By Julian Lewis
Southern Daily Echo – 18 September 2001
A few months before the 1992 General Election, I took part in the selection contest to succeed Norman Tebbit in Chingford. Six of us reached the final stages. It was a strong field: several later managed to become MPs. Yet, the winner, Iain Duncan Smith, was unknown to us all.
At the beginning of the Conservative leadership contest, the five contenders were rated like racehorses in the magazine Private Eye. The odds against Iain were quoted as 100–1. Once again, he has turned out to be the winner. In my view he will prove equally formidable in the party battles ahead, and here are some of the reasons.
First, as even his critics admit, he is a man of the utmost integrity.
Secondly, he is principled as well as brave.
Thirdly, he is a shrewd tactician – as his leadership victory has abundantly demonstrated.
Fourthly, he is unencumbered by the baggage of the past, having refused promotion in his own party, because of its foolish endorsement of the Maastricht Treaty.
Fifthly, he is a radical thinker on those domestic issues – health, education and transport – which the General Election showed to be so important.
Finally, he is determined to retain Britain's independence and prevent our economy, our defence policy and, indeed, our country being run from EU headquarters in Brussels. (Some of this determination stems from his father's role as a Spitfire ace during the Second World War and from his own experiences on active service with the British Army.)
Iain is, in short, a man confident of his own judgement and of our country's ability to meet its own needs and solve its own problems. He combines independence of outlook with an ability to retain the admiration of others.
His election, by a huge majority on a high turnout, has predictably been talked down by media pundits. These are the people who have underrated him in the past; but, sooner rather than later, they may have to eat their words.
Dr Lewis was a member of Iain Duncan Smith's leadership campaign team.