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EDITIONS
Thursday, 13 September, 2001, 16:47 GMT 17:47 UK
Hectic start for new leader
Ken Clarke, left, Iain Duncan Smith, right
Ken Clarke, left, congratulates Iain Duncan Smith
Iain Duncan Smith faces a hectic start as Conservative Party leader.

As the new leader of the opposition he will have to be briefed by Number 10 on the latest situation in the wake of the bloody terrorist attacks carried out in the US.

He will also need to select his shadow cabinet - one of his first and most important tasks after such an intensely divisive leadership campaign.

Sources close to Mr Duncan Smith have suggested that an announcement on this might be made on Thursday evening.

New momentum

Normally the losers in the leadership contest are offered a place in the shadow cabinet, although final round rival Ken Clarke indicated at the outset of his campaign that he would not want to return to the opposition frontbench except as leader.

After snatching a few hours sleep, on Friday Mr Duncan Smith faces his first Commons appearance in the emergency session following the shocking terror attacks in the US.

If first impressions count, Mr Duncan Smith will want to appear statesmanlike when he replies to a statement from Prime Minister Tony Blair on the terrorist attacks in the US in which thousands are believed to have died, including several hundred Britons.

There will be little time to draw breath - there are a whole host of decisions and arrangements to be made for the Tory party's annual conference to be held in Blackpool.

Key event

He has just more than three weeks to get ready for what could be a key event in his leadership.

In Blackpool he faces a party shaken by their second massive defeat at the hands of New Labour and bruised by a leadership contest that exposed the split between the Eurosceptic right and the pro-European wing of the party.

Setting a course for the party so it can recover is the most challenging of tasks.

There are also a number of more mundane, but nevertheless important, administrative tasks to attend to.

These include the appointment of staff to his private office, including the selection of the press chief who will have responsibility for ensuring the Tory message is delivered in the most favourable light possible.

A shake-up of staff at Conservative Central Office is also very much on the cards.

Fringe benefits

There are fringe benefits to being the leader of the opposition such as an official car, a salary of 119,979 and 524,799 to fund the Leader of the Opposition's office.

Having missed out on high office in the past Mr Duncan Smith will also need to be made a privy councillor - that is something that will have to happen promptly.

The appointment is made by the Queen and usually announced through Downing Street.



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