Iain Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith

Infobox Politician
honorific-prefix = The Right Honourable

name = Iain Duncan Smith
honorific-suffix =

imagesize =
office = Leader of the Opposition
term_start = 18 September 2001
term_end = 6 November 2003
predecessor = William Hague
successor = Michael Howard
office2 = Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
term_start2 = 15 June 1999
term_end2 = 18 September 2001
leader2 = William Hague
predecessor2 = John Maples
successor2 = Bernard Jenkin
office3 = Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
term_start3 =2 June 1997
term_end3 = 15 June 1999
leader3 = William Hague
predecessor3 = Harriet Harman
successor3 =David Willetts
constituency_MP4 =Chingford and Woodford Green
(Chingford 1992-1997)
parliament4 =
majority4 = 10,641 (27.5%)
term_start4 = 9 April 1992
term_end4 =
predecessor4 = Norman Tebbit
successor4 =
birth_date = birth date and age|1954|4|9|df=y
birth_place = Edinburgh, Scotland
death_date =
death_place =
nationality = British
party = Conservative
spouse = Elizabeth "Betsy" Fremantle
relations =
children = Four
residence =
alma_mater = Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
occupation =
profession = Army Officer; businessman
net worth =
religion = Roman Catholic

website =
allegiance =
branch = British Army
serviceyears = 1975-1981
rank = Captain
unit = Scots Guards
commands =
battles =
awards =
footnotes =

George Iain Duncan Smith, PC, MP, (born 9 April 1954) is a British politician. He is the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green. He was leader of the Conservative Party from 12 September 2001 to 6 November 2003. He lost a vote of confidence on 29 October of that year and stepped down eight days later, with Michael Howard assuming the post.

Duncan Smith is presently Chairman of the Centre for Social Justice, a policy group that is independent of the Conservative Party.

Duncan Smith is often referred to by his initials "IDS".

Early life

Iain Duncan Smith was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, the son of the World War II Royal Air Force highly-decorated ace Group Captain W. G. G. Duncan Smith and his wife Pamela, a ballerina, whom he married in 1946. Pamela's maternal grandmother, Iain's great-grandmother, was Ellen Oshey, a Japanese woman. Iain Duncan Smith is therefore one-eighth Japanese. He is also a distant relative of George Bernard Shaw, the playwright and socialist. [ [http://politics.guardian.co.uk/conservatives/story/0,9061,546249,00.html Duncan Smith's secret samurai past] , Guardian Unlimited, 3 September 2001]

Duncan Smith was educated at HMS "Conway", a naval training school on the isle of Anglesey, where he played rugby union in the position of fly-half alongside Clive Woodward at centre. He also attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. He joined the Scots Guards in 1975, with his six-year service including a spell in (then) Rhodesia and in Northern Ireland. Duncan Smith converted to Roman Catholicism as a teenager, making him the first member of that faith to head a modern major British political party. He speaks Italian.

On leaving the Guards, he joined the Conservative Party and took up employment at The General Electric Company in 1981. He married Elizabeth "Betsy" Fremantle, daughter of the 5th Baron Cottesloe, in 1982. They have four children, who are being raised at least nominally Roman Catholic. Duncan Smith fought the safe Labour seat of Bradford West in the 1987 general election. At the following general election, he stood for his current seat (Chingford and Woodford Green) in the 1992 general election, succeeding Norman Tebbit on his retirement.

Election to Parliament

A committed Eurosceptic, Duncan Smith was a constant thorn in the side of John Major's 1992-1997 government, doing his level best to disrupt Major's pro-European agenda at the time (something that would often be raised during his own leadership when he called for the party to unite behind him). Duncan Smith remained on the backbenches until 1997, when he was promoted by William Hague to the shadow cabinet as Shadow Social Security Secretary. He moved in 1999 to replace John Maples as Shadow Defence Secretary.

Conservative leader

William Hague resigned after Labour's victory in the 2001 general election. Duncan Smith won the contest to be elected leader of the Conservatives on 12 September 2001.

His eventual victory was thought to have been helped by the fact that, in the final vote, his opponent was Kenneth Clarke, whose strong support for the European Union is known to put many party members off supporting him as a leadership candidate. Iain Duncan Smith, being a strong Eurosceptic, was more popular.

