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Breakfast with Frost Sunday, 9 June, 2002, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Interview with Iain Duncan Smith MP, Tory party leader
Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative party leader
Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative party leader

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

DAVID FROST: And joining me now is someone who many people thought should have been in the squad for Japan himself, you've seen the pictures of him, you've seen the pictures of him playing soccer just a few weeks ago, a natural born wizard of the soccer field, Iain you must have had a wonderful time?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: David if I was in the squad then we'd have been in deep trouble, I promise you. Oh it was fantastic, I watched it with my family and you know you had to peel us off the ceiling really when, when he scored. But I really thought, I was chatting to Bobby earlier on about this, I thought the best bit of it was the way England just played for each other, every single player in the team was disciplined, they played for each other, they knew where they were, they stayed disciplined and I have the huge respect for them now because under provocation after the match as we understand they were cool and they showed their real sportsmanship and didn't react to some of those comments.

DAVID FROST: So they, in terms of being disciplined, they, they behaved the way you would like your back-benchers to behave?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well football teams are perhaps easier to control than political parties, I'm sure the Prime Minister would agree with me, but yeah I think every team needs discipline and a sense of self-belief and that's important, that's what leadership's all about.

DAVID FROST: Absolutely, now you're going over to this conference in Washington which is bringing together 28 leaders I think and more than, more than that in countries... some of them have got elections on and so on. And this is the centre-right gathering to learn lessons, to spread the centre-right message wider?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Yes I think the IDU has been in existence for some time and it is a forum for the centre-right mainstream conservatives across the world to come together at regular intervals and discuss how we deal with issues that affect us all and this conference in Washington is going to be about that. The difference has been in the last ten years the centre-right has not been in charge in many places around the world but now we see a resurgence, Australia, United States, you know Italy, Spain, we see the beginnings of a real return in Germany and a number of other countries as well. So it's an opportunity for us to talk for those, to those in power and share their experiences, find out how they made I and what they did against, what essentially has been a big lie at the centre-left for too long.

DAVID FROST: Yes because they, they say that soccer mums are a target for the centre-right, this is what? This is mothers with relatively young children?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well it's, it's, I mean terminology changes but the same base remains, that's, you will know over the last 20 or 30 years that terminology changes but we know who we're talking to. What we're saying is that people who vote in accordance with what they see is going to be not just in their best interests but in interests of those around them. I summed this up the other day by saying the important thing for us is to understand that we must persuade people you describe, soccer mums but people who change their vote from election to election, that what we offer them is good for them and their families, choice in schooling, opportunity, better health care, all of that. But at the same time they're able to say and it's good for my neighbour too. So self interest becomes mutual self interest and that's the purpose of my politics which is that it's wider than just selfishness, it covers others as well and what they believe about what's good for other people who are not so well off.

DAVID FROST: Your director of strategy, Strategies Director Dominic Cummings was outspoken this week, did you, did you talk to him about it and encourage him to keep on doing that or encourage him to stop?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well all my advisors I talk to regularly and clearly what I think was being said is being said and is obviously being debated is what our position is and I'm absolutely clear about that, the party's clear about that, I settled it at the leadership election. As and when the Prime Minister has the guts to call the referendum instead of playing games with it we will campaign vigorously to oppose entry into the Euro.

DAVID FROST: But I mean the thing is that he said this thing about just about the only think less popular than the Euro is the Tory Party, implied you'll be taking a back seat or only a part in this campaign, surely you must lead this campaign as leader of the Tory Party aren't you going to lead it?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well David two things about that, the first is actually every political party is less popular than the pound, that's the one thing that comes out of this, the British people showed that the Jubilee and in their views about keeping their currency, they want to keep that and that's more popular, the pound is more popular than every political party including Labour. Now we'll get down to what we'll be doing and we made this absolutely clear and I'm happy to restate it, I will be at the head of my party leading my party when that moment comes and there will however be a coalition, we know that, there will be large numbers of the Labour Party, members of the Liberal Party, we also know that three quarters of the trade unions, three quarters of business in all the recent polling are opposed to getting rid of the pound, in other words they want to keep the pound. So there'll be a large number of people who will come together and we will all campaign to make sure but we will be very prominent and I will lead my party and that's clear in all of our views.

DAVID FROST: Who will be the overall leader then, the papers today are tipping David Owen?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Tactics as I know is a subject that every Westminster chattering class loves to discuss but I must tell you I do think the British people...I have no idea how all of that will work, all I know is this much, that there are more people in favour of keeping the pound than there are who actually want to scrap it and my party will be very prominent in that and all the rest is tactical discussion...

DAVID FROST: When do you think that moment will come Iain?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well the thing I say about...

DAVID FROST: Are you going to do it before Christmas?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: I don't know the Prime Minister plays games with this, I think the awful thing David is that the Prime Minister keeps on pretending that he's going to go for it then backs off then says he will, says he won't. My problem is look, if he wants to do it have the courage and the guts to do it, if h doesn't do what the public wants him to do which is sort out the failure in health, the failure in schools, chaos in transport and rising lawlessness on our streets, those are the real issues that I want to campaign on, what I'm not going to do is spend ages just talking about the Euro, I know that when that comes we will campaign hard against it but in the meantime the most important issues are those issues that affect people in their daily lives and the Prime Minister ought to sort the failure out there instead of playing games that distract attention by talking about the Euro.

DAVID FROST: And, and in terms, two, two separate editorials this week over the email business that ??? the Ministry of Transport. The Mirror, of all shabby, shameful, disgraceful, despicable political acts this was as bad as it gets. The Times, this is not a major scandal in any sense, much less a defining moment in British politics. And the Guardian said it was quite reasonable to ask about their political affiliation. Which do you go with?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Well I have to say that when you're dealing with rich people who go about their normal dail...working life, who suffer a terrible accident like this, who are scarred and hurt and many have died, I think it's insensitive, stupid and crass to start playing games with them as though they were political leaders like myself or politicians, these are ordinary people want something done, deal with them straight. If they have a complaint deal with the complaint, don't deal with the person, play the ball not the person and what we're getting from this government is such disdain for ordinary people that they actually try and crush them because they have the audacity to ask the government why it's failing and what it's done. I think that's shameful and I think frankly the government, the Prime Minister ought to apologise for that and ought to guarantee it will not happen again. I really do think that that is not the right way. The British people have a right to something better, decency and integrity and they're not getting it and I think politicians and the whole of the political process is demeaned when the government plays with people's lives like this, it's quite wrong. So they should apologise, the Prime Minister should do so himself and they should say look we'll never do this again and if anyone's caught being responsible for that then we'll sack them.

DAVID FROST: Well that's very strongly put and we thank you for being with us.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: It's a great pleasure.

DAVID FROST: And I hope you have a safe flight.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: On Wednesday morning, one o'clock.

DAVID FROST: Yep, will you be back by then?

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: Oh definitely, that's what we're coming back early to see.

DAVID FROST: Otherwise it would be an odd time.

IAIN DUNCAN SMITH: I want to watch that game no problem.

DAVID FROST: Absolutely, we'll all be there. Thank you very much indeed.


DAVID FROST: Iain Duncan Smith.


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