Howard in the firing line

Contributed by editor on Mar 12, 2005 - 06:19 PM


After Folkestone and Hythe MP and Tory leader Michael Howard claimed his revitalised party was dominating the political agenda and forcing Labour on the run, Government "big guns" launched a scathing attack on his leadership.

Mr Howard had claimed Conservatives were now making the political weather over immigration, hospitals, schools and taxes and at the Tory spring forum in Brighton. He said that the party's fortunes had left Labour "rattled" and desperate to cling to power at all costs.

But Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett launched her attack on the Tory leader saying he was an opportunist who would make a "disastrous" Prime Minister.

She branded him a "man of straw" who was more interested in bad headlines for Tony Blair than in strong security for the country.

The Labour attack continued when Cabinet minister Peter Hain accused Mr Howard of endangering national security for the sake of party advantage.

"What we have here is Michael Howard in his normal shameless way trying to claim some kind of credit out of what has been a pretty humiliating defeat," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Michael Howard's whole position is putting at risk serious anti-terrorism legislation and therefore the security of the country."