BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK Politics
Front Page 
World 
UK 
UK Politics 
Interviews 
Business 
Sci/Tech 
Health 
Education 
Entertainment 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
AudioVideo 

Monday, 18 June, 2001, 13:20 GMT 14:20 UK
Duncan Smith, champion of the right
Iain Duncan Smith
Can Iain Duncan Smith beat Portillo?
Endorsed by leading rightwinger Lord Tebbit as "a remarkably normal family man with children," Iain Duncan Smith has taken the plunge and joined battle for the Tory leadership.

But it may already be too late for the shadow defence secretary to snatch victory.

Duncan Smith's CV
Born April 1954
Joined Tory Party in 1981
Contested Bradford West 1987
Elected as MP for Chingford 1992
Social security shadow 1997-99
Defence shadow 1999-
Mr Portillo has built up a strong head of steam, and has the backing of two-thirds of the shadow cabinet before his challenger has even left the traps.

But Mr Duncan Smith has grown in stature in the last few years as those on the right of the party have become increasingly alarmed by Michael Portillo's drift leftward.

And seen from the perspective of the Tory right, Iain Duncan Smith's political credentials are impeccable.

A former member of the Scots Guards, he has seen active service in Northern Ireland.

He is a firm believer in the free market and a member of the Thatcherite No Turning Back Group - deserted by Michael Portillo last November.

A die-hard Eurosceptic, he voted against the Maastricht Treaty in parliament, in defiance of the then Conservative leader and Prime Minister John Major.


Madam, these are the teeth of a killer
This man must have meat or die

Lord Tebbit on Iain Duncan Smith
This principled stand ruled him out for promotion from the backbenches under Mr Major.

More recently it is reputed that Mr Duncan Smith once threatened to resign from the shadow cabinet along with colleague David Heathcoat-Amory if William Hague refused to rule out joining the single currency for a decade.

Ties with Tebbit

Mr Duncan Smith's parliamentary career took off in the 1992 general election as he held Norman Tebbit's old seat of Chingford.

There are many similarities in the two men's politics, if not in their tone - Mr Duncan Smith being some what softer spoken than the former party chairman.

Baroness Thatcher
Duncan Smith is close to the former PM
One tale from 1992 has the pair out canvassing in Chingford. A woman stopped the would-be MP to ask his opinion on fox hunting - before he could answer Lord Tebbit had intervened saying: "Madam, these are the teeth of a killer. This man must have meat or die."

Described in the press as an active Christian, Mr Duncan Smith joined the Tory party in 1981, after being profoundly affected by Lady Thatcher's election victory in 1979.

He is now said to be close to the former prime minister who is a likely backer of his campaign.

Lady Thatcher is believed to have been behind a propaganda coup which saw Mr Duncan Smith hold a meeting with George W Bush's defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, before his UK opposite number Geoff Hoon had a chance to brief him on EU proposals for a rapid reaction force.

It goes without saying that Mr Duncan Smith is fiercely opposed to any moves towards a potential European army and that he believes the UK should back American plans for a National Missile Defence system.

Redwood backer

In the 1997 battle for the Tory leadership Mr Duncan Smith not only rejected William Hague to back leading Eurosceptic John Redwood, he ran his campaign.

Only after Mr Redwood was knocked out of the contest did Mr Duncan Smith swing behind the Mr Hague, the eventual winner.

John Redwood
Mr Duncan Smith supported John Redwood for the Tory leadership
As social security spokesman he led Tory opposition to major planks of the government's programme such as welfare to work.

Michael Portillo launched his campaign for the leadership with a plea for inclusiveness in the party, and Mr Duncan Smith has done likewise but his instincts are socially conservative: for capital punishment, against gays in the military and against women fighting on the front line.

Mr Duncan Smith is married with four children; his wife Elizabeth is a secretary.

His father was a World War II pilot before he went into business; his mother was a ballet dancer.

Mr Duncan Smith's beliefs make him a natural political heir to the Thatcher legacy.

But his vision for Britain's future may be perceived as too right wing for him to appeal to enough of the general public to take the Tories back to Downing Street.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
BBC RADIO NEWS
BBC ONE TV NEWS
WORLD NEWS SUMMARY
PROGRAMMES GUIDE
See also:

03 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Pledge to strengthen TA
11 Sep 00 | UK Politics
'Pull UK troops out of Sierra Leone'
12 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Services gay ban lifted
14 Sep 99 | UK Politics
UK army 'overstretched'
08 Dec 99 | UK Politics
Rapid reaction to Thatcher attack
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK Politics stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK Politics stories