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Last Updated: Friday, 10 June, 2005, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Duncan to run for Tory leadership
Alan Duncan
Mr Duncan warns the Tories face 'historical oblivion'
Shadow transport secretary Alan Duncan has confirmed he wants to stand for the leadership of the Conservative party.

The Conservatives' first openly gay MP said the party had "alienated a whole generation" and risked "being stuffed" at the next election.

Asked if he wanted to be a candidate for the leadership, Mr Duncan, said: "I think I'm one of about eight or nine."

But he said he had "no illusions" about his chances, adding: "I know that my parliamentary support is limited".

Leadership positions

Mr Duncan told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I know that there are a lot of us on this particular side of the party who haven't distilled around one person but more importantly I want to say things."

Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has said it is "quite likely" he will stand for the leadership.

And shadow chancellor George Osborne has meanwhile confirmed he will back fellow frontbencher David Cameron if he stands for the leadership.

Mr Osborne, who says he will not stand himself, told the ITV News Channel he had done no deals.

But he added: "If my good friend David Cameron chooses to run, I will almost certainly back him."


Michael Howard said he would resign the Tory leadership after the party lost their third general election in a row.

He is set to stay in the job until December while the leadership election rules are changed.

In a speech on Friday, Mr Duncan warned his party risked "historical oblivion" if it failed to learn to reflect modern Britain.

He argued the party appeared "socially distasteful" and "economically irrelevant".

Alienated voters?

Mr Duncan said the Tories would only regain power if they came to terms with a "crisis of identity and reputation" that had gripped them for a decade.

"Our attitudes over the last 20 years have alienated an entire generation of voters, whose respect and affection Labour have ruthlessly harnessed for themselves," he argued.

"It is impossible to exaggerate the extent to which anyone under the age of 35 is more likely to vote against us than for us.

"Anyone who denies that risks condemning us to an ever-narrower base of support, which at the moment is primarily elderly, male and rural."

'Direction under Thatcher'

Mr Duncan urged his party to rediscover the kind of direction it had under Margaret Thatcher when she was leader of the opposition.

Baroness Thatcher went on to lead the Conservatives to three successive election victories.

Mr Duncan argued the Conservatives must stop looking inwards and start looking at the country they wanted to govern.

They must also show themselves to be socially and economically liberal.

Serious qualities?

The person who achieves that could be the next prime minister, he argued.

The Rutland and Melton MP also warned the Tory rank and file that choosing a leader should not be about "such facile concepts as dream tickets or skipping one or even six generations".

It should be about serious leadership qualities and their understanding of the direction the party and country needed to take, he said.

Among those also thought to be considering standing for leader are Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Kenneth Clarke, David Davis, Liam Fox, Tim Yeo and Mr Cameron.

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