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Heseltine slams Tory leader

London, Dec. 9 (Reuters): A withering broadside today from a senior colleague against Britain’s Opposition leader piled more trouble on the once-mighty Conservative Party which is failing to dent Tony Blair’s government.

In the first open attack from a fellow party member, Michael Heseltine — a major figure in former “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher’s government — said the Conservatives had no hope of winning an election under current leader Iain Duncan Smith.

“We are at around 31 per cent in the polls when we would need to be at 48 to 50 per cent to have a ghost of a chance of winning the next election,” he told The Independent newspaper.

“There’s no prospects of achieving those ratings under the present management,” the flamboyant publisher-politician added.

Heseltine's comments brought into the open a whispering campaign against Duncan Smith, viewed by many as a poor inheritor of the party that dominated late 20th century politics under the likes of Harold MacMillan and Margaret Thatcher.

Duncan Smith sought to play down the attack.

“It’s the most irrelevant story I have ever heard,” he said.

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