24 March 2006

Hain 'honoured' by Paisley's resignation demands


24/03/2006 - 14:49:44

Northern Secretary Peter Hain said today he viewed calls by the Rev Ian Paisley for his resignation as a badge of honour.

In a speech to Labour activists in Wales, Mr Hain laughed off criticism levelled at him in Northern Ireland by loyalists and republicans.

He told the Labour Party in Wales’ annual conference in Swansea a republican mural in Belfast claimed ‘Hain was insane’, while a loyalist mural read ‘Shin Hain’.

Mr Hain, who is also the Welsh Secretary and who represents Neath in the House of Commons, said: “Ian Paisley called for my resignation last month. It’s really a badge of honour.

“He knows how we transformed Northern Ireland.”

In a speech focussing on his own party, Mr Hain said Labour needed to renew itself and get back in touch with its grassroots.

And he warned Welsh Labour’s annual conference in Swansea not to underestimate the threat posed by the Tories.

Mr Hain said Labour had to recapture the high ground of progressive politics and needed to re-inspire huge numbers of floating voters.

“We must renew ourselves as the guardian of progressive values,” he said

With Welsh Labour activists warning during their conference of an unholy alliance between the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and a resurgent Conservative Party, the Northern Ireland Secretary said a Tory-led coalition was the only alternative to a Labour Assembly Government.

He warned there was a real danger of a Tory First Minister in Wales after next year’s Assembly elections.

“Never, ever underestimate the Tories,” he said.

“They are the oldest and most successful election winning political party in the world.”

The minister also dubbed Tory leader David Cameron Mr Floppy and warned he would jeopardise hard-won economic recovery under Labour.

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