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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 09:51 GMT 10:51 UK
Conservative leadership: Your reaction
Iain Duncan Smith has been a declared the new leader of the Conservative Party.

He received 155,933 votes, 61% of the total against 100,864 , 39%, given to his rival, the former cabinet minister Kenneth Clarke.

Will he make a good leader and can he unite the party? What will this mean for the UK's relations with Europe?

Is he the man to win power back for the Conservative Party after two huge election defeats?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

Don't write him off too soon

I used to be a Tory voter and party worker (in my own time and without payment). John Major was the final straw and I left. Hague was not convincing but IDS has the opportunity to bring me back into the Conservative fold. I think it's interesting the amount of opposition on this site from people who oppose him, claim to support Labour or the hard left in the form of the Lib Dems but who choose to live abroad. IDS has the team, the ideas and time on his side. Also he is appears to be a man of honour, Don't write him off too soon.

Why is it that everyone says the Conservatives will only appeal to the older generations now? I have just turned 18 and now feel inclined to join IDS in his party and so have many of my other friends. Everyone is saying that the party should change, but what is the point in abandoning the things that you believe in just so you can appeal to a wider audience and look good in the tabloids? Thank God someone is sticking to their principles unlike the Labour Party, so-called 'Party of the Workers'.
Adam, UK

I think IDS will be a great success as leader of the Tories. He is actually one of the few politicians who is straight with the public and is not afraid to tell people where he stands on certain issues, unlike Mr Blair, who can't give a straight answer to even the simplest of questions.
Charles, England

Bland replaced with bland!

Nick, UK
Bland replaced with bland! When are they going to find a true leader capable of rousing support from the British public? Quite frankly the Conservative party may as well give up any hopes of winning any future elections until they find someone who can command the respect of the people of this nation.
Nick, UK

Forget IDS - it's the return of Michael Howard that made me choke on my cornflakes. I can hear Paxman's knuckles cracking in anticipation...
Tim, UK

The Liberals took a century off, now it's the Conservatives turn.
Andrew Cover, UK

IDS is the man

Russ, UK
IDS is the man. He and his allies were the only ones talking sense in those lousy Major years. They've caused a revolution in the party and now everything that's Tory is about to change. It's about time that they cleaned the slate, and under IDS, they will.
Russ, UK

This is so like the actions of the extreme left during the Thatcher years that the parallel is unavoidable. The only problem for the Tories is that where Labour replaced Foot with the more moderate Kinnock, the Tories have replaced Hague with their equivalent of Arthur Scargill.
Guy Chapman, UK

I am not a traditional Tory voter but this guy has the ability to change my mind. He could well become a great 'people man' and I wish him all the best.
AH, Scotland

If these few contributors really believe that IDS will win an election and take this country forward, they've gotta be ga-ga. And as for the talk of him dealing with and improving public services. Hah! The Tories are now rabidly right-wing but caring liberals, is that right? Shurely shome mishtake?
Randy, UK

Ken Clarke was the best leader the Conservative Party never had

Sheila Simpson, Wales
I can only echo the sentiments of many of those who have commented before me, that Ken Clarke was the best leader the Conservative Party never had. The only question now is where will those who are naturally inclined to vote Conservative find a new home?
Sheila Simpson, Wales

IDS is definitely a nice guy, he simply has no chance as a leader with Ancram and Davis backing him. Both are extremists and are detested by the Tory centre. I believe the party will now split and the Liberals take over as main opposition. In any case Labour's commanding lead as a party will not be touched for another ten years
Gerald Fenech, Malta

As a British citizen of ethnic minority extraction, I have followed the Conservative Party leadership elections with great interest. I believe that IDS should be given a chance. I believe strongly in what he stands for namely: a strong family life, less interference by the Government in our lives, responsibility for one's actions, reward for hard work, less taxation and the reduction in the dependence on the welfare state and of course tightened and controlled immigration. Enough of this political correctness. IDS is what this country needs to put the "Great" back into Britain.
Yagazie Nwaigwe, London, UK

