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Conservative leadership contender - Iain Duncan Smith
Conservative leadership contender - Iain Duncan Smith
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW:
IAIN DUNCAN SMITH MP CONSERVATIVE LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE SEPTEMBER 2ND, 2001

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

DAVID FROST:
Well it'll be ten days' time when it'll be all over, we'll know who Tony Blair's new despatch box sparring partner will be, if the polls are right it does look good, not all the polls but it does look good for Iain Duncan Smith the man backed by Lady Thatcher and Lord Tebbit among others. He's looking set to steer the Conservatives onwards for the next few years but it's not in the bag yet, a week is a long time in politics and there are conflicting polls as well, so let's talk to the man himself, Iain Duncan Smith has magically slid into the sofa while, while I was doing that introduction.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Morning David.

DAVID FROST:
Good morning, top of the morning to you.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:

And to you. DAVID FROST:
First of all, any specific reflection on what Steve has just said, Steve Norris has just said?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well I, I wish Steve and others would read what I have, read what I've said and what I've spoken about over the last five or six weeks and I just do think this party's got to stop playing games with the characterisations about right and left, I've yet to find out what this definition of right in their ideas has got to be. I mean the truth is I've done nothing but speak about, quite rightly, what we have to get on to which is reform of the public services, health, education, which is failing people dramatically and not just do more of me too, as Mr Blair's begins to flop around the place being bullied by the unions, that's where we've got to go and I've been there first, I've yet to hear anything like that from, you know, the other side on what they're going to do to reform health, not one word from them.

DAVID FROST:
And what about the issues we were just talking about, the things that you said to the Sunday Telegraph, a lot of people will feel it's very significant that you have entertained the thought of repealing Section 28 because you describe it as a totem?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well I've always said that the problem with something like that is that it becomes a totem rather than what it achieves and I, in the interview say, every parent wants to know that their children are protected against those who have a particular agenda because they're in a vulnerable state in school and out of the control of their parents until they get old enough to make decisions for themselves. So in essence that's what Clause 28 was about but I recognise, as I do in the interview, I always have done actually, it's nothing new, whatever Steve says, there's nothing new in that, that there are totems to this and you need to find a way of making one group feel less stigmatised but at the same time preserving what you think is best, which is that children do need to be protected from those in authority who may have another agenda. And I think every parent would agree with that and that's really what I've always been about and of course, like everything else we look and see if there are ways that we can do that.

DAVID FROST:
So, so what will you do, what will you do about Section 28 will you¿

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well as I said in the interview with Giles, I said you know we will look at this and discuss it as reasonable people and say are there ways in which we can retain what essentially the essence of it is all about but actually get rid of the idea that it focuses in or stigmatises one particular group. Protection is the key and that's what we've got¿but that's what any fair-minded person is going to¿and that's the other thing about this nonsense about lurching to the right or to the left¿The truth is Conservative Party is a right of centre party and it believes in strong discipline in schools, it also believes in freeing people up to take greater choice in their lives and has better economy so that they can actually have more of their own money. These are the sort of freedoms that we believe in so there isn't any sort of difference on that and we should stop pretending that there's some massive difference and schism.

DAVID FROST:
But, but everybody does see, not necessarily lurch to the right but when they go through the list of the issues and so on, that is a right-wing agenda?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well what is a right-wing agenda, you know a right of centre party has been elected in various other countries by believing in the things that I was talking about, the reason why we are Conservative is we disagree fundamentally what the Labour government is up to, you know they have been taxing people dramatically over the last four to five years, the economy is going to look rather shaky. We've got trade unions regaining their power and they told Mr Blair to get lost on health reform and took a million pounds away from them. We think that is all about a Labour government becoming locked into a centrist agenda, all about keeping power and stopping people having control and quality in their lives. Now we're against that, let's come together and unite and fight it. DAVID FROST:
What about, what about cannabis, you said you'll take a look at that too?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Of course we have to take a look at all this, I've always said that every parent who has a child worries absolutely sick about the idea of them taking drugs. I'm no different from anybody else in that respect and I look at it from the perspective of being a parent and you worry about that. But what you do say is, how do we protect them against what is essentially an evil and a scourge of our modern time and at the moment we have laws and those who want to change it, who argue that somehow it will all be improved by breaking that down, I say to them come forward with your case, let us see this, let us hear the full debate. You argue for that change if that's what you want and if it's a convincing case then any rational person will seriously look at it but unless it's convincing then we have to make do with what we've got and make sure that we stop people who delve into the problems with people's lives by selling these drugs. That's what any parent, I think, would say, and any rational human being would say, there's no lurches one way or the other, it's just common-sense really.

