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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!
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!
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.
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?
Excellent man. IDS for Prime Minister, and the sooner the better
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.
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
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.
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.
Iain Duncan Smith? Who's that?
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.
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.
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?
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.
IDS is the Tory Party "manager" - he is not a "Leader". But who else is there to put in his place?
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!
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.
No matter what he says, Duncan-Smith will always be bald.
Jon Livesey, USA
Where is the female opinion?
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.
Duncan Smith... Less boring or obnoxious as Thatcher and Major but still has the same weasel-like look that Haig had.
I like him.
He's got potential.
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.
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
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.
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.
He gave Rory Bremner plenty of good material.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Who is he again?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
IDS is a perfect head for today's Conservative party: unheard of, uninspiring and unelectable.
Rob Anderson, UK
Iain Duncan Smith?
Who is that?
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.
The man is faceless. Charles Kennedy is more recognisable and the Lib Dems are now the UK's second party.
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.
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.
13 Sep 02 | Politics
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