Iain Duncan Smith

Conservative Leadership Eelection manifesto, 4th Sept 2001

My aim is simple. It is to serve the British people. It is to put a Conservative Government back into office. This is why I want to be Leader of the Conservative Party - and Prime Minister. I believe passionately that the Conservative Party and the nation need unity, clear leadership and direction.

Conservative beliefs are rooted in freedom, tolerance, respect for family and love of country. We value hard work and initiative. We regard wealth as a responsibility and an obligation to society. We value freedom and choice above uniformity. To be a Conservative is to recognise that when the state is too powerful, it destroys the will of the people, families and local institutions to care for the old, the sick or less fortunate. The welfare state can never be as generous, as direct or as local as the welfare society.

The Conservative Party must become electable again. We must be a credible and effective Opposition, and develop a new approach to public services - ending the 'ration book' state that locks people into NHS queues and failing schools.

To be electable, we must be united. Without unity, all our efforts will be wasted. If we want to widen our appeal to disaffected Labour and Liberal voters, first - and above all - we must be united. With clear and honest leadership, we can put the splits and failures of the past behind us and project the fresh ideas that will restore the unity and purpose of the Conservative Party.

This brief manifesto sets out how I will build on these core beliefs as party leader. It shows how our party can reach out to 21st Century Britain. If we show courage, Conservatives can occupy the common ground of British politics and inspire a new generation of voters.

This is why I am asking for your vote in this leadership election.

Iain Duncan Smith MP


The Welfare Society

Society is changing. To be a Conservative is about using the wisdom of the past for future generations, not about turning the clock back.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, people were preoccupied by standards of living, and the threat from rising prices and union power. In this new century, however, they are now preoccupied by quality of life, and what they see around them that threatens it.

Fear of crime is destroying our communities. Graffiti, vandalism and violent behaviour are now everywhere. The poor and the vulnerable are the worst affected. People feel they no longer own the streets and the communities they live in.

Labour fail to understand that a balanced and tolerant society must have the strong rule of law underpinning it. This is being eroded by a government that is weak on criminals - resulting in a reduction in quality of life for law- abiding citizens.

Why don't you feel safe even in your own home? Will your child get into a good school? Why must you wait so long for an operation? Why are the trains always late, and the roads clogged up? There is so much to enjoy in modern Britain, but still little sense that we are One Nation. The most fundamental purpose of the Conservative Party remains, even in this new century, to strengthen our society.

The best welfare is provided beyond the state - by families, caring for those they love. The key here is not state action, but action by families, communities and by all the groups and institutions to which people belong.

The Conservative Party must again be the party that believes in local accountability, in restoring people's faith in local institutions and local government. We must learn from the success of Conservatives in local government in recent years.

The Conservative Party has historically been the party of volunteering - of compassionate action. We believe in 'doing your bit', in giving something back. The state cannot get a lonely young man off drugs, console a wife grieving for her dead husband, or bring practical help to a family overwhelmed by the burdens of modern life. Only people working together can do that.

This is why, as Conservative leader, Iain would renew our commitment to an Office of Civil Society to create a public champion for the voluntary and charitable sectors, and to encourage a new generation of social entrepreneurs. There is more to public service than the public services. The welfare state is not enough. We need a welfare society.

Britain - A Free Nation in a Free World

Only Iain can unite the party on Europe. The independent nation state remains the cornerstone of accountable government. The Danish rejection of the single currency, the Irish referendum vote against the Nice Treaty and the riots in Stockholm and Genoa are all clear signs of growing unease about the way that important decisions are being removed from national democratic control. People in Britain are worried about the loss of power to Brussels.

We need free trade and co-operation in Europe, but Britain does not need or want the single currency, the Euro Army and European Government. Britain should promote a wider, more flexible European Union. The EU should serve the nations of Europe, not the nations serve the EU.

Iain's policy on the single currency is both clear and tolerant. The party will oppose scrapping the pound and will campaign against the single currency in a referendum. Iain will also be tolerant of those who support the single currency. Those in the minority who are in favour of the single currency can serve in the Shadow Cabinet - when the referendum comes, they can temporarily step down if they want to join the 'Yes' campaign.

Britain also needs to look beyond Europe. We are a successful global trading nation. As a free-trading, outward- looking nation, we have a stake in the whole global economy. In particular, Iain wants to develop our strong economic, social and cultural links across the Atlantic and globally.

