Iain Duncan Smith: Twin Towers attack

Iain Duncan Smith blames 9/11 for his failure as Tory leader

Iain Duncan Smith blames 9/11 for his failure as Tory leader

The terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the wars that followed were the cause of Iain Duncan Smith's failure as Conservative leader, he claimed last night.

The former Conservative leader told a fringe meeting that he failed to get a bounce from his election, due to the attacks on the Twin Towers.

"The day before I got elected, the Twin Towers were struck. So first of all I got no lift from my announcement. It had to be buried the following day because hardly anybody paid attention."

He claimed that the then prime minister Tony Blair had "milked" the subsequent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq "for all it was worth".

"When the nation is at war there is only one person [the public] look to. It is the prime minister because the prime minister is powerful. He is the one that directs it. And Blair of course milked that for all it was worth. It was impossible for weeks and months to get anywhere near any domestic debate.

"We did make some progress on [the issue] of healthcare and then bingo, the issue of Iraq happened. And from that moment onwards it was almost all war.

"So no complaint. I just simply make the point that it is very difficult to make headway as leader of the opposition unless you have the playing field to fight on and that is domestic policy."

He denied that his own actions had contributed to his short tenure as leader. He defended his much-mocked "quiet man" speech, saying that it had not contributed to his downfall.

"[The speech] did work. That was not the problem at all. The problem was that… I arrived and then we were pretty much at war for my entire time as leader, if you think about it."

The work and pensions secretary also lashed out at London Mayor Boris Johnson for his recent criticism of proposed tax credit cuts.

"I've no idea what Boris meant [on tax credits]," he said to laughter in the room.

"I've spent a lifetime trying to understand Boris."