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Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Duncan Smith defends terror policy
Iain Duncan Smith
Mr Duncan Smith backs "constructive opposition"
Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has defended his "no glimmer of daylight" backing for the government's current policy on battling global terrorism.

The newly elected Tory leader insisted it was right to maintain "constructive opposition" as the crisis continues - but pledged to ask questions where necessary.


The Conservative Party will co-operate where co-operation is necessary and will ask serious questions where those are necessary

Iain Duncan Smith
He told BBC One's Breakfast programme that he wanted changes to human rights laws to make extradition of terrorist suspects easier.

The comments came hours before Charles Kennedy was due to use his keynote speech to the Liberal Democrat party conference in Bournemouth to make a fresh call for caution in the West's response to the US terror attacks.

Compared with the Tories the Lib Dems have struck a much more questioning tone over the impending military response to the suicide hijackings targeted at New York and Washington.

Mr Kennedy's predecessor as Lib Dem leader, Lord (Paddy) Ashdown, told BBC Breakfast on Thursday that the Conservative approach was "nonsense".

Constructive opposition

Over-reacting to the terrorist threat was exactly what the terrorists wanted, he added.

But speaking later on the same programme Mr Duncan Smith rejected the criticism, saying: "I don't know what Paddy Ashdown's game is.

"I think the British people want constructive opposition.

Lord Ashdown
Lord Ashdown: Military action could start in 'hours or days'
"We don't just go into opposition mode and criticism because it's fashionable or because we think we ought to do it for future reference.

"I want the British people to recognise that the Conservative Party will co-operate where co-operation is necessary and will ask serious questions where those are necessary."

Calling the concept of blank cheque support "nonsense", Mr Duncan Smith went on to say his party were waiting to hear about government policy on identity cards as well as the evidence and planning behind any military action.

The Tories are also urging immediate changes to the Human Rights Act, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into British law, to make it easier to deport those guilty of inciting or preparing terrorist acts.

Terrorism definition

They also want to see "narrow" legislation to crack down on terrorist funding and a European Union-wide definition of terrorism.

Mr Duncan Smith urged extra resources for the intelligence services, pointing to Home Secretary David Blunkett's revelation that associates of 11 of the hijackers passed through the UK undetected on their way to America.

Charles Kennedy
Charles Kennedy believes the US should not be given 'blank cheque' support
Such moves would not be over-reactions, Mr Duncan Smith insisted. "Something that gets in the way of doing something right has to be reviewed."

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme later the Tory leader warned that the line between terrorism and organised crime "is almost non-existent in certain areas".

"People should be aware that this is not about an act in a distant land. The truth is this act has its roots in just about everything we do."

Charles Kennedy is also expected to tell conference delegates of his unswerving support for action to tackle the threat.

'No revenge'

But the Lib Dem leader will also repeat his demand that retaliation should be driven by resolve to root out the evil of terrorism, rather than the desire for revenge.

The Liberal Democrats have also been cool on the idea of introducing identity cards in the UK.

Lord Ashdown said he believed Mr Kennedy's attitude reflected the opinion of most Britons as well as the government itself.

"This is the reason why: What is it that the terrorists want us to do? They want us to overreact, they want us to react in the same way as, for instance, the Israelis did in the face of suicide bombs in their cities.

"That helps them and we would be foolish if we did that."

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Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative leader
"I think the British people want constructive opposition"
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