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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 5 November, 2002, 13:44 GMT
Soldier to rebel to leader
Iain Duncan Smith
Duncan Smith has tried to broaden the party's appeal
Iain Duncan Smith knows all about rebellion against the party leadership, having been at the heart of it so many times himself.

He was often at the centre of the parliamentary Euro-troubles that seriously destabilised John Major's government, helping to orchestrate vote after vote against his own side on the Maastricht Bill in 1992 and 1993.

Baroness Thatcher
Duncan Smith is close to the former PM
Nevertheless he defied conventional political wisdom in September 2001 to become the Tory Party's eighth leader since Winston Churchill, fighting off heavyweights Ken Clarke and Michael Portillo to claim the crown after the Conservatives' second landslide general election defeat.

But Mr Duncan Smith's history puts him in a weak position when it comes to issuing demands for loyalty.

'Quiet man'

Since become Tory leader, the former Scots Guardsman has tried to prove his determination to make the Tories electable once more by presenting himself at the party's annual conference as a "quiet man".

He has warned his many detractors that he would not shirk in his mission to transform his party.

He has confounded traditionalist Tory expectations of his leadership by distancing himself from his right-wing roots, adopting some of the "inclusiveness" rhetoric the modernising wing of his party.

He has taken action to tackle racism and extreme elements in his party, most notably with the sacking of veteran MP Ann Winterton for publicly cracking a racist joke about throwing a Pakistani off a train.

He has also sought to broaden the Tories' appeal by focusing more on issues like the public services and less on Europe and the single currency.

But he has not been able to stop the widening split between modernisers who want the party to move reforms through more quickly and the old guard that prefers the status quo.

Tory infighting

This was marked by the bungled sacking right-winger David Davis, a one-time leadership contender, as party chairman while he was holidaying with his family.

Since before the party's October conference, the knives were out for Mr Duncan Smith.

Duncan Smith's CV
Born April 1954
Joined Tory Party in 1981
Contested Bradford West 1987
Elected as MP for Chingford 1992
Social security shadow 1997-99
Defence shadow 1999-2001
Party leader 2001-
In the most public show of Tory infighting on Monday, rebels abstained or voted against his hardline stance opposing government plans to allow unmarried and gay couples to adopt.

It was not the ride the Chingford MP had hoped to get when he was voted in as leader.

Endorsed by Lord Tebbit as "a remarkably normal family man with children", Mr Duncan Smith rose to the top incredibly quickly, having been first elected in 1992 and unlike his equally prodigious predecessor, having no experience of government.

Indeed, he was notable in his first Parliament for his disloyalty as one of the few new MPs to join the Maastricht rebellions.

Support from Thatcher

A former army officer, who saw active service in Northern Ireland, he was a shadow defence secretary under William Hague.

He is generally seen as an admirer of US society and has extensive contacts among Republican politicians and the defence establishment.

An active Christian, Mr Duncan Smith joined the Tory party in 1981, after being profoundly affected by Lady Thatcher's election victory in 1979.

He is said to be close to the former prime minister, who was reported to be an unofficial backer of his campaign.

Lady Thatcher is believed to have been behind a propaganda coup which saw Mr Duncan Smith hold a meeting with George W Bush's defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, before his UK opposite number Geoff Hoon had a chance to brief him on EU proposals for a rapid reaction force.

Father of four

He is fiercely opposed to any moves towards a potential European army and that he believes the UK should back American plans for a National Missile Defence system.

In the 1997 battle for the Tory leadership Mr Duncan Smith not only rejected William Hague to back leading Eurosceptic John Redwood, but he ran his campaign.

Only after Mr Redwood was knocked out of the contest did Mr Duncan Smith swing behind the eventual winner.

As social security spokesman he led Tory opposition to major planks of the government's programme such as welfare to work.

He is married with four children; his wife Elizabeth is a secretary.

His father was a World War II pilot before he went into business; his mother was a ballet dancer.


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05 Nov 02 | Politics
11 Oct 02 | Politics
11 Oct 02 | Politics
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