Gutsy Kate takes charge

THERE'S only one word to described Labour MP Kate Hoey and that's "gutsy." She champions the union between Britain and Northern Ireland and stands up for the rights of foxhunters – not exactly views to endear her to New Labour's chattering elite.

THERE'S only one word to described Labour MP Kate Hoey and that's "gutsy." She champions the union between Britain and Northern Ireland and stands up for the rights of foxhunters – not exactly views to endear her to New Labour's chattering elite.

Last month, she was warned by voices representing the Departure of Culture, Media and Sport that her vociferous campaign calling for African nations to stand up to Robert Mugabe was in danger of damaging London's bid for the Olympics. She ignored them.

Miss Hoey, MP for Vauxhall in south London, has been appointed Chairman of the Countryside Alliance, which champions most things the Labour Party hates.

Brought up in rural Northern Ireland, Miss Hoey is undaunted. "There should be no difference between the way a government treats people in town or country.


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"Rural people have the right to equality of health care, education and service provision, the right to decent affordable housing, the right for their businesses to diversify, develop and compete with those in urban areas and abroad, the right to engage in country sports and other activities without prejudiced legislative assault."

She added: "A true democracy respects the rights of all minorities and I look forward to contributing to the Alliance's campaign to ensure that the rural minority is treated with tolerance, fairness and respect."

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As long as she doesn't campaign for the re-introduction of hare coursing, we'll get on just fine.

AT the other end of the left wing spectrum stands Respect, the party formed by Bethnal Green and Bow MP George Galloway. It's launching a Colchester branch tomorrow night to forge an alliance in the borough between opponents of the Iraq war, trade unionists and "genuine" socialists.

Mr Williams says: "While no one can say that if Britain had not joined in the war in Iraq that the London bombings would not have happened, Tony Blair's decision to back Bush's war clearly made it more likely that something like this

would happen."

Respect could cash in on Labour's dwindling fortunes across the borough. In the Colchester constituency, Labour's vote at the General Election fell 5% to 19.79% while in the Essex North division – which includes Wivenhoe, Tiptree and Dedham – it slumped by nearly 7%.

The launch takes places in the RAD hall in Walsingham Road at 7.30pm. More details from Dick Williams on 01206 861378 (e-mail: RJW@essex.ac.uk).

LAST week, openly gay Shadow Cabinet member Alan Duncan rubbished the "Tory Taliban," the "moralising wing" of the Conservatives, which he claimed, could lead the party "into oblivion." We now know to whom he was referring – the recently formed Cornerstone Group of socially conservative Tory MPs.

In a Cornerstone pamphlet published yesterday, Edward Leigh urged the party to return to the core values of "faith, flag and family" in order to win back public support. Echoing US President George Bush's successful election campaign, he said the Tories should not be afraid to proclaim its support for traditional Christian values.

What will condemn the Tories to oblivion is this endless Whitehall farce in search of the party's soul. I hold out little hope of it stopping, whoever is elected the new leader.

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