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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 October 2005, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Contender: Liam Fox
Liam Fox
Liam Fox recently announced he is to marry

Born: 22 September 1961
Job: Shadow foreign secretary
Education: St Bride's High School, East Kilbride, Glasgow university
Family: Engaged to be married, no children

On his party's future:"As a party, we have allowed ourselves to be portrayed as purely pragmatic, with too little principle. We Conservatives have a duty, as members of a strong and free liberal society, to speak up for the oppressed and for those who speak up for themselves often in the face of considerable dangers."

What the press say: "Among his small but enthusiastic band of followers, Dr Fox is seen as the Tories' answer to Tony Blair. Others feel that his permanent grin and chirpy manner are the last thing the party needs," Sunday Telegraph.


PROFILE

A Eurosceptic who is seen as being on the right of the party, Liam Fox is a gregarious and likeable figure with a talent for self-promotion.

His approachable, open manner has certainly helped boost his fan club on the Tory benches but he has also managed to walk the fine line between popularity and appearing to be a political lightweight.

Since revealing his leadership ambitions, he has seldom been out of the headlines - abseiling down a 25-storey tower for charity, rushing to the aid of a collapsed tourist in Westminster and saving the life of a peer who suffered a severe epileptic fit.

"There are times when duty calls and I did what any doctor would have done," Dr Fox, a former GP, told reporters.

First elected to Parliament in 1992, Dr Fox rose quickly through the ranks, becoming a government whip and later a Foreign Office minister when the Conservatives were in power.

CONFERENCE RATING
CV: Liam Fox, 44, shadow foreign secretary
Key Quote:"You don't set an agenda for your future by trashing your past."
Best joke: "I play tennis with David Cameron and we're friends even though he beats me - though I do not intend to make habit of it."
Ovations: 23 rounds of applause and a two minute standing ovation finale
Speech length: 23 minutes
Name drops: Paid tribute to all of his leadership rivals and Michael Howard
Nick Assinder's verdict: Fox won over conference by waving the Union Flag

He was initially seen as a little gaffe-prone, with a penchant for near-the-knuckle humour (he was once forced to make a public apology after describing The Spice Girls as "three dogs and a blackbird"), but quickly developed a reputation as a capable and reliable performer.

He held the health brief under both William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith and became one of the most convincing frontbench performers.

He pioneered the Conservatives' "patients' passports" policy, which would allow patients to choose where they get treatment or even take 60% of the cost of operations out of the NHS to go private.

He led Michael Howard's campaign for the party leadership in 2003, and was rewarded with the job of co-party chairman with Lord Saatchi, driving media, policy and campaigning issues.

Engagement

He worked hard to breathe new life into the Conservative grass roots, sharing the credit, with Australian strategist Lynton Crosby, for sharpening up the party's campaigning style at the general election.

He replaced Michael Ancram as shadow foreign secretary after the election, giving him the perfect platform to demonstrate his leadership credentials.

But the French and Dutch "no" votes have robbed him of the opportunity to get his teeth into the government over the European Constitution.

Dr Fox was mentioned in the sleeve notes of the debut album of his friend Natalie Imbruglia, sparking rumours of a romance with the ex-Neighbours' star - and he certainly caused a stir in Westminster when he introduced her to friends and colleagues.

However, he recently announced his engagement to his long-term girlfriend, Jesme Baird, adding another bit of glamour to his image.





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