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Monday, 23 September, 2002, 09:48 GMT 10:48 UK
Tories 'not in disarray'
Iain Duncan Smith meets hunt protester
Mr Duncan Smith wants to broaden the party's appeal
Iain Duncan Smith has denied his leadership of the Conservative Party is in crisis following the departure of a key aide.

I know exactly where we are going

Iain Duncan Smith
Mr Duncan Smith's hand-picked strategy director Dominic Cummings walked out last week following reports of in-fighting at Conservative headquarters.

Mr Cummings is thought to have played an important role in efforts to broaden the party's appeal by presenting it as the defenders of the vulnerable in society.

But Mr Duncan Smith has insisted his leadership - and his vision of "compassionate Conservatism" - is still on course.

And he pledged to use next month's party conference to "flesh out" policy details in key areas such as health, education and crime.

Health 'crisis'

Asked on BBC One's On the Record if his leadership was now in disarray, Mr Duncan Smith replied: "I'm not in disarray.

"I know exactly where we are going. Our programme has not changed.

"The party and anybody who disagrees with this will just have to follow.

"What we are about to do is to explain to the British people that the Conservative Party believes that the priorities for us are solving the crisis in the health service, improving the quality of our schools and getting more policemen on our streets."

'Five giants'

Tackling child poverty and the insecurity of the elderly were also priorities, he added.

He said they were two of the "five giants" threatening society, which he recently outlined in a keynote policy speech.

"These are our priorities. They are not going to change," he added.

"At conference you will see us begin to flesh out how we are going to deal with this."

Section 28

Mr Duncan Smith's stance on Section 28 of the Local Government Act - which bans the promotion of homosexuality by local authorities - has been by portrayed by some commentators as a "make or break" issue for the Tory leader.

Ministers will attempt to repeal Section 28 when Parliament returns, but some right wing Tories - including former party chairman and shadow deputy prime minister David Davis - have reportedly threatened to resign if Mr Duncan Smith backs the government's stance.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "I believe the principle behind Section 28 is that children who are under the authority of adults other than their parents must be protected in case adults beyond those teachers have particular desires or views.

"We will look at this and decide how best to do that."


Meanwhile, Mr Duncan Smith has written the foreword for a new book of Tory essays, There is Such a Thing As Society, which sets out the 12 principles of compassionate Conservatism to guide a future Tory government.

The book is an attempt to draw a line under the aggressively individualistic philosophy of Margaret Thatcher, who famously said there was "no such thing" as society.

In his foreword, Mr Duncan Smith claims the Tory party has succeeded in defeating Socialist state planning and centralism, and now needed to go back to its roots.

He hits out at Labour's obsession with auditing and targets - "which means if it can't be counted, it doesn't count" - and underlines his belief in family, community and charity.

And he says the Tories need to develop a "broader understanding" of people's aspirations.

"We all dream dreams, we all have ambitions, we all want success - but that doesn't just take place in a world of aggressive, go-getting, upwardly mobile individual achievement," Mr Duncan Smith writes.

Showbiz party

Mr Duncan Smith is reportedly planning to boost the Tories' image by hosting a lavish celebrity party at The Ivy restaurant, in the West End of London.

According to press reports, the party is being organised by showbusiness impressario Jonathan Shalit.

Mr Shalit represents GMTV presenter Esther McVey, who reportedly wants to become a Tory MP.

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