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Monday, 16 September, 2002, 09:03 GMT 10:03 UK
How do you rate Iain Duncan Smith's first year?
Iain Duncan Smith has marked his anniversary as leader of the Conservative Party with a speech focusing on poorer communities, inner cities and ethnic minorities.

The speech is part of an attempted shift in the Tories' image to be more inclusive.

Duncan Smith's sacking of MP Ann Winterton for cracking a racist joke caused disapproval amongst more traditional Tories who think the party should move away from its concern over women, blacks and gays.

But Labour claims the new compassionate Conservatism veils "extremist right wing policies" beneath an appeal to vulnerable and disadvantaged people .

Opinion polls have not budged since Duncan Smith won the top job and though hints have been made, no detailed Tory strategy has been forthcoming.

Confusion remains amongst some voters over what the new Tory party exactly stands for - and quite who Iain Duncan Smith is.

How do you rate Iain Duncan Smith's performance in his first year? Do you think the party has become more inclusive under his leadership? Does he have a strong enough profile to make a prime minister?


This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Carbon copy of all the problems that Hague had (with the electorate). No one with any self respect or intellect would ever again trust a party that destroyed the fabric of British society. Duncan Smith has nothing new to say with which to tempt the next and present generation of voters. There is just no credibility and no viable alternative to Labour. Democracy? pah!
Rob, UK

What the Conservative Party needs at the moment is a great orator and thinker, in the manner of Winston Churchill. IDS is a decent, quietly competent person, but leadership demands more. That being said, he is a lot better bet for the UK than Tony Blair, who appears to be looking for citizenship of the USA!
John Atkins, England


Like many of his ilk he's stuck in a mythical golden age

Adrian, UK
Hague was once described as a 76 year old man in a 36 year old body, Duncan Smith is even older. Like many of his ilk he's stuck in a mythical golden age. They're mindset is of the 19th Century, or rather their version of it. With proportional representation, they would have been dumped in the dustbin of history years ago.
Adrian, UK

Until the Conservative Party throw out all of the Thatcher remnants I could never vote for them. As a serving Police Officer I saw first hand what a wonderful world they made for the poor and dispossessed, the mess made with care in the community whilst mental hospitals were sold for housing, the damage done to the nation's health by selling off school playing fields. Need I go on? IDS has made a slight start which he needs to build on before the next election.
Barry P, England

He and his party are now irrelevant. The principle right wing party in this country is New Labour: anti-union, mesmerised by the voodoo economics of the market and subservient to America. With a Labour party like that, who needs the Tories?
Charles Moore, Scotland

Excellent man. IDS for Prime Minister, and the sooner the better
Brian, UK

Until Iain Duncan Smith appeared I had often wondered what The Invisible Man looks like. A thoroughly nice bloke - far too pleasant, refined and intelligent to reach the top job in British Politics. Which is why he probably won't.
Chris B, England

I think we are not used to politicians like IDS. Ok maybe not very glamorous but a decent honest intelligent man who goes about his job without a big fanfare and just gets on with it. We all complain about Labour and spin yet we pan IDS for being dull etc. I think IDS is the right man to be the next Prime Minster and I believe he will be. Although I agree the Tories need to promote their policies more, I think it is incumbent on all Tory supporters/party workers to stop infighting and get struck into Labour.

P.S. I am 24 years old, so the young do vote Tory as well
Dave, England

Five years in and despite a blundering performance on the public services, the petrol blockade, foot and mouth etc, etc Labour looks more secure than ever. And people think IDS should be given more time! If he can't start scoring significant hits by now waiting till the next election is not going to help.
Simon O'Brien, UK

Iain Duncan Smith is a very typical Tory who is trying to pretend that he isn't by painting this "caring" image. Britain has changed a lot since the 1950s, but the Conservatives have not really understood the nature of the changes. They wrongly imagine they must suddenly be PC to be popular. This isn't true. The next major opposition party should be down-to-earth, care about public services and crime, but also seriously respect devolution and the national and ethnic mix which exists in Britain. The stuffiness, snobbery and tweedy atmosphere which is deeply ingrained in the Conservative Party, together with the libertarian, money-grabbing wing of the party, are far removed from the realities and aspirations of the majority of Britain's citizens.
Anon, Wales

