TORY candidate Richard Drax has hit out at claims that he was told to lose his quadruple-barrelled name in the latest class war debate.

The South Dorset Parliamentary Candidate has been dragged into a political argument between the Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Tory leader David Cameron concerning the public school background of senior Tory figures.

Now Mr Drax, whose full name is Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, claims that his background and the length of his name has nothing to do with his ability to run for parliament and resents the criticism.

He said: “I think it’s rather sad that when the country is on its knees this Government has decided to preoccupy itself with this.

“It’s where we are going not where we have been that matters now. It’s what’s in your soul and heart and what you represent.”

He states that he only uses the shortened version of his name because of the ‘logistic mouthful’ of his full name but said he has never tried to hide it.

He also strongly denied any accusation that his party leader had asked him to shorten it.

Mr Drax, 51, has recently married Elsebet and lives on his Charborough Park family estate near Bere Regis where he runs the family business.

His family can trace it’s aristocratic lineage back to 1439 – when Sir Christopher Plunkett became the first Baron of Dunsany. Six of Mr Drax’s ancestors have been MPs.

Mr Drax fought off 30 other applicants for the South Dorset seat including two women on the Tory A-list of preferred candidates after impressing selectors with his Army and journalism career.

In the past few days Mr Cameron accused Gordon Brown of being ‘petty’ and ‘spiteful’ in his criticism of the Eton background of senior Tory figures. The Conservative leader, himself an Old Etonian, warned the Prime Minister and First Secretary Lord Mandelson that their class war tactics would put off voters.

His comments came after Mr Brown’s comment this week that Tory tax policy seemed to have been ‘dreamed up on the playing fields of Eton’.

Mr Drax added that the rumour that Mr Cameron asked his politicians to drop their double-barrelled names was just a ‘throw away joke made nine months ago’.