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BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: STEVE NORRIS AND SIR TEDDY TAYLOR MP JULY 15TH, 2001
Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used
DAVID FROST: And now we're going to hear from the other two parties in this great, in this great struggle. Over here we have Steve Norris on the couch, Steve who's supporting Michael Portillo and Sir Teddy Taylor who is supporting Iain Duncan Smith. First, first comment from you Steve, we've been hearing a lot this morning about Michael Portillo, so it's only fair to give you the first chance to respond.
STEVE NORRIS: Well, I mean certainly as far as what Ann what was just saying I rather agree with her. I think the whole point is to pick a winner. And I think, you know, when you look at the results in 2001 it's pretty clear that if all we do is to replicate that we're not likely to run any more successful next time than we have this time. I agree with her that I think, you know, Iain Duncan Smith's a splendid chap, so is Ken Clarke, so is Michael Portillo. That's not really the issue. The issue is what kind of direction the party ought to be taking...
DAVID FROST: And why did you therefore choose...people would have thought you probably would have, if they were guessing, that you were going to do, probably do what Ann did and come out for Ken Clarke.
STEVE NORRIS: Yes, I must say I have a lot of time for Ken Clarke. But I do happen to think that you don't have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. And I think asking the Conservative Party to take the kind of line that Ken takes on Europe, and seems, incidentally, to insist on taking without the slightest hesitation, this is it, take it or leave it, sort of thing, is just asking too much. But what I do think we've got to do and frankly I doubt there can be much argument about it given the result that we got on the 7th of June, is to re-think the way that we look, the way that we appear to relate to huge sections of the British electorate because the one thing no Conservative member of parliament or member of the party can afford to forget is that in 1992 we had 14.3 million people vote for us under John Major. This time round it was down to 8.6. Ask yourself where half the votes have gone and you are, I think, three quarters of the way towards selecting the new leader.
DAVID FROST: Frank Johnson wrote this rather wickedly in the Telegraph yesterday: Michael Portillo has seemed to countenance the legislation, legislation of cannabis, the repeal of section 28, and equivocated when asked about gay marriages. What is he campaigning for, artistic director of the royal ballet? I tend to share these views but I'm not standing for leadership of the Tory Party. Isn't this the heart of the issue?
STEVE NORRIS: It's interesting, isn't it, that Frank in the midst of a no doubt very witty piece, says, I tend to share his views. I mean, I suspect that the rest of the population think that a Tory Party that seems to be obsessed by this kind of issue, constantly finding people to be angry with, constantly, you know, being aggressive, even on Europe, you know, looking, not sounding principled about the democratic deficit which is what we should be doing, but sounding as if all we want to do is wrap ourselves up in a Union Jack. You know I think this is precisely the point, this is not just about style, it is very much about content. It is making sure that we're a party that doesn't just talk about appealing to every Briton but actually cares about every person in this country regardless of where we come from and is prepared to represent them.
DAVID FROST: Not just style but content. Teddy, your reaction to what we've just heard.
TEDDY TAYLOR: Well, basically the problem, everyone knows we've got a terrible problem in the party and I think the biggest problem we had was the local and during the elections so many people saying they didn't believe a word that any politician said. What we've got to go for is truth and integrity and I honestly feel that Iain Duncan Smith is a person who doesn't go around slinging around muck, doesn't go around bashing other politicians but someone who basically is concerned with telling the truth. Second we've got to sort out Europe, it's a terrible problem that's torn the party apart. I think he's got the right way of clarity and tolerance because what he's done basically to say that the Conservative Party will be officially opposed to the single currency but on the other hand those who take a different view sincerely during the referendum campaign can obviously go their own way and then come back. It's a far better policy than the old John Major way of chucking people out of the party if they don't agree. And thirdly we've got to have real answers to the big issues that are worrying people, like schools. I mean so many people are living in areas where there's a school which is not good. What do we do for them? Iain Duncan Smith's got great ideas which seem to provide an answer not just more giving people an opportunity of having freedom of choice. And I think he's the right answer. And quite honestly I'm an old stager, as you know, I'm not part of the campaign. I've got a feeling if we don't go for Iain Duncan Smith as a straight, honourable person, who's going to put issues across without going on party bashing all the time, I don't think we'll succeed. I think this is the way forward.
DAVID FROST: But do you think the party can unite behind whoever wins, Teddy, I mean, could the party unite behind Ken Clarke, or behind Michael Portillo?
TEDDY TAYLOR: The difficulty with Ken Clarke and everyone knows this is some of the things he did in the past like the Health Service weren't a great success and also I think his views on Europe don't coincide with the views of the average Conservative voter. A very clever chap, I don't doubt that. But I honestly think if you have Iain Duncan Smith concentrating on using the secret weapon of politics which is telling the truth, the Tories can rise and the only thing I would say is if you look round the places we did particularly well, it wasn't the places where people said the bad weather was because of the terrible Tory, Labour government. It was because basically we were telling people the truth, giving them good service and trying to solve problems. I honestly think that for the party to find the way forward and the way up, the only way is to concentrate on telling the truth, not going round attacking the government every second of the day, telling people the truth and giving the answer, the real answer to real problems.
DAVID FROST: That was Ken Clarke, what about Michael Portillo, can you see the party uniting behind him, if he wins.
TEDDY TAYLOR: I think that we could all unite, the only thing, I don't mean this in any way unduly critical, he's a very good chap and I feel sorry for him at times, the only thing is that he seems to be going for the spin, the politics, you know I can be a, sort of, Tory Tony Blair, I can be more clever, that's not the way forward. I think the way forward is the way of saying, what are the real issues. Tell people the truth, don't try and say what are the figures for 1997 that compare with 2001, try and find the truthful answer and I think certainly, I have no doubt at all, if he was in charge we'd probably win some seats, but what's the crusade about. And the crusade for the Conservatives is finding real solutions to people's real problems. It's telling the truth and getting back to the times when people knew that if you had a Conservative government, when they went on radio or television you could believe what they said. They weren't spin doctors.
DAVID FROST: Well thank you both. One last question, just briefly, which is do you you think the Amanda Platell diary will have any affect on this vote?
STEVE NORRIS: I don't know whether they will have any affect but I don't believe a word of it. I'd much sooner believe people like David Liddington, George Osborne who are very close to William Hague who say that there was no evidence whatever of all of this alleged plotting that Amanda is obviously going to make some money out of. But that's down to her.
TEDDY TAYLOR: There's too much nonsense. Look at this latest story of saying that Mrs Thatcher's going one way. It's totally untrue. I think we should do a special inquiry for the Frost programme, where did this story come from because it's a load of nonsense.
DAVID FROST: Right, well we'll happily get a unit underway. Thank you both very much indeed.
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