Well, this will guarantee another safe term in power for Labour! I should be happy about that but in fact it doesn't make any difference. I agree with Andy McDonald, we desperately need some new parties in the UK; we have three right-wing parties to choose from. Somebody please set up a credible socialist party that believes in taming market forces. That's what we wanted when we voted Labour in, not another Tory party in disguise.
Claire, UK

It doesn't matter who won the vote this time

Fred, USA
It doesn't matter who won the vote this time. When the next election takes place Mr. C. Patten will be in charge of the Tories. Least ways that's probably the only way they will ever get back into power.
Fred, USA

IDS may have a huge mandate from the Conservative Party but he's not going to get one from the British electorate.
Ian Marlow, England

When I heard the news I was delighted. Kenneth Clarke would have been an able and popular leader. The Tories have just shot themselves in the foot again and made themselves unelectable for years.
Roy Brookes, Hamburg, Germany

You have no idea what you have let yourselves in for

Frank Wilhoit, USA
You have no idea what you have let yourselves in for. Duncan Smith will import American advisers and American methods, and he will win the next election by demagoguery that will leave your entire social fabric shredded, as ours has been. Labour will have 90 seats after the next election.
Frank Wilhoit, USA

There's no difference between the 3 main parties. Whoever leads them doesn't matter. They just wear different clothing to make it look like we have a democracy in this country. The majority of voters don't even know what they're voting for. Some new political parties are badly needed.
Andy MacDonald, UK

IDS represents an appreciation for the core values of all that makes the UK proud. His wider vision of associating himself strongly with our Anglo cousins across the Atlantic and beyond before this incident is more than commendable; his disapproval of the UK in the EU and enthusiasm for NAFTA makes him an attractive political alternative to the undemocratic structures of the EU.
M L Stewart, Switzerland

Mr Duncan Smith has to be given a fair a chance to lead the Conservatives away from the bitter infighting and has I believe the right temperament to do so. He must be allowed to have a fair crack of the whip though if he is to be able to make any significant inroads into the huge Labour majority.
Richard Berry, London, UK

They are trying to emulate something that never existed

Chris Manners, London
I am not a Tory supporter but I am saddened by the result. To be well governed, we need a strong opposition. The Tories have chosen ideological purity above everything else. Unlike Labour, they've never had a serious debate about what politics post-Thatcher might mean. The crowning irony is that even Thatcher herself was pragmatic in government. They are trying to emulate something that never existed.
Chris Manners, London

He fits his Little England party and is its logical leader. The Thatcher endorsement says it all. The Conservatives have consistently stuck to the myth of a Thatcherite Golden Age and have failed to recognise that the popular sentiment in our increasingly diverse and socially liberal country has moved on. The party has dwindled rapidly in size and importance from the Thatcher years as the middle classes and the young have rejected the muddled, jingoistic old style thinking that Conservatism has come to represent. IDS may do well with the tweed and twinset groupies but can he really inspire a generation of young affluent people to see him as a reformer, a statesman or even an able administrator? As an ex-pat voter with a healthy income, I guess I should have been easy prey for the Tories - I'll be voting Lib Dem.
Martin Searle, Thailand

Terry Davies comments are extremely interesting. If he thinks that this overall "decline" in just about everything in this country has more to do with five years of Labour than with 18 years of the Tories then it's not hard to see why people like that would think that IDS is even remotely electable. They are obviously so insular and blinkered that they have no idea about the real world
Graeme, England

As a former Conservative voter who switched over to Labour at the 97 election I think the Tories are on a gradual decline into minor party status. They have to reconnect with the mainstream in British politics if they are ever going to get back into power. The OAP tory party may be anti-European, but the young people aren't!
Andy G, UK

Well it's goodbye to the Tories, I thought they couldn't do any worse when they elected William Hague as leader, but no they've done even better this time with IDS - hello oblivion.
Terry, UK

