UK News Electronic Telegraph
Friday 20 June 1997
Issue 756

Loyal colleagues are ready to reap the rewards
By Rachel Sylvester and Joy Copley

Enter Hague the Younger

WILLIAM Hague's inner circle of friends who supported him throughout the leadership campaign can expect to be rewarded well for their loyalty.

Alan Duncan, the closest thing the Opposition has to Peter Mandelson, Labour's "Prince of Darkness", was the spin doctor who whipped the new leader to power. He is certain to have a crucial front-bench role in the new team.

Mr Duncan, who made his millions as an oil trader, is a slick political operator who is an expert in spin doctoring. During the leadership campaign he was regularly on the telephone to journalists putting out his man's line for the day. Like Mr Mandelson, he can be both charming and menacing.

Mr Duncan and Mr Hague were nearly contemporaries at Oxford and both became President of the Union. The two men are friends and, when Mr Hague was a new MP in the late 1980s, Mr Duncan offered him the use of his house five minutes' walk from Parliament.

Mr Duncan became influential in the Tory Party when he was parliamentary aide to Brian Mawhinney, the chairman. He made a citizen's arrest of protesters who had thrown paint at his boss in the street.

He is not afraid of deploying controversial tactics. In the Tory leadership campaign, his approach has been far softer and, it appears, more effective. He was Mr Hague's right-hand man, omnipresent during the campaign, mobile telephone in hand, guiding Mr Hague in and out of events.

The second lieutenant was James Arbuthnot (Hampshire North East) who was the Hague campaign manager. An experienced former minister at social security and defence, the Chancery barrister is an obvious choice for a job in the shadow cabinet.

Another safe bet for the shadow cabinet is Michael Ancram, the former Northern Ireland minister. He played a crucial role for Mr Hague by helping to bring in support from different wings of the party, as did Sir Peter Tapsell, who acted as the elder statesman.

Nigel Evans, Mr Hague's former parliamentary private secretary and MP for Ribble Valley, who looked as if he would burst with happiness when the result was announced, can also expect a front bench job.

Roger Gale, (Thanet North) and Tim Yeo, (Suffolk South), who both played vital roles from the beginning of the campaign, can also expect to be on the front bench. There is also some talk in the Hague camp of bringing back Michael Portillo, the former Defence Secretary, or Michael Forsyth, the former Scottish Secretary, to play a key role at Central Office.

  • Lord Harris of Peckham, the Tory Party treasurer, was the key backer who funded Mr Hague's campaign. Mr Hague said last night that Lord Harris gave 50,000 of the 84,100 raised to back to his leadership attempt.

    Other contributors were: David Steene, managing director, City Mortgage Corporation (20,000), Jamie Borwick, chief executive, Manganese Bronze Holdings (6,100), William Salomon, director, Rea Brothers Bankers (5,000), Valerie Bright, director, Mother Nature Ltd (2,000), and Philip Bassett, chartered accountant (1,000).

  • Mr Hague's grandfather, Jack Jefferson was taken to hospital yesterday a few hours before his leadership win. Mr Jefferson, 95, from Rotherham, South Yorks, was kept overnight in the town's general hospital.

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