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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Tory leader: Back me or get out
Iain Duncan Smith
Duncan Smith spells out his mission
Iain Duncan Smith has fought back against his Tory critics and launched a savage attack on the prime minister in his keynote speech to the Conservative conference.

Speaking from a podium in the middle of party members in the Blackpool ballroom, he told his doubters: "Don't work for Tony Blair - get on board".

And after last year telling the Tories not to underestimate "the quiet man", he said: "The quiet man is here to stay and he's turning up the volume."

He received 18 standing ovations during his address, plus a two minute welcome and nine minutes of applause at the end.

Mr Duncan Smith - who unveiled "the IDS card" setting out his beliefs and values - moved to face down his critics after a week of headlines about plots against him.

We must destroy this double-dealing, deceitful, incompetent, shallow, inefficient, ineffective, corrupt, mendacious, fraudulent, shameful, lying government, once and for all
Iain Duncan Smith

In a speech which won a standing ovation from Tory activists, he told malcontents: "You either want my mission or you want Tony Blair. There is no third way."

The message to his internal critics from his one hour, two minute speech was that the only alternative to his leadership was electoral suicide.

It later emerged that former Treasury minister John Maples - who was accused of canvassing support for a leadership challenge - will be called in by the party's chief whip for a "career development interview".

In his speech Mr Duncan Smith said it was the prime minister who should go, and he accused Mr Blair of leading a "deceitful, incompetent, shameful and lying government".

"Today I have delivered. I stand before you with the most radical policy agenda of any party aspiring to government since 1979," he said.

"They said we couldn't win the May elections and we did. We are the largest and fastest growing party of local government.

"My mission is to take the Conservative Party back to government."

No alternative

Turning to Labour, he delivered a highly personal attack on the prime minister, saying he sees himself as "god in 'Blairworld'".

Labour scandals since 1997 had shown the government's "dark side" but the treatment of government weapons expert Dr David Kelly was Mr Blair's "blackest act", he said.

"This government used Dr David Kelly as a pawn in its battle with the BBC - his death was first and foremost a tragedy for those who loved him. But it shamed our country."

"Plenty of pointing, outstretched arms and even the occasional come-and-have-a-go-if-you-think-you're-hard-enough glare."

He accused the prime minister of lying over his role in the public naming of Dr Kelly as the source for the BBC's controversial Iraq dossier story.

And he warned: "A government machine willing to smear the Paddington train crash survivors and Dr Kelly won't think twice about smearing me.

"A political party prepared to use the tragedy of 11 September to bury bad news will do everything it can to hide the scale of its own failure."

Mr Duncan Smith also attacked the Liberal Democrats, saying: "They are not a party fit for government and we are going after them."

He said the range of policies set out by the Tories this week on health, education and pensions would win votes and make lives better.

The Tories are about as relevant as the BNP and no speech will change that.
Barry Lowry, London UK

He accused Mr Blair of not having the guts to call a referendum on the euro or on the proposed EU constitution - which he described as a "threat to our very nationhood".

He said the Tories' mission was to bring hope to law abiding British people angry with a Labour government which was on their backs when they didn't need them, and never there when they did need them.

"Our mission, our duty, is to fight for them, to be strong for them and together to win for them," he said.

The BBC's Mark Mardell
"He told them he'd turned the party around and had a mission"

Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative leader
"The quiet man is here to stay and he is turning up the volume"

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