DAVID FROST:
And what about the, the row over race, Iain, it started obviously with the words of Andrew Lansley and it's been stoked up today by the words of Lord Taylor supporting Andrew Lansley and saying that, that you, that you were right in there, William Hague did nothing to correct this problem, he did his best to make ethnic minorities feel unwanted, says Lord Taylor, and then, Iain Duncan Smith as a member of the Shadow Cabinet his fingerprints are all over William Hague's leadership?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well you know I must say that Lord Taylor again, like everybody else, instead of reacting to what are instantaneous comments on the, on the media by commentators William had to go and read what I have said, and also for that matter would be will he read the comments of Nirj Deva who has been an MP and is now an MEP who's completely dismissed Lord Taylor's comments and who has been successful within the Conservative Party and is working very hard to bring the Asian vote back to the Conservatives and Asians to get on and become, you know, MPs and councillors.

DAVID FROST:
But you do need, you need black MPs?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Of course we do and no one is stronger on that, you know I stood in Bradford West, I have huge support in Bradford West, I launched my law and order speech in Bradford West surrounded by many, many friends from the Asian community who all believe that they want to be treated as equals, quite rightly. The Conservative Party has to do more to its structure to bring more in, to make sure that we have more opportunity to get them through as member of parliament, I want to do that as much if not more than anybody else but this idea that members of the party want to stigmatise the party. I can tell you something about this, I fought BNP in my constituency every election, they're loathsome people and I would do nothing to stop crushing these people and clear them out of politics and I have to say in East London and many of the cities up and down, it is Labour who has a problem with BNP because many of their votes come from their side of the fence. So this is not a problem alone for the Conservative Party, it's a problem for mainstream politics and what mainstream politicians should do is stop sniping at each other and say together that we will make sure that these sort of people do not find their way into politics whilst members of the BNP or supporters of their views, that's all I say and we can act on it.

DAVID FROST:
Do you mean you don't think there is slightly more racism within parts of the Tory Party than in the other two parties?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
No I think if you remember what went on in Tower Hamlets with the Liberal Democrats and some of the most foul racist literature that was being produced for their candidate, way back, then you will remember that every single party has always had a problem with people who have shown massive intolerance and the duty of that party is whilst a debate is always necessary, reasonable language needs to be used, the CRE said so, all these matters must be debated, you can't push them to the margins, main parties must do it but what we will be intolerant of is those who make this their badge, in other words that they only live for this sort of foul creed and I simply say debate is important, we encourage debate but as a Conservative Party we can't allow somebody to either be a member or associated with parties like this, that is against Conservative ideals.

DAVID FROST:
Do you think in talking to these people, has you had to do in the last few weeks, that in terms of nuance and meaning and so on that William's speech about, William's speech in fact in which he spoke about the foreign land was a mistake?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well actually that speech on foreign land, if you read it again, this is the intriguing thing, all of that was about Europe, about the incursion of Europe into the United Kingdom and taking away so much of our ability to govern ourselves, you know the loss of currency, the loss of tax, the loss of many of the powers and now we're seeing the Euro army. He was actually referring to the fact that if we're not careful the United Kingdom will lose its ability to govern itself. It was not in any way referring, at any stage in that speech, and I remember reading it very carefully, to any aspects of ethnicity. You know William and many others have fought very hard to make sure that we get more people from the ethnic community in and as Nirj says today, Nirj Deva he says they don't really want to be treated as something separate, they want to be part, quite rightly, of a process because they're British and have every right to be seen as the mainstream of politics leading the way and I'm absolutely passionate about that happening.

