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EDITIONS
Saturday, 6 July, 2002, 10:01 GMT 11:01 UK
Maude outlines Tory C-Change
Iain Duncan Smith in the Commons
Maude: The Tories need more women candidates
Iain Duncan Smith needs to move faster to radically reform the Conservative Party and make it more attractive to voters, a former Tory minister has warned.

Francis Maude says the party needs to lure in more women and ethnic minority candidates.


To replace Conservative MPs at the last election they were exclusively straight, white males and that is not representative of Britain as a whole

Francis Maude
It should shy away from the more typical stereotype of straight, white males from traditional Conservative backgrounds, he said.

Mr Maude was speaking ahead of the first meeting on Monday of C-Change (pronounced sea change), the Tory think tank set up in the wake of chief moderniser Michael Portillo's defeat as party leader.

Under the title, "Tory Culture - Right but Repulsive", the modernising group, chaired by Mr Maude, believes the culture and image of the Conservatives is now so unappealing to much of the population, that there is little prospect of electoral victory.

'Go faster'

It now aims to press for the party to undergo the sort of cultural change that New Labour underwent during the 1980s and 90s.

Mr Maude told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that while he acknowledged that Mr Duncan Smith's leadership was going along the right lines, it needed to address the party's problems more quickly.

"I think he is doing some of the right things," he said.

Francis Maude
Maude: Conservative stereotypes put off would-be party members
"I think it needs to go faster and I don't have the confidence that he has that simply relying on exaltation and encouragement is going to work.

"He understands the problem to a very great extent but we need to go faster and with absolute determination."

Mr Maude said his colleagues needed to be wary of the assumption that power would automatically return to the party.

Broader picture

"It may happen, which will be great. In which case we would benefit from Labour's lack of popularity and lack of trust in them, but actually, I don't think we can rely on that.

"I think we have to make sure that the Conservative Party is a worthy recipient of people's trust when Labour loses it.

"What we have to do is widen ourselves, broaden ourselves.


More women, some people from ethnic minorities - people from non-traditional Conservative backgrounds

Francis Maude
"We have to show that we are ready to break out of the stereotype that people, sadly, have of us and that does require us to be quite serious about it and determined."

Mr Maude said people who wanted to join the Conservative Party were deterred by its image.

'Unfashionable brand'

"To replace Conservative MPs at the last election they were exclusively straight, white males and that is not representative of Britain as a whole," he said, adding that he would be prepared to contemplate "positive discrimination".

"I think we need to see a bench of candidates, particularly to replace retiring Tory MPs at the next election, which are genuinely much more like Britain.

"So, more women, some people from ethnic minorities - people from non-traditional Conservative backgrounds."

Mr Maude's views were supported by Tory Archie Norman, who said party had become like an "unfashionable brand". "The perception of the party is pretty dated," he said.

'Keep nerve'

"I believe that the changes in the Conservative Party need to be very far-reaching and very fundamental," he told Today.

But Tory former cabinet minister Ann Widdecombe was more suspicious.

"I think we should keep our nerve. We have had two very bad defeats in the course of five years when Labour was out for 18 years," she told Today.

"You should not be so mesmerised by the fact that you find yourself in opposition that you lose sight of what is important which is actually being able to solve the problems and create the sort of Britain that people want to live in."

See also:

21 May 02 | UK Politics
28 Feb 02 | England
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