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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 15:33 GMT 16:33 UK
Fox launches Tory leadership bid
Dr Liam Fox and his fiancee Jesme Baird outside the Hillside Clubhouse in north London,.
Dr Fox poses for the cameras with fiancee Jesme Baird
Liam Fox has announced his intention to run for the leadership of the Conservative Party, saying he wanted to broaden the party's appeal.

The shadow foreign secretary said the party should concentrate on real people's concerns rather than itself.

He later spoke of his desire for British Schools to fly the Union Jack flag, copying the US and Australia.

Rivals Ken Clarke and David Davis targeted Labour's economic record in speeches also on Thursday.

'Common identity'

Dr Fox launched his leadership bid at the Hillside Clubhouse in North London, a centre for the mentally ill.

It was a deliberate contrast with Ken Clarke's launch of his campaign

Speaking to reporters outside the centre, he said that as a medical doctor issues such as mental illness were important to him.

He said his aim was for a "forward looking, confident Tory party" and one which represented the people of Great Britain, rather than Conservatives themselves.

"What we need is an agenda for the country ... We are politicians for the people we represent", he told reporters, adding that in the recent past the party had become more famous for its leadership elections than anything else.

The party had to tackle issues such as crime and the break up of the family.

"We do not do it by talking about ourselves," he added.

In his first campaign interview, he told London's Evening Standard newspaper he believed British schools should fly the Union Flag, in manner similar to schools in the US and Australia.

"I'm suggesting that all schools fly the British flag outside to emphasise to people that wherever they have come from, whatever their background, they share a common identity," he said, although he added he did not think pupils should swear an American-style allegiance to the flag.

'Good critical mass'

Earlier Dr Fox told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that he believed he had a "good critical mass" of support behind him to fight the campaign.

Asked whether he thought the leadership would be simply a battle between Ken Clarke and David Davis, he replied: "I remember people said that Iain Duncan Smith had no chance, and that Michael Portillo was a dead cert."

Eight MPs have declared their support for his campaign, which is headed by shadow Commons leader Chris Grayling.

Leadership contender Kenneth Clarke criticised Gordon Brown's reign in the Treasury in a speech on Thursday, while David Davis also berated the chancellor in an article in The Scotsman.

Former Foreign Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind is continuing his attempt to woo Tory activists on a tour of Britain.

Watch Liam Fox setting out his agenda

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