Iain Duncan Smith? Who's that?
Stacey Turner, UK


There is not enough room in the centre for three parties

M.S, England
As a life long Tory I am very disappointed with Iain Duncan Smith. There is not enough room in the centre for three parties. The public despise Blair and can see through him, IDS needs to take advantage of this and put some clear blue water between them.
M.S, England

The leader who killed the Tories is not IDS, badwagon billy, or even Jonnie Bland, but Thatcher. As long as the ghosts of her heritage, abandoned factories, gutted communities, second and now third generation unemployment blackspots, privitised industry fatcats, clutter up the British landscape then the Tories will remain unelectable. Her, greed is good and society is for wimps, era is what really killed the Tories. IDS can only slow it's decline at best.
Rhiannon, UK

I think IDS is basically a decent man and I would really like to be positive about him because this Government is the worst thing that ever happened for the last 20 years. Unfortunately he does not seem to have made an impact. Maybe he should start appearing on quiz shows like Have I Got News for You, it will give him a steady income in later life. He has not got a hope in hell of becoming PM unless he starts performing.
Chris P, UK

The majority in this country want to retain the pound, hate Brussels tinkering with our laws, want the police to adopt zero tolerance on crime, believe in the strength of marriage and family values, and want to stop mass immigration in its tracks. There are millions of votes there for the taking. What is IDS reading these days, the papers or the Labour Party manifesto?
Baz, UK

The Tory party is so out of touch with the world today that it is struggling even to stay on the political map. Iain Duncan-Smith is another in what will doubtless be a long line of dull and clueless leaders unsuccessfully trying to salvage something from the existing shambles.
Paul Barrows, UK

IDS is the Tory Party "manager" - he is not a "Leader". But who else is there to put in his place?
JCL, London

When turn-coat Blair completely about turns and steals all the possible policies of the Tory Party (except for the euro!) and contradicts everything that he has ever stood for, it must be hard being a Tory Leader. IDS is a good man - it would help if he would tackle Blair a lot more at Question time - but the Euro debate is yet to come. If Blair does not run scared, this is where IDS will come up trumps!
Paul Harris, UK


The Conservatives need someone who will reinvent the party

Steven Kelly, UK
The Conservatives badly need someone who will take risks, throw off the shackles of Thatcher and reinvent the party. The measured, dour, traditional Mr Duncan Smith has about as much chance of promoting this image as he has of winning the next Pop Idol contest. If one wants to win, one plays the game. At present, the Conservatives are watching from the sidelines.
Steven Kelly, UK

He has made a solid start. Remember: no one knew who Hague was after a year, but he'd left plenty of hostages to fortune (remember the baseball cap?) IDS is preparing ground for the future.
Matthew, UK

No matter what he says, Duncan-Smith will always be bald.
Ian Sharp, England


When Labour looks competent, Tories look superfluous

Jon Livesey, USA
As long as Labour doesn't mess up too badly, people don't know what the Tory party is really for. Tories have always been the party of competent government, so when Labour looks competent, even for a short time, Tories look superfluous. But we are approaching the time when Labour self-destructs - this time it looks like a combination of Iraq and the unions. Blair won't get the boost from Iraq that Maggie got from the Falklands, and unions now have activist leaders for industrial action. So by early next year, Blair's troubles will really begin, and then IDS will get into his stride. People who mock, should consider how unimpressive Maggie looked at the same period in her time in opposition.
Jon Livesey, USA

Where is the female opinion?
Alan, HK

The right honourable gentleman should be given a chance. I have confidence in him, and he is noble. Let us not judge him straight away.
Hillary Barreau, UK

Duncan Smith... Less boring or obnoxious as Thatcher and Major but still has the same weasel-like look that Haig had.
Stephen Davidson, UK

I like him. He's got potential.
James Strasberg, UK

Tony Blair is the best Conservative leader for years. What hope does IDS have against him? However, Tony will not be around forever. Even so, I agree that the Lib Dems will become the new opposition. IDS is no opposition at all.
Andrew Levens, UK


Give IDS a chance!

