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SHADOW CHANCELLOR COMMITS TORIES TO SPENDING TARGETS

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The Conservative Party has made its most dramatic attempt yet to recapture the political middle ground by promising...
The Conservative Party has made its most dramatic attempt yet to recapture the political middle ground by promising to fulfil the government's spending pledges on health and education.

The Financial Times (p9) reports that Francis Maude, the shadow chancellor, told party activists yesterday that he would match the£40bn Gordon Brown has earmarked for schools and hospitals over the next three years.

But he added that partnership with the private sector in the provision of public services would continue to be explored.

However, Michael Portillo, the former minister who lost his seat in 1997, predicted the new Tory strategy would fail to convince voters the party was dedicated to public services.

And refering to a previous speech by the deputy leader of the party, Mr Portillo said: 'If Lady Thatcher's high spending on health and education and John Major's real concern for public service cannot convince them, it is unlikely that a speech by Peter Lilley will make a difference.'
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