This result only goes to show that the grassroots of the Tory party are as out of touch with reality as their MP's. This is a great result for the Lib Dems who must now be looking forward to replacing the Tory party as the official opposition at the next election.
Mike F, UK

The Tories haven't learned the lesson have they? They lost the election and Hague resigned because they barked up that anti-European right wing tree. Ken Clarke would have taken them into the opposite direction, so would have Portillo - but what do they do? Vote in Thatcherite No.2 - what a great plan - well done! So, move further to the unpopular right, further alienate the public. It's amazing that the Tories are so far unaligned with the voting public. IDS will take them into the wasteland. Charles Kennedy - your time is rapidly approaching!
David White, Dorset, UK

As Pete Townsend once wrote:- "Meet the new Boss, same as the old Boss" Appropriately the song was - "Won't Get Fooled Again". The Tories are fooling no one, this guy is another Thatcher in drag. When will they learn that the country has moved on. Their only potential candidate who could have threatened Blair was Portillo and they didn't give him a chance.
George, UK

Give IDS a chance first before lambasting him. At least Clarke wasn't chosen. The man has no morals. He accepts the tobacco industry's money knowing full well its deadly product maims, kills and causes untold misery. I should know, my father died prematurely. He was a smoker and New Zealand has the courage where doctors put on the death certificates death by "whatever" and other smoking related diseases.
Ex-pat Bob, New Zealand

What worries me more is not the choice of leader, in that I am sure IDS is capable of doing a good job and he appears to be a decent, principled man on the whole. Rather that he has failed to take the opportunity in creating his first shadow cabinet to present something fresh, appealing and electable.

Some of the old big names who are there are very much part of the reason the Tories were voted out last time. Many of the new faces are known previously only because of their extreme views and disloyalty to the party in the past. IDS could have been inclusive in the parliamentary party, presenting an open, inclusive, appealing front to the country. Instead it seems he has chosen to reward and surround himself with his plotting pals of 8-9 years ago.
Adam, UK

I'm sure Tony Blair cannot believe his own good fortune

Andre Janse van Vuuren, South African in UK

This vote has secured that the Tories will not be taken serious by another generation of voters. I predict another Labour landslide in 2005, with more people abstaining from the polls. I'm sure Tony Blair cannot believe his own good fortune with these "blessings" that the Tories bestow upon him.
Andre Janse van Vuuren, South African in UK

Whilst I believe IDS should be given time to prove his critics wrong, I do think at this stage he is the wrong choice. Once again the Tory 'man of the people' Ken Clarke has been rejected. Clarke must surely go down in history as the best man never to lead the party. Will they ever learn?
Matt, UK

Thank goodness it was not Clarke

Wendy, UK
Thank goodness it was not Clarke. An arrogant man who looks down his nose as he speaks to people. Give IDS a chance, he appears as a breath of fresh air and a gentleman.
Wendy, UK

The main problem with this choice is that it was left to the party to decide, who have an average age of 65 and are generally right wing, which does not reflect the greater country at all. If it had of been left to the MP's to decide, they had the foresight to see that Ken Clarke and a move to the centre would have been the party's only chance....oblivion is nigh!
James Mant, Portsmouth, UK

Whatever we think of the new elected leader of the Conservative party, He's there and that's that. I hope now that all the Tories will rally behind him and get this spineless, liberal bunch of incompetents out of office. The country is declining in all aspects of decency, pride and morality. Health, Education transport are all in crisis, and if we do not stem the flow of immigrants, legal or otherwise into this country, we we will have no National identity ever again.
Terry Davies, England

The wrong choice: Iain Duncan Smith will provide an ineffectual opposition to Labour, leaving them to happily blunder on as they are.
Wendy S, UK

The members of the Tory party have once again demonstrated how out of touch they are with the rest of the country. Clarke was the most popular Tory, to the voters in general, yet the members vote for IDS. I doubt that I will vote Tory again.
Michael, UK

Iain Duncan Smith is a man of solid principles who will provide superb leadership for the Tories