His campaign successfully called for the expulsion of Edgar Griffin from the party. After he was elected to the leadership the Conservative Party suspended the right wing Conservative Monday Club and unsuccessfully attempted to expel the right wing activist Michael Keith Smith. Duncan Smith was initially seen as an outsider candidate, but his support was bolstered when Margaret Thatcher publicly announced her support.

As a mark of respect for the victims of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001, the announcement of his win was delayed until 13 September 2001. In local elections, the only elections in which Duncan Smith led the party, the Conservatives gained over 500 extra seats on local councils, primarily throughout England.

Problems as leader

In 2002, Michael Crick on the TV programme "Newsnight" caused some embarrassment when probing Duncan Smith's "curriculum vitae", which had been in circulation for years, for example, being reproduced in the authoritative annual Dod's Parliamentary Companion for the previous ten years. The CV claimed that he had attended the University of Perugia when he had in fact only attended a series of short private language courses across the road from the university, and a claim that he had attended the prestigious-sounding Durnsford College of Management turned out to refer to some weekend courses at GEC's staff college. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2588855.stm Tory leader's education under scrutiny] , BBC News, 19 December 2002]

Duncan Smith's election as party leader was overshadowed by the events of 11 September 2001. He proved not to be a particularly effective public speaker in the rowdy atmosphere of Prime Minister's Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons. His seeming troubles with a "frog in his throat" throughout most of his two years as leader prompted "Private Eye" to refer to him incessantly as "Iain Duncan Cough". As well as this, there were continued rumours of discontent among his backbenchers, not dampened by his warning to his party in November 2002: "My message is simple and stark, unite or die".

The 2002 Conservative Party conference saw an attempt to turn Duncan Smith's lack of charisma into a positive attribute, with his much-quoted line, "do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man". The line was as much derided as it was admired. During PMQs, Labour backbenchers would raise their fingers to their lips and say "shush" when he was speaking. The following year, Duncan Smith's conference speech appeared to have abandoned this technique in favour of an aggressive hard-man approach that few found convincing, even if the party members in the hall punctuated the speech with several ovations. The most remembered sound bite from the speech was his, "the quiet man is here to stay, and he's turning up the volume."

Duncan Smith stated in December 2002 that he intended to be party leader for a "very long time to come." This did little to quell the speculation in Westminster regarding his future. On 21 February 2003, "The Independent" newspaper published a story saying that a number of MPs were attempting to start the process of petitioning for a vote of no confidence in Duncan Smith, as many Conservative MPs considered IDS to be unelectable.

These worries came to a head in October 2003. Michael Crick revealed that he had compiled embarrassing evidence, this time of dubious salary claims IDS made on behalf of his wife that were paid out of the public purse from September 2001 to December 2002. The ensuing scandal, known as "Betsygate" weakened his already tenuous position. [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/10/13/nids113.xml Aide's email warning of risk to IDS triggered investigation] , Andrew Sparrow and Benedict Brogan, Daily Telegraph 13 October 2003]

Vote of No Confidence

Under leadership vote of confidence rules, fifteen percent of Conservative MPs (at this point twenty-five MPs) had to write to the Chairman of the 1922 Committee demanding the vote. On 26 October, amid mounting claims that the threshold of twenty-five was about to be reached, Duncan Smith made an appearance on television daring his opponents to show their hand by the evening of 29 October, or to withdraw their challenge. He also stated that he would not step down if a vote was called. Iain Duncan Smith's demand that the twenty-five MPs write to the Chairman by 29 October had no bearing on Party regulations. Had the votes not been delivered until later the vote of no confidence would still have gone ahead. Nevertheless, by 28 October, twenty-five Conservative MPs had indeed signed on to demand a vote.

After the vote was announced, Duncan Smith made an appearance in front of Conservative Party headquarters in Smith Square, where he stated that he was "absolutely" going to contest the vote. It was held on 29 October, and Duncan Smith lost, by ninety votes to seventy-five.

