Launched with a whimper;Diary;News and opinion

26th November 1999 at 00:00
GLUM FACES and sweaty palms at the Conservative Central Office this week for what should have been a big moment.

A rather subdued group of Tories gathered on Tuesday to deliver a blast of common sense in the shape of their fledgling education manifesto - knowing that, alas, certain events within the Tory party had conspired to drive it off the news agenda.

It was hard to tell whether the almost complete absence of hacks was a blessing or a curse - probably the former to judge by party vice-chair Tim Collins' rather nervous glance around the group and his request for "education questions first".

But the bloodhounds on the trail of the Archer story were elsewhere. With Tim flanked by a brave-faced Theresa May, her junior shadow James Clappison and various policy wonks - sorry, common-sense revolutionaries - Tories rather outnumbered the press.

Eventually Tim gave way and allowed other topics to be raised. He seemed relieved to say that whatever the revelations about Lord Archer, they were no longer the concern of the Conservatives.

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