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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
Tories 'will put trust in people'
Duncan Smith: No going back

Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith is attempting to switch the focus from his party's internal battles to the policies he hopes will win him the next general election.

With the second day of the Conservative conference themed as "Helping the Vulnerable", Mr Duncan Smith said he was not asking voters to trust him - but instead saying that he would put his faith in them.


It is not about going back to anything, it is about going forward

Iain Duncan Smith
He told BBC Breakfast that it would be "deeply cynical" to expect the public to view him suddenly "as a caring politician from a caring party".

Mr Duncan Smith was speaking a day after his chairman warned the party that without radical reform, it would suffer "slaughter" at the next general election.

The Tory leader is attempting to hammer home his message that the Conservatives are developing policies to help the most vulnerable in society.

No deviation

Amid attacks on his leadership from some senior party figures, Mr Duncan Smith has been telling representatives at the conference that he will not be deviated from his plans.

He has said that those who question his leadership will soon understand that he has no intention of being knocked off course.

In his latest policy announcement, the Tory leader has revealed plans to offer charities a major role in providing social services, saying that under a Conservative government they would be able to tender for services currently supplied by the state.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said the modernisation of the Tory party was not the important factor for voters.

Flesh out

"They are not interested in what goes on in the internal mechanisms of the party," he said.

"What they want to know is what's going to affect them most in their lives, and has the party changed in terms of the way it applies itself to resolving those problems?"

He said the reform of the public services was his top priority and that the conference was the first opportunity to flesh out the party's policies.

Mr Duncan Smith attempted to distance himself from suggestions that he would seek to end what Margaret Thatcher had started if elected as prime minister.

He said the Thatcher government had reformed the economy for the 21st century - his aim was to do the same for the public services.

'Fair chance'

"It is not about going back to anything, it is about going forward," he said.

The Tory leader left open the option to force constituency chairmen to choose more women and ethnic minority candidates.

He said: "We have all sorts of powers and I am not going to talk about what powers I intend to use now."

He said: "What (people) need to know from us is that we are serious about giving people a fair chance, and that applies to people from ethnic backgrounds as much as it does to women."

The Tory conference on Tuesday is themed "Helping the Vulnerable", with speeches from shadow deputy prime minister David Davis and shadow chancellor Michael Howard.

Devolving power

Work and pensions spokesman David Willetts will also address representatives.

Mr Duncan Smith was unveiling the party's plans for the voluntary services at a breakfast meeting.

Under his plans, charities would be encouraged to bid for contracts to run projects such as drug rehabilitation units and battered wives' refuges.

Tory officials said the proposal was part of the new agenda of devolving power away from Whitehall.

Mr Duncan Smith will underline the message during a visit to a local YMCA project on Tuesday morning.

And Mr Willetts will visit a hostel for the homeless.

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The BBC's Jonathan Beale
"The message today is helping the vulnerable"

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07 Oct 02 | Education
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