will make gains of no more than 20 to 30 seats, still leaving them short of claiming 200 MPs.

This would mean a Labour majority of at least 120, which might allow Mr Hague to claim he had exceeded expectations and fight to remain party leader.

However, similar forecasts four years ago by the Tories proved hugely overoptimistic. The party is particularly worried about London, where yesterday's Evening Standard poll gives Labour a massive 27 point lead. The ICM survey shows Labour ahead of the Tories when voters are asked which party they trust more on a whole range of issues - schools, hospitals, transport, pensioners, the economy, tax, crime and Europe. …

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