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Friday, 21 September, 2001, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Clarke stays away from Tory conference
Ken Clarke and Iain Duncan Smith
Mr Clarke lost out in his bid to lead the Tories
Defeated Conservative leadership contender Ken Clarke says he will not be attending this year's Tory conference.

The former chancellor - who lost out in the leadership race to Eurosceptic Iain Duncan Smith - said that he did not want to be considered as a "poor man's Margaret Thatcher traipsing around the conference".

That was a reference to conference appearances by the former prime minister who always received a rapturous reception from the Tory rank and file.

Lady Thatcher
Margaret Thatcher was an Iain Duncan Smith backer
Lady Thatcher - who backed Mr Duncan Smith - came under intense criticism during the summer-long leadership campaign from another former Tory premier John Major.

He came out in favour of Mr Clarke and rounded on Lady Thatcher, whom he accused her of causing "immense damage" by stoking up rebellion on Europe during his premiership.

During the campaign Lady Thatcher, whose own premiership ended when she was ousted by her own party, said she would be staying away from this year's Blackpool conference.

Her own time in power was overshadowed by criticism from her predecessor Ted Heath whom she ousted as Tory leader.

It was a trait she continued with thinly disguised attacks on Mr Major whom she failed to back when his leadership was unsuccessfully challenged by another Eurosceptic, John Redwood.

Tory poll

Mr Clarke was defeated by Iain Duncan Smith last week in a poll of Tory party members.

The winner scooped 61% of the votes to Mr Clarke's 39%.

Since then Mr Duncan Smith has appointed a shadow cabinet that has seen nearly all the prominent jobs go to Eurosceptics.

Mr Clarke refused to be drawn on his former rival's choice of frontbench line up.

As the most prominent Tory backer of the euro, it is certain that his shadow cabinet would have taken on a different complexion.

Last week was the second time Mr Clarke has missed out on the Tory leadership.

After John Major's defeat in 1997 Mr Clarke lost out to William Hague.

Mr Hague in turn decided to step down as Tory leader after the crushing defeat the party suffered at the General Election in June this year.

See also:

30 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Top Tories tussle for leadership
25 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Ken Clarke statement in full
02 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Candidates back Duncan Smith
21 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Thatcher sparks Tory feuding
21 Aug 01 | UK Politics
Clarke hits back at Thatcher
13 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Ken Clarke, two-time 'lucky loser'
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