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EDITIONS
Thursday, 6 September, 2001, 10:49 GMT 11:49 UK
Move on from Thatcher - top Tory
Archie Norman, shadow environment secretary
Norman says Tories must ditch "monomania"
Too many Conservatives are still in the thrall of Margaret Thatcher and the party must cast aside the "intimidatory dogma of the past", according to shadow environment secretary Archie Norman.

A supporter of Michael Portillo's ill-fated bid for the Tory leadership, Mr Norman says Eurosceptic "monomania" must be ditched and he urges his party to "turn and face the electorate".


The last five years have to rank as amongst the most sterile in the history of right of centre politics in Britain

Archie Norman
Interviewed by a political website on Thursday, Mr Norman also said it was time the party ditched its "fusty" Westminster headquarters for new offices.

As one of the senior Tories behind plans for a "think tank with attitude" to carry forward Mr Portillo's ideas, the former Asda chief presses his party to embrace the tactics of both US President George W Bush and New Labour in using pollsters and research.

'Backward-looking'

Mr Norman tells the ePolitix.com website: "We have to change from a party which is all too often introverted and backward-looking ... to one which young, progressive people can identify with."

"Too many in the party are still in the thrall of Margaret Thatcher. They adhere to a distilled reinterpretation of Thatcherism that has become an obstacle to new thinking ...

Michael Portillo
A new think tank will take forward Portillo's agenda
"We need a new creative process and the intimidatory dogma of the past should be cast aside."

The leadership contest between Ken Clarke and Iain Duncan Smith has seen fierce battles erupt over the legacy of Thatcherism, as well as being dogged by the arguments over Europe.

Mr Norman says his party must "stop banging on" about the European issue and is critical of the importance the debate was given in the Tory general election campaign.

Ken Clarke
Clarke is preparing for another hustings meeting on Thursday
He also says the party should leave Conservative Central Office in Westminster and its "rabbit warren of fusty, awkward rooms".

"If the party is to recover, it has to become thought leading, whereas the last five years have to rank as amongst the most sterile in the history of right of centre politics in Britain."

Mr Norman praised both leadership contenders as "principled and able" but said it was difficult to identify new ideas in the contest.

Iain Duncan Smith
Duncan Smith has denounced the BNP
Neither leadership contender has events planned on Thursday ahead of another evening hustings meeting before party members in Bournemouth.

The far-right British National Party has tried to stir trouble in the contest by urging the "limited number" of its members which also belong to the Tory party to vote for Mr Duncan Smith.

A BNP newsletter describes the Tory party as the "biggest roadblock" to its own electoral success and sees Mr Duncan Smith as likely to bring about electoral failure for the Tories, they believe this could then aid the BNP.

A spokesman for the shadow defence secretary, who sacked Edgar Griffin from his campaign because of his BNP links, told the Guardian newspaper: "We do not want or need any support from organisations like the BNP.

"Mr Duncan Smith has fought this abhorrent party all his political life."


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