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Tory leadership contender Iain Duncan Smith
Tory leadership contender Iain Duncan Smith
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST HOSTED BY PETER SISSONS INTERVIEW: IAIN DUNCAN SMITH CONTENDER FOR THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADERSHIP JULY 22ND, 2001

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

PETER SISSONS: Well three weeks ago there were half a dozen folk running for the leadership of the Tory Party. Michael Portillo was the clear favourite, at one time the bookies stopped taking bets on him he looked such a cert. All that changed on Tuesday when Tory MPs voted to dump the former front-runner bearing out the old adage that in chasing the Conservative crown the early favourite never makes it to the finishing line. Now Iain Duncan Smith and Ken Clarke have the summer ahead to battle it out, with all card carrying Tories around the country having a chance to vote and Iain Duncan Smith is here. Good morning Iain.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Good to be here.

PETER SISSONS: And you and Ken Clarke agree on one thing, you both needed a holiday, what, what's the deal for the summer truce?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well it's, it's just a down time really for a couple of weeks, I mean I will still be here doing a few things, I've already arranged association visits talking to members but the idea is that we don't do a huge amount of media in that two weeks because we've all been on the go almost nonstop for about the last five months and I think a short break will probably help return us to some sanity I suppose.

PETER SISSONS: You get the better news this morning, there's a poll out which shows that a majority of constituency party chairmen back you, how do you read that?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: I don't really I just take the view that it's all to play for. I mean these sort of contests are, can turn on almost anything and so to be complacent about it or say well that's it, it's in the bag would be wrong, I mean I'm, still believe I'm the underdog, I'm somebody who would have least been expected to be here so I have probably the greatest ground to make up and so it's all about making people understand who I am I think.

PETER SISSONS: And the big question isn't is, one of you has got to lose, can the one left standing at the end of the fight unite the party or has it, have things gone too far now for there to be anything more than a wallpaper job?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: No I think this party does have come together, I think we have to have unity both of purpose and in a sense of who we are. I keep saying to my colleagues, look if you, if you agree with people for 80, 85 per cent of the time they're your colleagues and friends, we may disagree, there may be a minority who disagree about Europe but you know we agree together about an awful lot more so the purpose of unity is to bring people together so that we can focus. This country needs a decent opposition at this stage and an alternative government and it's my job as the leader, if I'm lucky enough to be there, to bring the party together and say let's go on to both oppose the government. I mean one of the areas David is, is the way the government¿Now Peter one of the biggest areas is that we have a problem here with the idea the government is telling everybody what they will have, when they can have it in the Health Service, in education, they're failing them. And you know this idea that we've got a ration-book state now with the government where they actually dictate to people. Now we have to be able to break through as Conservatives.

PETER SISSONS: These, these are, these are slogans aren't they, the practical matter is you're going to have people like Steven Norris saying he'll leave the party if you become leader. Portillo, Hague, Maude, Norman, Widdecombe on the back benches, they're not likely to want to serve you. Ken Clarke says those who think like you on Europe are headbangers, I mean the thing just runs so deep and is so vitriolic at the moment. What is the concrete formula that you have to stop all that and bring them all back into one tent.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Very simply leadership, honesty, integrity and leadership that says what we're going to be and how we're going to be it. For example on Europe you said quite rightly it's one of the biggest issues that's divided us. The answer to this is the majority of the party is settled, they don't want to enter the Euro and with me we will be led to oppose the Euro at the next referendum.

PETER SISSONS: But would you, if you lost, go off in a huff like others have done, or would you serve under Ken Clarke?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: No I will serve the party because it's¿

PETER SISSONS: But will you serve under Ken Clarke?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well it's only either Ken Clarke or me so it has to be under Ken but I mean my answer is, to this is if you have clear leadership, if the party has united once it's made a decision then everybody but everybody must get behind whoever it is leader and say now we must take the Labour Party on and the Liberal Democrats too who have got away with a whole pack of nonsense about who they are, pretending to be one thing and then another. Yes unite, absolutely, unity is important but under clear leadership.

PETER SISSONS: Like other rebels like Bill Cash you were a leading Maastricht rebel, is Maastricht closed as far as you're concerned or are you ready to push, if you have, if you're in a position to do so, for powers, for powers lost at Maastricht being repatriated to Britain. You did write in the Daily Telegraph some years ago, five years ago, the public is ready to go for Britain repatriating its powers from the EU which could eventually mean pulling out, do you, do you from that statement?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: I've always said quite clearly that the British public are settled in this position, they don't want to lose their democratic rights as a nation state. But they also, and this is where I'm very passionate about it, they actually want to have a cooperation with our friends and allies abroad based on trade and some legal aspects. What we don't want and I think this is where you're seeing the response in Ireland when they chucked out the Nice Treaty, you've had riots and various other problems. People want a sense of community and their nation, they don't want massive bureaucracies running their lives and that's the problem with the EU at the moment is that it cares very little about what ordinary people want and seems to be interested only in what bureaucracies want so we want to be able to make sure we retain the nation state as the guardian of all of those things.

PETER SISSONS: A couple of quick points, where do you stand on stripping Lord Archer of his peerage, would, would you let him sit on the Tory benches in the Lords?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: No I think what is clear now is there is an anomaly, in the House of Commons if you are convicted of a criminal offence you cannot retain your seat and I think there must be now some real rethink about what happens in the Lords but it's the legislature and I think anybody who's convicted of a criminal offence really clearly cannot have an effect on legislation. So however that is done I think it's important that if criminal offences, if you're convicted of a criminal offence I think you shouldn't be a legislator.

PETER SISSONS: And image, now like it or lump it in the United States for instance, as I'm sure James Rubin would have confirmed, bald politicians by and large do not get elected to high public office, they, there's more rugs on Capitol Hill then would fit on the floor¿

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: They must remain on the floor.

PETER SISSONS: What is your attitude to that, do you think that because you look a little bit like William Hague that is a real draw back?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well only in the hair line I have to say and I don't think it's a drawback. This is how we disenfranchise half the male population of Britain who are now told that they are ineligible. I'm always intrigued, I'm always told that we need tolerance and acceptance until we get to hairlines and suddenly there's no longer any tolerance. But look, you know, if you're the President of France it was de rigeur that you didn't have hair so it's quite, it's bizarre, let's deal with people, I mean I'm passionate about giving people more control over their own lives, more power, I don't think they're worried about hairlines, what they want to know is can they trust the person that they're looking at.

PETER SISSONS: And what John Lennon used to call hairpeace?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Yeah absolutely.

PETER SISSONS: Iain Duncan Smith thank you very much.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Peter thank you.

END












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