Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Embattled 'Loyal Opponent' Hague Faces Popular Labour Government in Britain, and a Rough Time at Party Meeting

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Embattled 'Loyal Opponent' Hague Faces Popular Labour Government in Britain, and a Rough Time at Party Meeting

Article excerpt

Senior figures in Britain's Conservative Party are beginning to wonder if they blundered in picking the youthful William Hague to lead them.

They doubt whether Mr. Hague has the qualities to play his constitutional role as opposition leader. Britain's system works best when the opposition party in Parliament is able to pose a credible challenge to the government on key issues.

Hague's title is "Leader of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition." Anyone in his post is expected to have leadership qualities that would enable him or her to become prime minister at short notice. Hague is encountering criticism that he is a political lightweight, out of tune with his party. With Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair's approval rating soaring after five months in office, Hague is heading for what promises to be a testing at the Conservative Party's annual conference the first week of October. That gathering follows the end of September Labour Party conference at which Blair demonstrated a tight grip on his party. Even Lord Parkinson, the Tory veteran Hague named as Conservative Party chairman in June, is reportedly uneasy about a series of alleged blunders Hague has made since succeeding former Prime Minister John Major, who resigned as party leader after the May 1 general election, which Labour won in a landslide. Hague may also suffer embarrassment at the party conference in Blackpool, England, when results of a vote on his leadership are announced. Soon after being chosen leader by his fellow Conservative members of Parliament (MPs), he invited party activists to cast ballots confirming him in the post. Party workers say many party members abstained rather than support their new leader. Before the party conference, Hague let it be known that he favors reform of the House of Lords, even though the Conservatives opposed any change to the upper chamber of Parliament during the campaign. On Sept. 29, the Marquess of Hertford, a senior Conservative peer, called Hague's U-turn "unfortunate" and "unwise." In mid-September, veteran Conservative MP Alan Clark, who represents the well-to-do London constituency of Kensington and Chelsea, accused Hague of "bringing in management consultants to reorganize the party. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.