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Last Updated: Tuesday, 7 October, 2003, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
Hurd's Tory peace plan

By Nick Assinder
BBC News Online political correspondent in Blackpool

Iain Duncan Smith should lock himself in a hotel with his most senior Tory opponents and hammer out a peace plan for the party, according to former Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd.

Lord Hurd suggested the beleaguered Tory leader should take a group of his most senior critics - including Michael Portillo and Kenneth Clarke - to a hotel for a weekend to develop a fistful of policies they could unite around.

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith should call a peace summit
That, he suggested, should end the ceaseless "chatter" about the party leadership and allow it to concentrate on winning the next election.

His proposal came after the Tory grandee praised the similar step taken by President Bill Clinton to end the war in Bosnia a decade ago with the peace summit in Dayton, Ohio.

The warring parties had been locked in a unpleasant surroundings, provided with basic food and drink and told they had to stay there until the job was done.

Such a move might now work with the stalled Middle East peace process, he said, before going on to suggest something similar for the Tories.

Clear policies

He also compared Mr Duncan Smith's leadership to Ted Heath's in 1968-9 when there was criticism of his leadership and complaints that he presided over a cabinet few recognised.

But like his predecessor, he would overcome that, Lord Hurd said.

"He has been chosen and should bring people into some sort of compact.

"There should be a gathering in a hotel some weekend and these people should come and Iain Duncan Smith should establish four or five points where they agree.

"The policies should be clear things that we stand for positively," he said.

Refuse to serve

He excluded those from a "previous generation" such as Michael Heseltine and Geoffrey Howe and himself.

"I mean people active now who carry a certain political weight who are not using it in coordination with others for the success of the party," he said.

His remarks were a gentle rebuke to the likes of Mr Portillo and Mr Clarke who have said they would refuse to serve in Mr Duncan Smith's shadow cabinet.

But they were clearly intended as a positive suggestion for bringing an end to the damaging speculation about the leadership and the divisions within Tory ranks.

Lord Hurd, a leadership contender when Mrs Thatcher quit in 1990, also called on the party to unite behind Mr Duncan Smith, claiming he would lead them into the next general election.

Speaking at a conference fringe meeting, he also won applause for a plea for more genuine debate on the conference floor.

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