Martin Curtis, UK
Iain Duncan Smith is a man of solid principles who will provide superb leadership for the Tories. He was the only candidate to put any real meat into the areas of policy that the Conservatives must now focus on - public services. That is why he achieved this overwhelming result. The Conservatives have a man of real credibility as leader, with a huge mandate from the Conservative Party using the most democratic Leadership election process of any party in the UK. This compares with a leader of no principle a misguided passion for red-tape and manipulation whom 75% of the country believe is smarmy. Election 2005 can't come soon enough.
Martin Curtis, UK

Although a traditional Tory, I am not a member of the Conservative Party and was therefore unable to vote in the leadership election. I have voted conservative since I was able to vote. Albeit that a democratic voting method was carried out, for which the Conservatives cannot be criticised, the massive leap to the right that the party has taken will make it unelectable to the mass population of the country. These votes are essential if the Tories are to get back into power. It is sad that Tony Blair will breathe a big sigh of relief. I believe that this heralds a new era, when the Conservatives will be doomed to become a minority party. How sad.
Jonathan Henson, Scotland

What amazes me is the sheer margin of his victory. To think that there are so many people out there who share his extreme views is frankly quite scary.
Janet Gladstone, UK

Out of touch, out of date, out of power

David, England
Why swap one uninspiring, Thatcherite, right-wing, Eurosceptic unknown for another? The party of pensioner politics again demonstrates that it only listens when talking to itself and only agrees when listening to itself. Out of touch, out of date, out of power.
David, England

Isn't it fascinating how a significant number people are writing off a person they know little or nothing about. IDS was an unknown a few months ago. I would suggest that any pre-conceptions or prophecies about what he will or will not achieve are at best, imprudent, at worst - reckless.
Matthew, UK

While I disagree with just about all his political views and fervently hope he never becomes Prime Minister, I do have to say that at least IDS comes across as an honest man of integrity. Unlike just about all of his colleagues, on both sides of the house! I don't agree with his policies, but at least he's honest about them!
Rob, UK

As a former full time Tory agent I cannot believe the direction the Party has taken. Following the rudderless years of Major's so called "leadership" we had Hague who jumped from one bandwagon to another. Now the membership have voted for an extreme right winger the Tory party can look forward to a generation in the wilderness.
John, England

With this vote we now have a clear choice at the next election of right-wing loonies or mainstream control freaks. I'll be spoiling my ballot again then....
Hugo Hutchison, UK

As much as I would love to write him off, I can't. I can immediately think of two other non-charismatic third choice right-wingers who have led their parties to power - George W. Bush in the US (a poor runner-up to John McCain in the nationwide popularity stakes) and John Howard in Australia (lost one election and one leadership election and still became PM). Fourteen Pints Billy was a pushover but having extremist views and no personality isn't a bar to success if the Government is on the nose. Labour now needs to clean its act up.
David, London, England

The gloating of those on the left sickens me. Do they seriously enjoy watching democracy crumble? Tony Blair has now succeeded in manipulating the leadership election of a once great Conservative Party. I for one will not enjoying watching the Lib Dems become the major opposition as they are merely Labour's lapdogs and will do anything to keep them in power. The left seem to enjoy the prospect of a one-party state. IDS will ensure even greater disillusionment in British politics and Blair's continuing mismanagement of the country.
Stuart Bate, England

As a young member of the party I was shocked at the two awful choices we had. When we wanted to move to the centre ground we had the most extreme two options imaginable. The MPs got rid of the best and most central candidate in Portillo!! I hope, for the sake of the party and Britain, IDS does well. I think, however, until we get someone with charisma I'll have to put up with Tony for a while yet.
Dave Massingham, England

Don't write him off before he's even started his job

CNS, Durham, England
Please give Ian Duncan-Smith a chance. Whether or not the Conservative party members made the right choice, he's what we've got now, and it's in the interests of democracy that he does the job to the best of his ability. Don't write him off before he's even started his job.
CNS, Durham, England

Fantastic news. Yet again the Tories have got it wrong! IDC has a charisma by-pass.
Sean, Ireland.

