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Saturday, 1 September, 2001, 16:00 GMT 17:00 UK
McLetchie makes Tory unity plea
David McLetchie
Mr McLetchie offered wholehearted support for the victor.
The head of Scotland's Tories, David McLetchie, has urged party members to get behind whichever candidate wins the leadership battle.

But he said he would not publicly single out whom he wanted to win the contest involving Ken Clarke and Iain Duncan Smith.

Mr McLetchie told the Scottish Conservative Conference in Perth: "I have expressed and will express no public preference between them.

"But what I do pledge is my wholehearted unequivocal 100% support for the victor, and I expect everyone else in this party to have the sense and maturity to do the same.


But what I do pledge is my wholehearted unequivocal 100% support for the victor, and I expect everyone else in this party to have the sense and maturity to do the same.

Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie
"I've no time for folk who go off in a huff when there's work to be done."

Mr McLetchie asserted his authority over the party in a barnstorming speech at the party's autumn conference.

He brushed aside reports that he is under threat as party leader by calling for "unity" and leading an attack on political opponents.

A report in the Scotsman newspaper had claimed there was a groundswell within the Tory ranks that wanted to use the UK party leadership to bring about a change in the Scottish leadership.

Mr McLetchie said Tory political opponents were formable enough without the party wasting its energies on petty squabbles.

Left of centre

After rising to the podium to the sound of a standing ovation, Mr McLetchie told delegates: "As we look ahead to the next Scottish elections in 2003 our task is to highlight the failures of the executive and spell out the Conservative alternative."

He attacked the outdated, collectivist, left of centre, modes of consensus which he said embraced all the other Scottish parties.

He said: "They all share the common assumption that all Scotland's economic and social problems can only be solved by greater government interference, higher public spending and inevitably higher taxes.

"The Conservatives are the only party that offers an alternative.

"We are gradually winning the arguments. We must have the courage and strength of our convictions to argue our case in parliaments, councils and constituencies the length and breadth of Scotland."

"That strength will only come from unity which is essential if we are to achieve our aims.

Edward McMillan-Scott
Edward McMillan-Scott: "Warning on Europe"
"Our political opponents are formable enough without us dissipating our energies in petty squabbling jealousies or ideological hair-splitting.

"We are not some fundamentalist sect riven by doctcrinal disputes on the margins of society.

"We are Scotland's oldest political party with a proud and rich history of service to our people, a party that aspires to govern again in Scotland and a party that aspires to govern again in the UK.

The conference had opened with Euro MP Struan Stevenson MEP and Tory European group leader, Edward Macmillan-Scott MEP.

Mr McMillan-Scott warned the party not repeat previous errors on Europe.

He said the Tories should unite and provide a coherent message on Europe as they did at the 1999 European Parliament elections.


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See also:

01 Sep 01 | Scotland
Duncan Smith on campaign march
01 Sep 01 | Scotland
European question rattles Clarke
01 Sep 01 | Scotland
Tories hear unity call
01 Sep 01 | Scotland
Scots Tory conference - agenda
01 Sep 01 | Scotland
Scots quiz Tory hopefuls
01 Sep 01 | Scotland
McLetchie makes Tory unity plea
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