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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 October, 2003, 15:19 GMT
Witness: IDS vows to fight on
By Mark Davies
BBC News Online political reporter

It would have been a good day to be in the stepladder hire business.

A big huddle of photographers and reporters had gathered around the entrance to Tory central office to await the arrival of party leader Iain Duncan Smith for his dramatic statement of defiance.

Mr Duncan Smith with wife Betsy

As the well-prepared perched high above the media throng, others - caught out by the sudden announcement of a statement from the Conservative leader - hurried across Smith Square carrying stepladders as the crowd swelled.

Not that all those present were from the media - curious onlookers stopped to take in the scene, while workmen across the elegant square took time out for a peek at the unfolding political drama.

Two passers-by debated which of the television political editors they preferred as the reporters stood side by side talking to the nation.

When he arrived, Mr Duncan Smith - arm in arm with wife Betsy - was still smiling. There was even a cheery wave for the cameras.

Nods

Wearing the determined look he's had cause to perfect in recent weeks, he welcomed the opportunity to fight his corner now that 25 MPs had come forward to call for a vote of confidence in his leadership, he said. In fact he was pleased about it.

Alongside him Tory chairman Theresa May wore a fixed grim stare. Shadow chancellor Michael Howard, deputy leader Michael Ancram and shadow home secretary Oliver Letwin had also chosen a solemn look.

There was no wave today, but no doubt Mr Duncan Smith will be happy to oblige on Wednesday evening - if he is still in a position to draw crowds to Tory headquarters, that is
All nodded their support as Mr Duncan Smith insisted he would fight the confidence vote and win the day.

It lasted less than two minutes, by which time the crowd had grown to around 200.

"Iain, can we have a wave?" called a photographer as the Tory leader turned on his heels and headed for the door to central office.

There was no wave today, but no doubt Mr Duncan Smith will be happy to oblige on Wednesday evening - if he is still in a position to draw crowds to Tory headquarters, that is.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative leader
"I will absolutely submit my name for a renewed mandate to lead the party to the general election"



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