The Conservative Party never fail but to plump for the weakest candidate when electing a leader. Portillo could have led them back into government. Clarke would almost certainly have made them popular again. IDS, by contrast, is too far on the Right to ever gain a parliamentary majority or combat voter antipathy. Only disastrous mistakes by Labour and the Lib Dems will ever propel the Tories back into Downing Street.
Chris Denton, UK

I come from a long line of Tory supporters but am myself totally disillusioned with all politicians. Saying this, though, I feel that out of all of the three parties the only leader I could vote for would be Ian Duncan Smith. Had Kenneth Clarke been voted into the Tory leadership I can honestly say that I wouldn't be voting at all.
P, England

Great news for British politics! With the Tories sliding further away from the public there is now a real chance sensible political debate with the Liberal Democrats in opposition. I'm fed up of the "I'm right and you're wrong" attitude of the Conservative party who have no idea how to be constructive.
Jonathan, UK

Clearly the Conservatives have not learned from the past and are happy to pass into history. Tony B must be very happy with their choice. Time for a new party behind Ken
Abbott, UK

As far as I can see, it's just William Hague without the irritating voice. Didn't the Conservatives learn anything from the last election?
Julie, UK

I was unfortunate enough to grow up through the "Thatcher years" but I'm delighted to see that my son won't have to suffer a similar fate! The Tories are totally unelectable - choosing someone with the "values", if they can be called that, of Iain Duncan Smith as leader just shows how out of touch they all are - long may he reign!!!
Catherine Cox, Nottingham, England

Unlike many of your younger writers, I have lived long enough to see many people 'written off' in the press who later turn out to be really famous and successful. Only history will be able to judge if IDS was the right or wrong choice. He must have something to be elected an MP in the first place and to receive so many votes in all the rounds of the election. Never, never write anyone off.
Anthony, England

A result which clearly shows just how out of touch grass roots Tories really are. A resounding defeat at the polls and they go straight out and elect someone with even less chance of winning the next election than William Hague. Presumably the Tories are pinning all their hopes on Labour's prospective mismanagement of the economy and country to get them back into power. Sadly, not as forlorn a hope as some might think!
Shaun, Teignmouth

Ken Clarke could have made me vote Tory. However, with IDS as party leader I will happily give my vote to the liberal democrats, who have now got the chance they richly deserve, to become the opposition to the Labour government. I think that Conservative supporters can be proud that they have elected a leader who is wholly unelectable! We can look forward to a Labour government for a long time to come....
D Rose, Japan

Of course he is the right choice! Only when this politically correct country wakes up from this sick affliction it has caught can this once great nation rise from the ashes. The Conservatives have throughout British politics been the only party to achieve this.
Mark, England

It would be a fool who writes off the Conservative party

Jonathan Sheppard, London, UK
It would be a fool who writes off the Conservative Party. In 1992 everyone suggested the Labour party could never hope to win power again and look at their levels of support now. The time for naval gazing for all Tories will come to an end and like a phoenix out of the ashes the Conservative party will rise again. It is essential for the country and democracy to have a strong and vibrant opposition which is what the Conservatives can now offer.
Jonathan Sheppard, London, UK

Given that the choice was IDS or a man who would have caused the Conservative Party to disintegrate, there was no choice. That said IDS is clearly an intelligent, competent, committed man who, I firmly believe, will prove a great and reforming party leader and, in time, a great and reforming PM.
Daniel Kitto, UK

Tony Blair need not make any other plans for the next 20 years.
Roy Wolstenholme, USA

This is the biggest joke since they elected William Hague!