Jason Braier, England
I say give IDS a chance! He has very sensibly sent his shadow cabinet around the world to expand their minds on their portfolios and look for different solutions to problems Labour have failed to deal with. This measured approach, along with having a good team around him with people such as the brilliant Letwin and Bercow, should pay dividends when the big policies are announced and pushed.
Jason Braier, England

Seems a decent man, but decent men don't win. Definitely lacks charisma and so is destined to lead the party further into the wilderness
Michael F. Gill, UK

As a long standing Conservative supporter, I despair at the lack of any real opposition to the current party in power. Surely with all the mistakes and overall poor performance which must make this country a laughing stock Iain Duncan Smith must be able to raise his game and be an effective opposition leader.
John Marsh, England


They need to do something fast

Rikki Tissier, England
Where has he been? As a Tory supporter, I didn't expect some massive turnaround within a year, but I did expect the Tory face and values being marketed again. Hague might not have done a brilliant job, but at least he made his voice heard. They need to do something fast, because if it continues and they lose the next general election, they will slip into oblivion.
Rikki Tissier, England

It is said time and time again that IDS lacks charisma, and sadly this is true. He lacks the energy, drive and forward thinking of a great leader. His passion does not shine through when he speaks and this does not help in reviving the passion of conservatism in voters, especially the young.
Lee, Wales

He gave Rory Bremner plenty of good material.
Ryan, Northern Ireland


He has failed to ignite the public imagination

Mark Russell, Chorleywood, Herts, UK
Iain Duncan Smith has successfully managed to stop his party self-destructing over the euro, but he has failed to ignite the public imagination or raise the moral of his own party. The Tories remain as they were a year ago, as U2 would say, "Stuck in a moment they can't get out of". IDS's achievement is that Labour now is the natural party of government in Britain.
Mark Russell, Chorleywood, Herts, UK

At least, IDS is trying hard. And, what alternative is there in the Tory party? Ken Clarke would have given Blair a hard time, but his position on the euro was unfortunately irreconcilable with the position of the majority of the Tories. And Portillo would certainly have been the best leader, yet he was literally despised by parts of his own party and the conservative press.
Steven, England


He needs to put ideas forward to make this country what it once was

Tom Stroud, England
Being a Tory supporter I am more than disappointed with the performance given so far by Mr Duncan Smith. What we need is for someone to stand up and believe in the things that we the voters want. He needs to be more outspoken and put ideas forward to make this country what it once was. Be bland and direct, but most importantly get going. I have only got 50 years left to live.
Tom Stroud, England

Like him or not, Michael Portillo is the only viable leader of the Conservative party for the present because he has exactly the qualities needed to catch the public's attention.
Philip, USA/UK


He has to keep his powder dry so be patient!

Peter, UK
Who was it who said that leading the Conservative Party is like driving pigs to market? Remember also that, sharing the centre ground as the Tories now do with New Labour, any new and innovative policy IDS comes up with will simply be snaffled by Blair and claimed as government policy. He has to keep his powder dry for the time being, so be patient!
Peter, UK

You know I thought Bush's speeches were bad, but I still managed to sit through his whole speech to the UN but try as I might, I could not sit through Mr Duncan Smith's anniversary speech about his five giants. He seemed to have no real enthusiasm for what he was talking about and might have done better having some computer read it out for him. He even admitted right at the start he was stealing the main idea from a speech made decades ago by the founder of the welfare state which is hardly saying much for the Tory party.
Drew, UK


He'll restore some much needed moral backbone to the nation

Hywel Carr, Wales
Iain Duncan Smith is an inspiring man. A rare politician with integrity, principle and resolve. I'm sure once prime minister, he'll restore some much needed moral backbone to the nation.
Hywel Carr, Wales

The Tories need a leader to stand against Tony Blair. Mr Duncan Smith is not the man. The nearest they came was with Michael Portillo, now that gives you an understanding of the trouble they are in! A new Tony or Maggie Thatcher needs to come through the ranks. So it looks like Tony is safe for the next 10 years! He is a nice guy, speaks sense but he stands on the fence, has no respect and is a stopgap until the next general election.
Simon Doderer, England

It's quite clear the Tories and IDS are going the way of old Labour. The average age of the Tory Party member/voter at the last election was 65 and rising! Don't forget John Major got half a million more votes in 1992 than Tony Blair did in 1997! I don't believe IDS can get what remains of Tory supporters back to the ballot box. If this means that the only way we can get true democracy in this country is to introduce proportional representation can we see some conservative support for it?
John Hanley, UK

I would consider myself a Tory voter. However IDS has not impressed me and such is my distaste for him that I would rather not vote than use it for him. Labour must be laughing at us. Why can we not provide a creditable alternative to Labour? It seems so disheartening to realise that there is currently no one who I could imagine running this country and who stands for the things that I believe in. I feel betrayed.
Anon, UK

Who is he again?
Chris Cotton, UK


The man is bland!