Return to the backbenches

Since leaving office, Duncan Smith established the Centre for Social Justice, a centre-right think tank which works with small charities in its aim of finding innovative policies for tackling poverty.

On 7 December 2005, Duncan Smith was appointed Chairman of the Social Justice Policy Group which was facilitated by the Centre for Social Justice. The group's aim was to "study the causes and consequences of poverty in Britain and seek practical ideas to empower the least well-off," and was one of several that have been set up by Conservative Party leader David Cameron. Duncan Smith's Deputy Chair was Debbie Scott the Chief Executive of the charity Tomorrow's People.

The group released two major reports, "Breakdown Britain" and "Breakthrough Britain". "Breakdown Britain" [ [http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/default.asp?pageRef=180 The Centre for Social Justice - Breakdown Britain ] ] was a three hundred thousand word document that analysed what was going wrong in the areas of Economic Dependence and Worklessness, Family Breakdown, Addiction, Educational Failure, Indebtedness, and the Voluntary Sector. "Breakthrough Britain" [ [http://www.centreforsocialjustice.org.uk/default.asp?pageRef=182 The Centre for Social Justice - Breakthrough Britain ] ] recommended almost two hundred policy ideas using broadly the same themes. On their website the group claimed {fact} that the Government has so far taken on sixteen of the recommendations, and the Conservatives twenty-nine.

Duncan Smith was re-elected comfortably in Chingford and Woodford Green at the 2005 General Election, almost doubling his majority, and remains a backbencher for the Conservative Party.

In September 2006 he was one of fourteen authors of a report concerning Anti-Semitism in the UK. He was also one of the only early supporters [ [http://conservativehome.blogs.com/torydiary/2007/01/key_conservativ.html ConservativeHome's ToryDiary: Key Conservative contributions to yesterday's Iraq debate ] ] of the Iraq surge policy.

Personal life


On 6 November 2003, Duncan Smith's novel "The Devil's Tune" was released, less than a fortnight after his removal from the party leadership. The book received heavily critical reviews such as, "Really, it's terrible... Terrible, terrible, terrible.", by Sam Leith in the "Daily Telegraph". The book was never published in paperback.


Duncan Smith is a convert to Roman Catholicism, and his election led to the situation where the leaders of the three main British political parties all had Catholic ties and were both in Scotland. Charles Kennedy, then leader of the Liberal Democrats is a Catholic and was born in Inverness. The then Prime Minister Tony Blair was born in Edinburgh and is married to a Catholic, Cherie Booth, regularly attends Mass in Westminster Cathedral and converted to Catholicism in 2007).

The United Kingdom has never had a Catholic Prime Minister, and the Catholic Relief Act 1829 makes it illegal for a Roman Catholic to directly or indirectly advise the Sovereign on appointments in the Church of England (one of the responsibilities of the Prime Minister is the selection of Church of England bishops for appointment by the Queen).


Duncan Smith is a keen Tottenham Hotspur supporter and season ticket holder. [cite news |first=Jason |last=Burt |authorlink= |title=Spurs' quandary: deciding if home is where the Hart is |url=http://sport.independent.co.uk/football/premiership/article137006.ece |publisher= The Independent |date=22 December 2002 |accessdate=2007-01-13 ]

Gareth Southgate cited Duncan Smith when he remarked after England's 2002 World Cup quarter-final defeat against Brazil that "we were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan Smith." [" [http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/sport/football/middlesbrough/news/display.var.1740911.0.southgate_an_admirer_of_svens_subtle_approach_to_player_management.php The Northern Echo] "] This comparison was seen as being a scathing criticism of the then England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson's quiet and understated approach to management.


Duncan Smith has been married to Betsy since 1982, and they have two sons and two daughters. [ [http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=people.person.page&personid=5015 Rt Hon Iain Duncan Smith MP - Profile - Conservative Party ] ]


External links

* [http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=people.person.page&personid=5015 Conservative Party - Iain Duncan Smith] profile
* [http://www.dmoz.org/Regional/Europe/United_Kingdom/Society_and_Culture/Politics/Parties/Conservative/MPs/Duncan_Smith,_Iain/ Open Directory Project - Iain Duncan Smith] directory category

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