BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: UK Politics
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

The BBC's Guto Harri
"Michael Portillo faces some tough competition"
 real 56k

Former Conservative minister, Chris Patten
"No Conservative leader is going to make the Conservative Party electable unless it gets back onto the middle ground"
 real 28k

Saturday, 16 June, 2001, 13:06 GMT 14:06 UK
Patten decries Tory 'nightmare vision'
Chris Patten
Mr Patten urged a more pro-European approach
Former Conservative Party chairman Chris Patten has warned that the Tories are in danger of making themselves unelectable if they elect a leader with anti-European views.

Mr Patten, now a European commissioner, said it was "absolute nonsense" to pretend the Tories could win another election without recapturing the middle ground.

I'm not sure it matters who leads unless the Conservative Party as a whole takes the real lessons from 10 days ago

Chris Patten
The Conservatives, he said, also needed to redefine what their party was about.

"It is folly to suggest that it can recapture the middle ground of politics while indulging in a caricature nightmare vision of Europe," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Mr Patten's comments came as a survey suggested the Conservative leadership contest was still wide open.

Although he had words of praise for Michael Portillo he said: "I'm not sure it matters who leads unless the Conservative Party as a whole takes the real lessons from 10 days ago.

"No leader is going to make the Conservative Party electable unless it gets back on to the middle ground and drops this ridiculous attitude to Europe."

That view was echoed by former Tory trade minister Ian Taylor at a pro-European conference in Cardiff.

The MP, who is backing former chancellor Ken Clarke for the leadership, said: "We should try to take this obsession with Europe out of Tory theology and allow each individual in the party to have their own view."

Mr Portillo is the only senior Tory to declare his candidature for the party leadership so far although shadow defence secretary Iain Duncan Smith is on the brink of entering the Conservative party leadership race.

He has promised to make the party more inclusive without abandoning its traditional values.

Mr Duncan Smith, who is increasingly being touted as the standard-bearer of the right, told the Daily Telegraph he was spending the weekend sounding out opinion but was "more likely than not" to stand.

Iain Duncan Smith, shadow defence secretary
Iain Duncan Smith: Considering options
He said he was a very different candidate from Mr Portillo saying the next Tory leader must be an "everyman figure".

Shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe will reveal on Monday whether she will enter the contest.

But several of Saturday's papers report that she is set to pull out, having failed to garner enough support from MPs.

'I've experienced life'

Mr Duncan Smith told the Telegraph: "I think voters ask 'Is this the person more likely to have shared my experiences, more likely to understand what I am saying?'

Contest timetable
27 June - election of chairman of 1922 Committee, which runs contest
28 June or 5 July - possible close of leadership nominations
3 or 10 July - first ballot of MPs
5 or 12 July - second ballot of MPs
10 or 17 July - possible final ballot of MPs
Mid-late July - ballot papers sent to grass roots members
Early August - winner declared
"I can stand in front of anybody and say I know what it is like to be made redundant.

"I know what it is like to bring up kids.

"I know what it is like to go out to work.

"Politics was not my life until I was quite old."

He reportedly said he was willing to offer Mr Clarke a position in his shadow cabinet, even though he himself is opposed to entry to the euro.

Miss Widdecombe has already announced she could not work with Mr Portillo if he secured the post - accusing his "little band of backbiters" of undermining the party.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console

Recent stories

The final two


See also:

05 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Party donations under fire
13 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Portillo in pole position
13 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Portillo statement in full
13 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Duncan Smith mulls Tory challenge
14 Jun 01 | UK Politics
The other Tory election
13 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Getty gives 5m to Tories
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