By Claire West

In a rousing speech to the opening session of the Conservative conference in Birmingham, William Hague, the Foreign Secretary and First Secretary of State tore into the Blair/Brown administrations and their legacy of economic incompetence, Whitehall chaos, and nationwide demoralisation.

And highlighting the opportunity now facing Conservatives to serve the country and bring about the changes so desperately needed, Mr Hague declared: 'The choice is now Ed Miliband's. Will he join us and the Liberal Democrats, who have come together to clean up the mess Labour left behind? Will he set out a credible plan to deal with the deficit?

'Or will he follow the unions who fixed the election for him, and Ed Balls and Gordon Brown who tutored him, in running away from the biggest problem facing the country and abandoning the centre ground of British politics?'
Mr Hague also used his speech to declare New Labour 'dead', citing book sales at Labour's recent conference.

'New Labour is dead, and if anyone doubts that just look at the book sales reported at last week's Labour conference: Peter Mandelson: The Third Man - 40 copies sold; Tony Blair: A Journey - 5 copies sold, one stolen; Tristram Hunt: The frock-coated Communist, the revolutionary life of Friedrich Engels - 90 copies sold. In today's Labour Party Marxism is 15 times more popular than Blairism.'