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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 06:20 GMT 07:20 UK
Tebbit calls for Tory sackings
Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit
Lord Tebbit said the Tory party is under threat
Former Tory chairman Lord Tebbit has urged Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith to rid the party of "squabbling children" and "spotty youths".

The peer also said Conservative chief executive Mark MacGregor and strategy director Dominic Cummings should be sacked.


Iain Duncan Smith needs to clear the squabbling children out of Central Office

Lord Tebbit

Lord Tebbit's outburst follows a spate of apparent in-fighting surrounding the controversial sacking of David Davis as party chairman.

A split within the party has pitted so-called modernisers - who want to make the Tories more inclusive - against traditionalists who want to keep fighting Labour on taxation.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Lord Tebbit warned that the Tory leader was being undermined by "spotty youths, researchers, assistants and party apparatchiks".

'Good team'

"Iain Duncan Smith needs to clear the squabbling children out of Central Office," Lord Tebbit writes.


It appears, if anything, to be a battle about personalities

Lord Fowler
Mr MacGregor, ex-leader of the Federation of Conservative students which was shut down by Lord Tebbit during his time as party chairman, was singled out for particular criticism.

But Lord Tebbit also attacked the calibre of staff employed in Central Office.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme they were too willing to "gossip to reporters...with their critical analysis based on two years of experience."

'Virtue of loyalty'

Mr Duncan Smith should get a "higher calibre of more experienced people" in Central Office and "make it very plain that their job is to obey orders and not go off out criticising people who have appointed them," Lord Tebbit said.

Dominic Cummings
Dominic Cummings insists he is not behind in-fighting
"Iain, as a former army officer, should know the virtues of loyalty in a chain of command," he added.

Lord Tebbit blamed what he called the "loony right" libertarian wing of the party for the in-fighting.

But he said the Tories' current lack of concrete policies meant there was nothing to talk about but factionalism.

'Nose-diving' party

Former Tory minister and party chairman Lord Fowler called for an end to the internal feuding, which was causing the party "tremendous damage".

"Most of the party are completely puzzled by what is taking place.

"It obviously isn't a battle in the sense of a political battle about causes, it appears, if anything, to be a battle about personalities," he told BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

He added: "I think that we haven't been able to come out of a nose-dive that we did through the 1990s.

"We lost two elections in a row by massive majorities, we still don't seem to actually learn the lesson of it."

'Half-pregnant with policies'

But, speaking earlier, Tunbridge Wells MP Archie Norman, who is on the modernising wing of the party, denied the Conservatives were riven by in-fighting.


We have got to stop boring people about irrelevant issues

Nicholas Soames, Conservative MP
"In the last year we have seen relatively little factionalism in the party. With one or two exceptions, it has been at peace with itself."

But he conceded the lack of firm policies was creating tension.

"At the moment the party is half-pregnant with policies and a lot of people are impatient with that process."

'Intelligent people'

Francis Maude, another leading figures on the modernising wing of the party, said Lord Tebbit was plain "wrong" to criticise Tory HQ.

He said voters wanted "thoughtful intelligent people who seem to be living on the same planet".

He also defended Mr Cummings and Mr MacGregor.

"I think these are good people who are doing a good job."

'Islington weirdos'

He said Mr Duncan Smith was "doing the right things" to revive Tory fortunes and should be given time to prove himself.

Mr Cummings, who joined the Tories earlier this year from the anti-euro No Campaign, has categorically denied being behind the in-fighting which led to the sacking of David Davies as party chairman.

But former minister Nicholas Soames backed Lord Tebbit by saying Central Office was in need of a shake-up.

"Iain (Duncan Smith) is a decent, honourable man but Central Office is full of idiotic minor functionaries who haven't got the foggiest idea how to run a serious party," Mr Soames said.

"We have got to stop boring people about irrelevant issues, like how many gay candidates we have, and concentrate on issues that matter to ordinary decent people instead of a few weirdos in Islington."

See also:

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18 Jul 02 | Politics
15 Aug 02 | Politics
24 Jan 02 | Politics
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