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Thursday, 26 July, 2001, 17:34 GMT 18:34 UK
Duncan Smith admits underdog status

Both candidates are seeking Scottish support
Iain Duncan Smith has said he is the underdog in the contest to replace William Hague as Conservative Party leader.

But the right-winger predicted he would eventually win through because of his opposition to UK entry into the euro.


I accept that Ken is much better known and that my own profile has come from more or less nowhere

Iain Duncan Smith
The shadow defence secretary, who is competing with pro-single currency former chancellor Ken Clarke for the leadership, was speaking after an opinion poll suggested he had the edge among Tory Party members who will decide the matter in September.

Although a separate survey, published in the Times newspaper indicated that Mr Clarke was the more popular choice among party supporters and members of the public.

Speaking during a visit to Perth, Mr Duncan Smith insisted that only he could unite the party, unlike his opponent.

"I accept that Ken is much better known and that my own profile has come from more or less nowhere," he said.

Iain Duncan Smith
Mr Duncan Smith was born in Edinburgh
"But the more I do this, the longer it goes on and I am convinced they will say I'm the only one to unite the party - and that's my message."

Mr Duncan Smith said that the Tories, still reeling from their second landslide defeat at the hands of New Labour, needed to come together on Europe.

The only way to do that was for the party to elect a leader who shared the "majority position" of the Tories on the EU and single currency, he said.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "The Conservative Party has made a particular decision which said that it is opposed to entry to the euro.

Party view

"I happen to share that view so I think the Conservative Party needs to explain that and show that the government is ideologically wedded to the idea of signing up."

The nation needed a proper debate and if the Tories were not in the position of saying 'no' to the euro then the "political elite" would "ram this through".

Mr Duncan Smith's visit comes a day ahead of Mr Clarke's campaign descending on Scotland.

With more than 20,000 party members in Scotland, both leaders will be seeking to make a good impression ahead of September's postal ballot.

Mr Duncan Smith made strong play of his Scottish roots during his visit and insisted he had come north of the border to find out activists' views.

He stressed he was born and educated in Scotland, had been visiting for years and also considered himself a Scot.

He said: "Scotland matters to me in a way it doesn't matter to others."

Blue Scotland?

Asked how he saw the future of the Tories in Scotland, he said he wanted the country to be Conservative again.

"Even if we were to win at Westminster without Scottish Conservatives it would not be a happy future," he said.

Despite previously suggesting that devolution in Scotland might be reversed Mr Duncan-Smith pledged his support for the process and insisted that the Tories would "make it work".

'Focus' on the Lib Dems

Later Mr Duncan Smith attacked the Liberal Democrats, who are in coalition with Labour in Scotland.

Speaking at a news conference in Edinburgh, he said the Lib Dems had been "getting away with murder" by telling voters they are like the Tories while backing Labour at Westminster and Holyrood.

Mr Duncan Smith said his first priority as Tory leader would be discrediting the Liberal Democrats before then turning his attention to Labour.

He said: "We are going to focus on them and show where our differences lie and show to an electorate that is probably uncertain that they are not Conservatives, even though they pretend to be, and expose them as the running dogs of Labour."


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See also:

19 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Clarke and Duncan Smith battle on
25 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Tory hopefuls take to hustings
17 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Picture gallery: Tory leadership
17 Jul 01 | Talking Point
Who should lead the Tories?
26 Jul 01 | UK Politics
Clarke ahead among ordinary voters
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