Get results or go, Tories warn Duncan Smith

Iain Duncan Smith has been warned that his future as leader of the Conservatives depends on a convincing performance at the party conference and a rise in fortunes by the 2003 local elections.

As he approaches his first anniversary as leader, he has been advised of concerns that he has failed to make a dent in opinion polling or – following the ham-fisted sacking of David Davis as party chairman – to end in-fighting in the party. Senior Tories, anxious to see a revival of Conservative popularity, insist they want results soon – or a new leader.

"A year into his leadership, Iain has failed to make the impact we were hoping he would," said one. "There might not be an obvious alternative to succeed him but that doesn't mean we will put up with failure for ever."

Next month's party conference – the last gathering of the Tory faithful was overshadowed by the events of 11 September – is being seen as a key test. Many, including some in the shadow cabinet, believe it is crucial that the event in Bournemouth is used to demonstrate how far the party has come on policy and to avoid personality conflict.

One Conservative source said: "A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes and it is gaining in strength. But there remains a perception that little is happening and that there is no leadership and no sense of direction and purpose.

"That is where the David Davis episode has been most damaging. It has bolstered the view that we don't really know where we are going and that is what has to be tackled at the conference."

Mr Duncan Smith will inevitably have to put up with sniping from the sidelines during conference week. The Tory left, which supported the ex-Chancellor Kenneth Clarke's failed bid for the leadership, is joining forces with the so-called "Portillistas", devotees of Michael Portillo, for a joint reception on the fringes of the conference.

The reception, hosted by Conservative Mainstream and the new think-tank Cchange, is to be addressed by Steve Norris, the former Tory candidate for London mayor who has not disguised his view that the party should go down a more liberal track. On the right, allies of Mr Davis are still said to be "furious" at the way in which he was treated, and continue to see him as a possible future leader.

Mr Duncan Smith admitted last week that he had only just reached "base camp" in his strategy to revive the Conservatives. He did, however, claim to have "settled" the party – an assertion his critics reject. A Tory source said: "For 11 months, Iain kept the party together. Now the old rifts have come back to haunt us and we'll do well to get away without negative coverage about personalities in the next few weeks."

Mr Duncan Smith has taken some steps, however. Former prime ministers Baroness Thatcher and Sir Edward Heath will be banned from his revamped "minimalist" conference platform next month.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks