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Tuesday, 8 October, 2002, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Alternative conference: Theresa's people speak
Turtle Bay Cafe
Turtle recall: Apathy reigns in Bournemouth

The Turtle Bay Cafe in Bournemouth is the venue for BBC News Online's alternative conference during the Tory Party's meeting in the town.
Theresa May could be on to something.

The Conservative Party chairman reckons people are fed up with "yah-boo" politics and have lost faith in politicians because of their unprincipled behaviour.

Bring Margaret Thatcher back - she is the best prime minister I have ever known

William Hogg
And if the holidaymakers enjoying a quiet cup of tea in the Turtle Bay Cafe on Bournemouth's sea front are anything to go by, she is spot on.

Apathy and suspicion were the ruling emotions as BBC News Online attempted to stir up a little debate amid the underwater-themed murals, in an annexe of the town's Oceanarium.

"It's Iain something isn't it?," Andrew Salmon says when asked the name of the Tory leader.

Bournemouth Oceanarium
The Turtle Bay Cafe is part of the Oceanarium
The 29-year-old, who was down for a long weekend from Colchester, Essex, admitted: "I don't really take a huge interest in politics. I don't think it makes any real difference."

His girlfriend, Lyndsay Morad-Tehrani, 23, said: "They should stop squabbling with each other all the time."

Politicians annoyed Andrew because they "treat people like idiots".

"It always seems so cloak and dagger. If they could just be a bit more open."

IDS 'not strong'

Susan Baldwin and William Hogg, from Maidenhead, had no problem recalling Mr Duncan Smith's name, although they were not aware that the Tory conference was underway a few yards away in the Bournemouth International Centre.

Andrew Salmon
Mr Salmon is not keen on politicians
Theresa May is the couple's local MP and they are both members of Maidenhead Conservative association, although "mainly on the social side".

However, their views will not have been music to the ears of Mrs May, who is attempting to project a more modern image for the party.

Mrs Baldwin, 60, said: "Iain Duncan Smith doesn't come across as very strong.

"If it was Ken Clarke he might do better, but then he is very pro-euro and I can't accept that.

"I am an island lady, I'm afraid. We have always been free nation and I don't want us to be ruled by Europe. It galls us, if I can say that.

"To be honest, the French people are not keen on us."

'Bring back Thatcher'

Mr Hogg said: "Bring Margaret Thatcher back. She is a hard act to follow. She is the best prime minister I have ever known."

Lyndsay Morad-Tehrani
Lyndsay Morad-Tehrani wants MPs to stop squabbling
The couple were sceptical about Mr Duncan Smith's support for Tony Blair's policy on Iraq.

They also thought Mr Duncan Smith's attempts to appear "nice" didn't ring true.

"A lot of people said about Mrs Thatcher 'we don't like you, but we respect what you are doing'," Mr Hogg added.

'Terrible' NHS

Mrs May may have fared better with Labour-voting mum-of-two Miriam Antonio, 28, who is a physiotherapist in an intensive care ward.

I think Ken Clarke would probably have been a better choice

Chris Antonio
Her views on Labour's stewardship of the health service could have been written by Tory central office.

"The extra money is going to the wrong places. It is going to management. They are just getting bigger and better offices," she said.

"We are so short-staffed because everyone is leaving to join the private sector. It is terrible and its just getting worse."

Tories 'not credible'

But Mrs Antonio, who is down for the week from London, is sceptical of the Tories ability to do a better job.

Husband Chris, 32, said: "I grew up under Thatcher so there is no way I would ever vote for the Tories.

"There a lot of people like us, who don't get enough detail about politics.

"The bottom line is that Labour will win the next election because they have such a big lead. The Tories have not got a credible leadership.

"I think Labour have got one more term to actually get results."

Clarke 'a better choice'

He said the Tories had made a "mistake" in making Iain Duncan Smith their leader.

"At the time it was amazing. The average man in the street had never heard of him.

"I think Ken Clarke would probably have been a better choice.

"He is the one person who would have actually appealed to the Labour voter because he come across as being so down-to-earth."

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

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07 Oct 02 | Education
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