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Sorry Mr Hague, but your painting is the pits.

TORY leader William Hague harked back to happier times yesterday by painting a childhood memory of rolling green hills, blue skies and a rainbow over a coal pit.

But the muddy colours of the work were not a hit with critics, who also felt that it was less than tactful to include a coal mine, since Tory policies have pretty well wiped them out.

For the onlookers, just one word summed up his painting - awful.

The bizarre-looking canvas, a splodge of green beneath a pretty dull-looking rainbow and grey-blue sky, ended up looking more like the stuff of nightmares than a happy memory of childhood.

Surprisingly, this childish daub took 15 minutes for him to put together. Even more surprising for some, he used a brush, not his foot.

But Mr Hague is colour-blind, and the colours had to be pointed out for him by the four-year-old children in the London pre-school class.

His painting is part of a nationwide competition among around 200 MPs to publicise the charity work of the Pre-school Learning Alliance.

The 38-year-old Yorkshire MP said of his painting: "It is where I used to live, near Rotherham, where there are green hills and coal faces.

"I remember seeing a rainbow over the scene in my childhood."

Mr Hague's efforts as an entertainer went down better than his art.

And after reading out a story to several children, he said: "I have really enjoyed myself. It has been great fun. And it is all in a good cause."

Jenny Wallace, spokeswoman for the pre-schools campaign, said: "I couldn't comment on the quality of this painting, because he hardly had any time to do it in. But he was very sporting in doing it.

"When he first came in he said to the children 'I am colour blind so I will need some help'. He asked them to guide him to the red and the blue.

"He knew what he wanted to do with the rainbow but just needed a little help."

The paintings will be judged on April 27 by a panel including actor Sir Nigel Hawthorne, radio presenter Sue Lawley and children's author Judith Kerr.

The winning painter from each party will then take part in a "paint-off" at a Commons reception on May 12.
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Author:Hughes, Chris
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 30, 1999
Words:380
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