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 Vision: Michael Ancram
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Running as the unity candidate
Running as the unity candidate

Presenting himself as "the unity candidate", Michael Ancram deliberately eschewed promising any exciting, breathtaking innovations should he become Conservative leader. Instead, regrouping, taking stock of core Tory values and reassessing how to apply them to modern Britain was top of his agenda.

He saw it as a lengthy process which must not be rushed, and his unflamboyant, non-confrontational style as best suited to lead a party which is in crisis - “to reach out to all corners of our damaged party and to bring us together within those common principles which make us all conservatives”, was his pitch.

To this end he would have established a permanent commission involving the whole party - as well as sympathetic think tanks - from top to bottom, with a brief to "think the unthinkable" and be fully involved in putting forward ideas in the process of renewal the Tories must undergo. The Tony Blair leadership approach of delivering repeated and disorienting shocks to his party’s core support was not an example he would have followed.

Unlike all his leadership rivals bar Ken Clarke, Ancram is not a fierce Eurosceptic. Neither has any particular pro-Europeanism been discernible through his career. As he himself puts it, he was the only contender lacking "divisive policies" on the issue.

But he also had a fair idea of what his parliamentary colleagues will wear and has conceded that an Ancram shadow cabinet, while it could have included pro-Europeans, would keep them out of sensitive jobs like shadow chancellor and foreign affairs spokesman. They would also have had to "withhold comment" on the single currency until any referendum on joining it.

Ancram's past record shows a deft switching of positions when the political climate has demanded it. Back in the mid-1970s Ancram was pro-devolution and a supporter of proportional representation for Scotland, issues he rowed back from in later years. He also reversed his anti-hanging stance to back the death penalty for terrorists and murderers of police officers.






Audio/Video Clips
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All five candidates head-to-head on Question Time
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The former party chairman sets out his vision
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Michael Ancram announces his candidature, with a swipe at Michael Portillo
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