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Thursday, 10 October, 2002, 10:09 GMT 11:09 UK
Steve Norris answers your e-mails
Steve Norris
Norris: Clash over section 28
Former minister Steve Norris is one of the leading lights in the debate over the Conservative Party's future.

The former mayoral candidate in London is tipped as the man who will lead the Tory campaign for the capital again next year.

And he has strong views on how the party should move forward to regain power.

Here Mr Norris answers a selection of your e-mailed questions.

If the Tory party is to become inclusive how is it that leading lights of the party like Michael Howard will not give a clear answer on whether or not a Tory government would scrap Section 28?
J Cahill, UK

Some of my colleagues are still worried about protecting children. I understand their concern, but I think it is unfounded and misses the point that Section 28 is homophobic, ineffective and unacceptable. I believe we will win the Section 28 battle soon.

Why do you think you failed to beat Ken Livingston at the last election for London mayor? What do you think the next conservative candidate should do to win the next time?
Eduardo, England

Ken was the ideal way to kick Blair, particularly after Labour so cynically imposed Dobson as the candidate. I had to deal with the Archer fiasco. Next time the winner will be the candidate who shows they know how to make a difference - which I know I can and Ken can't.

Steve Norris seems to be a good man in the wrong party. The Tories have left it too late to realise that economic liberalism needs to go hand in glove with social liberalism. That credo has already been appropriated by New Labour. Why doesn't Steve jump ship and come over to what would be his ideal ideological home?
Paul Doran, UK

I understand the question but I want to help bring the Tories back into the fold. And I do worry about Labour and business, Labour as a high-tax, high-spend nanny. I suppose it's hard to ditch a twenty-five year loyalty to one party, even if it is going through a rough time.

I am a Conservative activist who has admired your political judgement and views but why are you so vocal in your public criticism of the current Conservative leadership and Central office team when surely a better approach would be to fight for your views privately rather than in the full glare of the media?
Matthew Dean, Hants, England

I am not a critic of IDS - far from it. I have applauded his stance since he was elected. But I'm also clear he has to match talk with action. It looks as if that's happening now. Believe me, I have no desire to attack Iain or anyone else in his team, but I also think modernising the party has to happen urgently.

If a member of parliament "misbehaves" in his personal life, can he be trusted in his professional life?
Candida Jones, UK

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. (or, get a life)

With the result of an ICM opinion poll that put the Tories and the Lib Dems both on 24% and thus the continued decline since 1997 and also 2001, do you feel that with Ian Duncan-Smith at the helm the Conservatives can ever re-assert themselves as a party of Government?
Jonathon Ellison, UK

Yes. Despite what some pundits suggest it isn't the media image of one person that determines elections. This week has been great for us as a party that has attractive policies people can actually relate to.

The Tory elite's recent collective aspiration towards a more "caring and sharing" philosophy is laudable. However, at the core of the party, the face which the public sees at elections, are the activists who are far from being converted to the apparently 'rediscovered' Tory ethics.

How can the party truly embrace the proposed culture change rapidly enough to impact the next general election result without a root and branch purge of these people?
Mark Siddle, UK

Not easily, but you've seen at Bournemouth that change is happening faster than some of us feared. I'm optimistic. Theresa May said "No change is not an option" - I agree.

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07 Oct 02 | Education
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