DAVID FROST:
And what would you say, Iain, what is the magic X factor, what is the quality, what is the characteristic that will make you, if you become leader of the Conservative Party, more successful, less unsuccessful than William Hague, what's the difference that will pay off for the Conservatives?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well I think the opportunity has arisen for us, I mean we have a Labour government now which is frankly immensely unpopular, I mean I know that Steve said that somehow we suffered a defeat as bad as '97, the truth is that actually Labour suffered a defeat as well at the last election, they lost a large number of votes. The problem for us is how do we get those people to recognise that the Conservative Party is relevant again and what I will do is say to my party, we now must be obsessed with the issues that obsess British people, health, education, the environment, the things that they think that for too long we don't care about and that's the real problem and challenge.

DAVID FROST:
But how will you be different from William Hague?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Because I'm going to take my party fore-square straight into those issues, it's me that's made speeches about radical reform of health and about welfare, education and the environment. And Friends of the Earth referred to my speech on the environment as compelling, the most compelling made by a Conservative for a long time and I want my party to be seen like that, obsessed about those issues and we will be, that's the characteristic of my leadership.

DAVID FROST:
And what about the 40 per cent figure of GDP that states spending, would you, would you like to see that 30 per cent or 35?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
I have no set figure in my head but I do recall John Major had a figure in his head of around 35 per cent, these are aspirations. What you try to say is look, every nation that is successful tends to be a lower tax, lower spend nation where people spend more on the things they need like health and education and the balance has got to be that the state does have to do something but as Keith Joseph said, there are limits sometimes to the good the state can do but often no limit to some of the damage it can do if it goes into the wrong areas. And so the balance for Conservatives has always been getting the right mix between what people keep for themselves and spend because I trust people frankly to be much more constructive than governments are about looking after their families and the balance is therefore right because if you over-tax the economy then what happens very quickly is you trap everybody, both in dependency and then into almost perpetual recession because nobody has enough money to generate the economic performance that's necessary to keep the economy going.

DAVID FROST:
And, and what about, looking at other areas, I suppose you think that defence spending should go up?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
I certainly think that this government now has been deeply cynical about defence because they've been slashing the defence budget but they don't hesitate to pick British troops to go abroad to almost anything, I mean it was the last CDS that you had here on the couch before he retired who said, you know that, they're now deployed doing things like tea and sympathy all over the world but they don't train because there's not enough time to train and they don't see their families. So the balance has got to be either we cut back on the amount of deployments they have which I think is very important to do, to look again very seriously at what we do and if that's not possible then government, this government, I urge them, to think again about their plans to reduce spending even further on defence, you can't have it both ways and I'm going to review all of that quite urgently when I get in.

DAVID FROST:
One last question, how do you just in a word, a few words, how do you sum up the fact that a lot of people say that looking at the votes for leadership, 50 per cent of them are people over 70 and male and then, and then 50s and 60s and that the young are not interested and so on, how will you convince us that you are speaking to the entire nation and just, not just to a right-wing core?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH:
Well I just don't think there is a right-wing core that you can speak to, you frankly, you know just don't have a vote if that's the case. We have to speak to the whole nation and most of the nation is not political, it simply wants to know how are you going to improve the quality of their life and give them more choice in their lives and I'm simply going to say to them, come with us and we're going to enthuse you, we are going to have a radical process of change, the most radical, the most exciting since the last Conservative government came in in '79, to show you how we'll improve your lives for the better.

DAVID FROST:
Iain thank you for being with us this morning. Iain Duncan Smith.

END


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