Crisbian Floyde, UK
The man is bland! Like most politicians he disagrees with his opposite number for the sake of it. He's got nothing to say and he is saying it very loudly. Bring back Ken Clarke.
Crisbian Floyde, UK

Tony Blair should be celebrating. Whilst we have people like William Hague and Iain Duncan-Smith in opposition then Labour will win elections hands-down! It is still the situation where Blair remains the best of a bad bunch.
Matt, UK

I don't really have an opinion about the guy as I would never vote Tory, but one thing I would say is, how can any party leader have any sort of profile against the media hungry Blair?
Mike, UK

It shames me to say it, but I have absolutely no idea what opinion I have about Iain Duncan-Smith. I very rarely hear him speak and I find it hard to recall his face. He's bald isn't he? Par for the course in the Tory party I guess.
Liam, UK


Duncan Smith has put a rational face on the Conservative party

Iain, UK
Duncan Smith has put a calm, rational and reasonable face on the Conservative party. Unfortunately they're still the same old arrogant, intolerant and compassionless Tories underneath.
Iain, UK

He has come across as a man with integrity; far more honest than Blair. What is more he is leading the Tories towards the centre, which is a surprise when all of the commentators said he was the 'right wing' candidate and Clarke the centrist.
Lee Marriott, England

Give the guy a chance! Thatcherism took about 5 years to become established and Old Labour provided lots of help. However, he and his team have got 18 months to establish themselves as an alternative government, and that will be very, very, hard.
Mike, UK

I think he is a perfectly likeable and competent man. However, his difficulty is his lack of charisma, which is desperately needed if he is to be a match for the PM.
James, England

IDS is a perfect head for today's Conservative party: unheard of, uninspiring and unelectable.
Matt Day, United Kingdom


Smith should have provided a party line by now

Rob Anderson, UK
The Conservatives have an open sore in the form of their attitude toward Europe. Smith should have provided a party line by now, telling those that disagree with him to take the high road. Instead, we find that the cracks have been papered over. Where are the brave new policies? We need to know the changes to the Tory ethic long before the next election, otherwise we'll have no option but to vote for somebody else.
Rob Anderson, UK


The Conservatives stood for freedom when they abolished slavery

Mark, England
There was a time when the Conservatives once stood for freedom when they abolished slavery, or the reform act in the 1860s. However it is clear they no longer do. If IDS really valued liberty, then he would use the full force of his position to condemn ID Cards, and Blunkett's proposals to scrap double jeopardy. Only a Libertarian such as Lilley or Portillo as leader, can possibly save the Tories from being wiped out.
Mark, England

Iain Duncan Smith? Who is that?
Darren Stephens, UK

William Hague was a likeable chap who led a very deflated party. On the other hand Iain Duncan Smith isn't likeable, and is now in charge of a party where the balloon has literally popped.
Brian, UK

The man is faceless. Charles Kennedy is more recognisable and the Lib Dems are now the UK's second party.
Darren Badrock, England


There is nothing to represent me

Phillip Holley, UK
They are heading left while everyone else is getting fed up with Labour heading to the right. Maybe we'll meet in the middle and they'll represent the majority again? They've run straight past me and as my political bent becomes further to the right there is nothing to represent me. If I'm not alone then the buffer representing anything at all to the right of politics will be the BNP and none of us want that do we!? Stop dallying around run-down council estates and get sticking the knife in as they're doing a poor job and people are well and truly noticing. The only thing they don't notice is an alternative.
Phillip Holley, UK

This is not a joke - three days ago I was trying to remember the name of the leader of the Tory party and couldn't for a few minutes. But then I don't watch television much.
Doug Weller, United Kingdom

Unfortunately, whatever he says or does is usually sneered at by the left-leaning press and by a lot of the contributors to Talking Point, so I doubt he will have strong enough 'perceived' profile.
Philip Shorter, England

See also:

13 Sep 02 | Politics
12 Sep 02 | Politics
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