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The Right Honourable
 Iain Duncan Smith 

In office
18 September 2001 – 6 November 2003
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Preceded by William Hague
Succeeded by Michael Howard

In office
15 June 1999 – 18 September 2001
Leader William Hague
Preceded by John Maples
Succeeded by Bernard Jenkin

In office
2 June 1997 – 15 June 1999
Leader William Hague
Preceded by Harriet Harman
Succeeded by David Willetts

Member of Parliament
for Chingford and Woodford Green
(Chingford 1992-1997)
Assumed office 
9 April 1992
Preceded by Norman Tebbit
Majority 10,641 (27.5%)

Born 9 April 1954 (1954-04-09) (age 55)
Edinburgh, Scotland
Nationality British
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Elizabeth "Betsy" Fremantle
Children Four
Alma mater Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
Profession Army Officer; businessman
Religion Roman Catholic
Military service
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1975-1981
Rank Captain
Unit Scots Guards

George Iain Duncan Smith (born 9 April 1954) is a British politician. He is currently the Member of Parliament for the constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green, and was the Leader of the Conservative Party from 12 September 2001 to 6 November 2003.

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

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


Early life

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. Other descendants include British Canadian CBC wartime broadcaster Peter Stursberg, whose 2002 book, No Foreign Bones in China, records the story of this uncommon couple, and his son, current CBC vice-president, Richard Stursberg.[1] Through Group Captain Shaw, Duncan Smith is also a distant relative of George Bernard Shaw, the playwright and socialist.[2]

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. 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 November 2001, he was one of the first politicians to call for an invasion of Iraq and held talks in Washington, D.C. with senior U.S. officials, including Vice-President Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice and Paul Wolfowitz.[3] 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 attended the Università per Stranieri, which did not grant any degrees at that time, and a claim that he had attended the prestigious-sounding Durnsford College of Management turned out to refer to some weekend courses at GEC Marconi's staff college.[4][5]

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. His initials IDS were said to refer to being "In Deep Shit".

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.[6]

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, which was held on 29 October. He lost by 90 votes to 75. He stepped down as leader eight days later when Michael Howard was confirmed as his successor (Howard was unopposed for the role and so no election was required).

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. In addition he served under Michael Howard on an advisory council.[7]

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"[8] was a three hundred thousand word document that analysed what was going wrong in the areas of Economic Dependence and Unemployment, Family Breakdown, Addiction, Educational Failure, Indebtedness, and the Voluntary Sector. "Breakthrough Britain"[9] recommended almost two hundred policy ideas using broadly the same themes. On their website the group claimed 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. Iain Duncan Smith has been Member of Parliament for Chingford and Woodford Green since 1992 - when he succeeded Norman Tebbit.[10].

Iain Duncan Smith at Nightingale House,London, March 2010 in his role as Chairman of The Centre For Social Justice

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[11] of the Iraq surge policy. In September 2007, he called for Britain to withdraw from the war against Afghanistan and to fight in the war in Iraq indefinitely.[12] In his 2009 Conservative Party Conference speech, Tory leader David Cameron signalled that Ian Duncan Smith would serve in his cabinet, with responsibility for social justice, should he be called upon to form an administration after the next general election.

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 born in Scotland. The leader of the Liberal Democrats at the time was Charles Kennedy, a Catholic born in Inverness, and the then Prime Minister Tony Blair was born in Edinburgh, attended Mass in Westminster Cathedral and is married to a Catholic, Cherie Booth. Blair subsequently converted to Catholicism in 2007.

The United Kingdom has never had an openly 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.[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."[14] 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; they have two sons and two daughters: Edward St Alban (born 1987, Hammersmith, London), Alicia Cecilia (born 26 January 1989, Hammersmith), Harry Alasdair (born late 1990/early 1991, Hammersmith), Rosanna Tatiana (born 1993, Kensington and Chelsea, London).[15][16]


External links

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Norman Tebbit
Member of Parliament for Chingford
Constituency abolished
New constituency Member of Parliament for Chingford and Woodford Green
Political offices
Preceded by
Harriet Harman
Shadow Secretary of State for Social Security
Succeeded by
David Willetts
Preceded by
John Maples
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence
Succeeded by
Bernard Jenkin
Preceded by
William Hague
Leader of the British Conservative Party
Succeeded by
Michael Howard
Leader of the Opposition

Simple English

File:Iain Duncan Smith, June
Iain Duncan Smith is the Work and Pensions secretary

George Iain Duncan Smith (born 9 April 1954 in Edinburgh, Scotland) is a British politician who is the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. He was the leader of the Conservative Party from September 2001 to November 2003 and is the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Chingford and Woodford Green.

Iain Duncan Smith served in the Scottish part of the British Army, the Scot's Guard from 1975 to 1981. He became a Conservative Party MP at the 1992 General Election for the constituency of Chingford (called Chingford and Woodford Green from 1997). He became a member of William Hague's shadow cabinet in 1997 and became Shadow Defence Secretary in 1999. When Hague resigned in 2001, Iain Duncan Smith was elected leader of the Conservative Party, defeating Kenneth Clarke and Michael Portillo. In November 2003, Conservative Party MP's passed a Vote of No Confidence in Iain Duncan Smith because they believed he could not win the general election. He was replaced by Michael Howard. After the 2010 General Election, Iain Duncan Smith was made the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Iain Duncan Smith was the first leader of the Conservative Party to have been Roman Catholic and was the first to have been born in Scotland since Arthur Balfour.

References - Official site

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