Atif Siddiqi, London, UK
This is the biggest joke since they elected William Hague! I will never vote for the Tories again. Their views are totally outside the mainstream and they have handed Tony Blair his third term. Well done.
Atif Siddiqi, London, UK

Let us judge the man on his merits. Is it right to condemn him before he has demonstrated his abilities (or not)?
Heather Adams, USA

This is great news for me as a socialist - it means that the Tory party will never win another election!
Joshua Watters, Great Britain

IDS is an honest and decent man who will work for the benefit of the whole population, not just the metropolitan intelligentsia

Vaughan Smith, UK
Mr Blair will say anything to be elected. By contrast IDS has principles and sticks to them. He's an honest and decent man who will work for the benefit of the whole population, not just the metropolitan intelligentsia. How the media will sneer! Let's hope the public have more sense, and form their own views.
Vaughan Smith, UK

I am not sure if he is the RIGHT man! Depends on the europhiles? If they now leave the Party then the Conservatives will continue taking the RIGHT directions towards political oblivion.
Eric Connor, Belgium (UK citizen)

The historical nickname for the Tory Party was 'the Stupid Party'. With this result they have finally earned it.
Richard , London

IDS is Tory leader! That's another 10 years of Labour government
Mark O'Brien, UK

I am very pleased to see that so many Conservatives have plumped for their weakest option - a second rate William Hague

Malcolm Parker, UK
As a staunch Labour supporter I am very pleased to see that so many Conservatives have plumped for their weakest option - a second rate William Hague. This is the best possible result for the Liberal Democrats who can now go on to form an effective opposition while the dinosaur that was the Tory party continues on what now must become a slow road to extinction.
Malcolm Parker, UK

As a floating voter, I'm delighted that IDS has won. The Tory Party stands on the edge of a precipice, and I'm counting on him to lead them in the right direction!
Julian Meldrum, England

Good luck to him. Does this mean that the Conservatives do not sit with the pro-federalist PPE group in Europe?
Pete Wilson, France

With Iain Duncan Smith as Tory leader, we can look forward to a new, fresh face as leader of the opposition. His name is Charles Kennedy.
Sean Ellis, Farnham, Surrey

As an ex patriot, I am delighted that another right winger is to lead the Tory Party. I was a true-blue until the Thatcher years, and I have watched with delight at the Tories' demise. Having a rightwing in leadership will ensure that the Tories lose further ground to the centre. A great result for Britain.
Steve Stirrup, USA

Whether he'll be a good, strong leader is still in doubt, as he did not so much win, as Mr. Clarke lost

Al, Tampa, USA
Whether he'll be a good, strong leader is still in doubt, as he did not so much win, as Mr. Clarke lost. Having said this, Mr. Duncan Smith came across as sincere, while Mr. Clarke has appeared to be pompous and arrogant. He obviously worked on his accent in the past, and has given himself an air of good grace.
Let's face it, the Conservatives should never have dropped Maggie and should have invited her back! And in the absence of her, the best leader that they have had for the last few years is Tony Blair! He's more right wing than Clarke!
Al, Tampa, USA

As a liberal and a Liberal I am delighted to see an unelectable Eurosceptic as leader to keep the Tory's out of power for the foreseeable future.
Rick Twyman, Turkey

Yes, he is the right choice. The conservatives will hopefully now move so far to the right that a total implosion will take place and the next election will take them third. Then something fresh will truly be sought by conservatives to bring them back to the centre-right ground. Social liberalism as well as the traditional economic liberalism of the Conversatives is their only way back.
John, UK

I think that as Duncan-Smith comes from the right he can unite the party and thus reach out to floating voters by talking about the public services. Hopefully he can win a general election and, if not, he will have at least stabilised the party and allowed someone like David Davis the experience to eventually lead the party back to power.
Simon Baker, UK

This is excellent news for the Labour Party. So at least 8 more years of opposition awaits us.
Peter Wilson, England

Third dud in a row

Roman, Frankfurt, Germany
Third dud in a row. Obviously a party that hasn't got the brains to elect a credible leader isn't fit to be in government either. Welcome to oblivion, gentlemen.
Roman, Frankfurt, Germany

William Hague II!
Do the Tories want to stay out of power for a generation? They obviously feel that everyone in the UK is deeply right-wing. Sorry lads you're finished.
David Newberry, Dublin, Ireland

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