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Portillo wants the Tories to be a party of ideas
Portillo wants the Tories to be a party of ideas

In common with his leadership rivals, Michael Portillo put public services - particularly, health, education and transport - at the top of his agenda, declaring: "The Conservative Party needs to show it is passionate about the way our children are taught, the medical care our families receive, people struggling with public transport and people's fear of crime."

A non-controversial stance, but his strong remarks about re-opening the debate on the decriminalisation of cannabis and his suggestion the that Tory party should review its commitment to review Clause 28 may have cost him valuable support.

Had he won Portillo said he wanted the Tories be a party of ideas and was keen to see greater private involvement in health care on a European model.

But just as important as policy was the tone in which Portillo couched his pitch - both to the party and the wider public. Inclusiveness was the key, and he seemed keen to attract supporters from all ethnic backgrounds, genders and sexual orientations.

He was also at pains to avoid indulging in personality attacks on his rivals, saying he wished to conduct a campaign that is always "thoughtful and moderate".

That big tent agenda even extended to attracting the support of those in his party who disagreed with him over the fraught issue of the single European currency.

Audio/Video Clips
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All five candidates head-to-head on Question Time
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Michael Portillo’s official campaign launch, June 2001
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Michael Portillo announces he will run, June 2001
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The former defence secretary wins Kensington and Chelsea by-election, November 1999
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Portillo reveals past homosexual experiences, September 1999
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