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Friday, 11 October, 2002, 06:14 GMT 07:14 UK
Duncan Smith: The Tories are back
Iain and Betsy Duncan Smith after the speech
The Duncan Smiths after the keynote speech

The Tories are on the road back to power, Iain Duncan Smith has told his party conference in Bournemouth.

The Conservative leader, whose keynote address closed the annual gathering, also warned his detractors that he would not waver in his mission to transform his party.

He told Tory representatives: "Go out there and tell the world - the Conservatives are back."


This will be remembered as the week when the Conservatives began the slow, hard road back to power

Iain Duncan Smith
He said his opponents should not underestimate "the determination of the quiet man".

The Tory leader hailed the policies on health, education, housing and crime set out by his frontbench team this week.

He said: "This will be remembered as the week when the Conservatives began the slow, hard road back to power."

He said he would fight for "decency and compassion", adding: "This week we have rediscovered the courage of our convictions."


He acknowledged past mistakes by Conservative governments, saying that while the economy was transformed under Margaret Thatcher, the quality of people's lives had declined in other ways.

He said the party must also learn the lessons of its 1997 election defeat.

And he underlined his quest for "compassionate Conservatism", saying: "We believe that the privileges of the few must be turned into the opportunities of the many.

The speech was warmly received in the hall
"Above all we believe that to build a better society you must trust people."

The Tory leader attacked Labour, saying public services had deteriorated, causing suffering to the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

He said more power should be given to communities to help them shape their lives: "It's time to start trusting people - because it is only by trusting people that we can make Britain work again."

He stressed the importance of families and of providing support through the voluntary sector - with Conservatives "showing compassion without ever feeling that their hearts have to be stitched onto their sleeves".

Mr Duncan Smith said his experience of redundancy and his military background had made him more determined to achieve his goals.

"I've known danger and I've tasted disappointment," he said.

'Quiet man'

"When I say a thing, I mean it. When I set myself a task, I do it.

"When I settle on a course, I stick to it. Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man.

"I will continue to do what I believe to be right. I am not here to waste my time or yours going through the motions of opposition for the next three years."


Never again can we take the people of Britain for granted

Iain Duncan Smith
In what is acknowledged as being a vital moment in his one-year-old leadership, he conceded that the previous Tory government caused people hurt.

And his message to senior Tories sniping at his leadership was to either get on board or get left behind.

Without naming names, it appears he was targeting the likes of Lord Tebbit, Kenneth Clarke and Michael Heseltine, whose remarks helped give the conference a troubled start.

Hurt and anger

Mr Duncan Smith said that in the 1980s "the challenges changed but we did not change to meet those challenges.

High hopes? Speech is a high-risk strategy
"All of us here want to remember the good things we did and there were many.

"But beyond this hall people too often remember the hurt we caused and the anger they felt.

"Well, I say this to you - never again. Never again can we take the people of Britain for granted.

"Until people see that our party has learned the lessons of 1997, we will go on getting the result of 1997."

Challenge

He added: "The party that I lead will live in the present and prepare for the future.

"So to those who want to re-fight the battles of the past, and to those who want to live in the past, I simply say this - you stay in the past, we are moving on."

The speech followed the over-riding theme of the week in Bournemouth, that the Tories must change by broadening their appeal in order to regain power.

That effort began with policies including plans for a new "tough but caring" law and order programme that would tackle crime while offering intensive rehabilitation for young offenders.

Power

Under the Tories, NHS hospitals would be given powers to raise and invest their own finances.


This week we have rediscovered the courage of our convictions

Iain Duncan Smith
And parents would be given the power to take their children out of failing inner city schools and set up their own.

There are also plans to extend the "right to buy" to housing association properties.

The policies were published before Mr Duncan Smith's speech in a document pointing towards the next election manifesto.

The Tory leader also backed the government's approach to Iraq, saying action against Saddam Hussein must come "before it's too late".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Marr
"The Tories allowed themselves an eruption of self-belief"
Tory Leader Iain Duncan Smith

George Pascoe-Watson, The Sun
"I thought it was a defining moment for Iain Duncan Smith"
 VOTE RESULTS
Duncan Smith's speech: Were you convinced?

Yes
 35.18% 

No
 64.82% 

4480 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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10 Oct 02 | Politics
10 Oct 02 | Politics
10 Oct 02 | Politics
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