Conservative Leader Calls On Blair To Resign

By Mike Wendling | July 7, 2008 | 8:14 PM EDT

London ( - In a fiery speech designed to hit back at critics clamoring for a leadership change, the head of the U.K.'s Conservative Party launched an attack on Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday, calling him a liar and demanding that he resign.

Iain Duncan Smith, facing polls that show his party's support stagnating and newspaper reports about rumors of dissent within his own ranks, called Blair's Labor Party government "deceitful, incompetent, shallow, inefficient, ineffective, corrupt, mendacious, fraudulent, shameful, lying."

In a speech to his party's annual conference, he zeroed in on the Hutton Inquiry, an investigation into the death of government weapons David Kelly.

"This government used Dr. David Kelly as a pawn...His death was first and foremost a tragedy for those who loved him. But it shamed our country. It shamed our whole political system," Duncan Smith said.

"Immediately after Dr. Kelly's death, Tony Blair said he'd had nothing to do with his public naming. That was a lie," Duncan Smith said. "Tony Blair chaired the meetings that made the fatal decisions. He is responsible. He should do the decent thing and he should resign."

Blair and other top government officials testified at hearings into Kelly's death. Lord Hutton, the judge in charge of the proceedings, will deliver a report later this year, and Blair's Downing Street office has refused to comment on the matter until then.

Duncan Smith also had a message for his opponents inside the party. British papers have been full of speculation in recent days about Duncan Smith's future. Several have reported that Conservative members of Parliament have started a movement to force a confidence vote on their leader.

"You either want my mission, or you want Tony Blair. There is no third way," he said. "To those who doubt and to those who deliberate, I say this: Don't work for Tony Blair. Get on board, or get out of our way."

While the prime minister's popularity ratings have fallen as a result of the Hutton Inquiry, polls show that Conservatives have failed to make substantial gains at Blair's expense.

Party infighting has cost Duncan Smith, and there was more bad news for the Tory leader Thursday as a poll in the Daily Telegraph indicated that 53 percent of party members said it was a mistake to choose him as leader.

In an effort to drown out leadership doubts, the Conservatives unveiled a raft of new proposals during this year's conference. The party has come out in favor of school vouchers, local control of police and smaller national government.

On Thursday, Duncan Smith also repeated his determination to cut taxes.

"Across the world, our competitors are cutting taxes because tax cuts create jobs, wealth and growth, but in Britain the tax burden is rising," he said.

Echoing Blair's 1997 election pledge on crime, he promised to be "tough on tax, tough on the causes of tax."

"Conservatives believe in low taxes," he said. "We will always be a lower tax government than Labor."

He also promised to hold a referendum on the European Union's draft constitution and to oppose Britain's entry into the European common currency.

Duncan Smith said that his party had "the most radical policy agenda of any party aspiring to government since 1979," the year Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher came to power.

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