Britain should join with her allies to protect the world from unstable states obtaining weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, which over the next few years will pose a greater threat to peace and stability around the world - both to UK forces abroad and to Britain and its neighbours at home.

Rewarding Hard Work and Saving

Labour do not just threaten Britain with the failing European single currency - they are smothering our economy with a blanket of regulation and business taxation. Serious imbalances are emerging - a ballooning trade deficit, a slow-down in manufacturing, a massive decline in the rate of savings and government spending which is growing faster than the economy can afford.

Labour have forced millions of pensioners into the misery of means-tested benefits and taxed the pension funds of those who work. Small businesses are drowning in a sea of new taxes and regulation. They must be free to provide higher living standards for employees and their families.

Iain is committed to keeping the Pound sterling. He will also encourage enterprise and investment, only spend what the nation can afford and reduce the burden of tax. These Conservative policies are proven to create economic stability and success throughout the world.

Caring for Our Environment

Conservatism and conservation go together. Just as Conservatives preserve and nurture the best in our society, so we must preserve our natural heritage and the future of our planet.

This should be the most natural political territory for Conservatives - everything from the disposal of household waste through the preservation of our green fields to global warming, planning, housing, transport and maintaining the rural way of life.

But governments must work with, and have faith in, people - farmers who manage our countryside, businesses and every householder. We should align people's best interests with their self-interest.

Renewable energy is key to the future. Iain has proposed tax breaks to promote the installation of solar cells on the roofs of homes and other buildings to generate electricity. Every home should have them, just as they have a fridge and an immersion heater.

Many people, young and old alike, feel strongly about the environment and want an opportunity to take action. Conservatives must renew our commitment to our natural desire to preserve and improve our environment, inspiring a new generation to participate in mainstream politics.

Public Service Beyond the State

Britain's public services need fundamental change. Voters are disillusioned with Labour's broken promises on schools and hospitals. Britain needs a new approach to public services which is not just about the state.

Conservatives need to challenge Labour's 'ration book' state, which traps people in hospital queues and failing schools. We must offer the choice and quality that people expect in every other area of life.

This means far more than just increasing public spending. We are almost the only country in the developed world where health care is solely a matter for the state - no wonder the NHS is in crisis. Yet the best nursing homes and hospices are not run by the state. Iain's approach will give people freedom and choice to escape from Labour's health queues.

In his own constituency, Iain has at first hand witnessed the despair that parents face when they discover that the only school their children are allowed to go to by the local council is a failing 'sink school'. For too long, Conservatives have had little or nothing to offer those parents. We should look to propose a new system of education credits so parents of children trapped in failing schools can choose a different school for their children.

Beyond that, we should try to take the politics out of schooling by giving schools greater control over their budgets and how they are run. Good citizenship starts at school, and Conservatives should restore the authority of teachers. Schools should have the power to oblige parents to support the work of teachers through binding 'school contracts'.

Britain should not be too proud to learn from our continental neighbours, whose independent, voluntary and charitable providers play a part in delivering better schools and hospitals than we have here.

The public services we use help shape the country we live in. Labour are stuck in a time warp, believing 'public service' and 'public sector' are the same thing. Services must remain free at the point of use, but the time has come to admit that state monopoly services are failing. The state, the market and the voluntary sector should work together for the common good.

Renewing Our Party

We won't be able to turn our ideals into practice without effective campaigns, proper funding, top-quality research, and more membership involvement - in other words, without party reform.

Iain, however, does not want to embark upon another major structural reform. Instead, he has three main aims.

First, Iain wants to re-engage with the voluntary party. Our policy review and campaign planning needs the energetic and expert input of our members and local councillors. The review needs to be not a one-off exercise, but a continuous process during the run-up to the next election.

Second, Iain wants to improve the regional co-ordination of our resources, including the status and training of our agents and staff, and to ensure that we have the right balance of candidates. He would like to see more women and ethnic minority candidates being selected, especially for winnable seats. Iain is determined that the Conservative Party must come to look more like the country it wants to govern.

Third, Iain wants to attack the Liberal Democrats. It is a mistake to try to ignore them. We need to have candidates in place to fight them by the end of next year, to learn from councillors and candidates who have ousted Liberal Democrats, and to create a new unit at Conservative Central Office to spearhead the fight against them.