Duncan gibe sparks hunt for Tory 'moralising wing'

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Michael Howard, the Tory leader, was forced to deny that there were "Tory Taliban" in the ranks and ticked off his shadow Transport Secretary for making such a suggestion. He said: "I am surprised that he believes it, because I don't believe it to be true. I don't believe that we are censorious about people's lifestyles. I think we have moved on and I think we accept that, so Alan's remarks surprised me."

Mr Duncan was not naming names. But a guessing game was under way in the Commons tearoom, where speculation among his fellow modernisers centred on right-wing Tories including Laurence Robertson, John Hayes and Gerald Howarth.

Mr Duncan, who said he would not contest the Tory leadership election due to lack of support, said: "Our Achilles' heel has been our social attitude.

"Censorious judgmentalism, which treats half our countrymen as enemies, must be rooted out."