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EDITIONS
Sunday, 13 October, 2002, 11:33 GMT 12:33 UK
Sunday 06 October 2002
Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative party leader
Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative party leader

Sunday 6th October 2002

On the eve of the Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, Sir David interviewed the Leader of the Opposition, Iain Duncan Smith MP.

In the run-up to the conference, Mr Duncan Smith has been criticised by senior figures in the party, including the former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke - who said it was time for the Conservative Party to "get our act together". There's also been speculation about a possible leadership challenge.

But Mr Duncan Smith dismissed the idea, insisting he would lead the Conservatives into the next General Election. "I am here to lead the party and I am going to lead the party, because this party has to follow the strategy that I have set out, because there is no other way."

He went on: "The strategy I have set out is the strategy we will pursue. There is no magic wand. We must get the trust of the people back again and to do that we have to show there is a genuine alternative. I intend to take us to the General Election on that basis."

Mr Duncan Smith talked about a number of policies on "quality of life" issues, such as crime, education and health, to be unveiled during the conference.

"The principle that will run through everything we do this week is that we think the Government has taken more and more power away from schools, parents, doctors, nurses and patients," he said. "We are going to reverse that process."

Sir David was also joined by the Northern Ireland Secretary, Dr John Reid MP, to discuss the latest crisis in the Northern Ireland peace process.

"I think we are at a stage which is not only serious, or grave as the Irish Prime Minister said in the last three days. I think this is at a critical stage."

Dr Reid talked about the police investigation into an alleged IRA spy operation inside the Northern Ireland office.

"I am passionate about this peace process but I cannot keep it going when there is a prima facie case, when these sort of things are happening, coming on top of the Colombia adventure, the burglary in Castlereagh, the charges being brought against an individual for targeting and now this."

Dr Reid said Republicans must give assurances that they will abandon all paramilitary activity.

"People are trying to ride two horses here," he said. "We need some straight answers in the coming weeks and we need to know from Sinn Fein and the Republican Movement that this has stopped, that there will be no more of this."

Sir David's other guests were Mike Tomlinson, Chairman of the inquiry into the down-grading of some of this year's Al-level results, and Roy Hattersley, the former deputy leader of the Labour party. The Sunday newspapers were reviewed by the actress Nichola McAuliffe and the political editor of the Guardian, Michael White.

Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative party leader

John Reid MP, NI secretary and Roy Hattersley, former deputy Labour leader

Mike Tomlinson, chairman, A-level inquiry


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