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Saturday, 1 September, 2001, 15:53 GMT 16:53 UK
Scots quiz Tory hopefuls
Conservative leadership hopefuls Iain Duncan Smith and Ken Clarke brought their campaigns to Scotland in a bid to win over the party faithful.

Both men gave brief speeches to a 500-strong gathering in Perth before taking a dozen or so questions.

Mr Clarke was first on the platform - his tight schedule meant he had to disappear over the Border soon after addressing the special one-day conference.

The pro-European could not escape questions on the single currency and future membership of the EU.

audience
Iain Duncan Smith receives a standing ovation from some
The rattled former chancellor was keen to emphasis that the party should look past such a divisive issue.

He said: "I served on cabinets where people had different views on Europe, but we did not have an ideological battle in public.

"I cannot see for the life of me why my views are decisive on an issue which has divided us for years."

Mr Clarke was also asked how he would increase youth membership and what he would do with the Barnett formula.

Opposite number Iain Duncan Smith began with a quip about the hustings clashing with the Scotland v Croatia World Cup qualifying match.

'Take on the enemy'

But with the joking out of the way, the right-winger delivered a Churchillian-style address littered with military metaphors.

And his final message "come with me, together united, we know where the enemy is and we can taken them on" went down well, and sections of the audience responded with a standing ovation.

Questions on youth membership, the future of the chairman of the Scottish Tories and asylum seekers were also asked.

Mr Duncan Smith admitted that the 1997 defeat left the party "deeply scarred" and at this year's election people were so disillusioned with the Tories they decided not to vote at all.

Voting nears an end

He was quizzed briefly on Europe, but his response was much the same as Mr Clarke's.

Mr Duncan Smith, like his opposite number, urged the party not to get too bogged down on the issue.

The former shadow defence spokesman turned on the Labour government and said: "Mr Blair is scared of a referendum, I say bring it on, we will chase him and we will chase him on health, and on education and here in Scotland you will chase the executive in the same way."

The party's London headquarters announced on Friday that more than half of its members had already voted in the leadership contest.

Acting Tory chairman David Prior said that 181,300 votes - from the 318,000 membership - had been cast at the half way stage in the ballot.

With voting due to close in 11 days time, both candidates now know how many votes are still up for grabs.

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"This is a grimly serious contest"

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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
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