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New leader for Conservative Party

Michael HowardMichael Howard confirmed as only candidate for main opposition party Iain Duncan Smith lost his vote of confidence yesterday after failing to convince his 165 parliamentary members that he has the charisma to lead the party to victory in the next general election in 2006. Michael Howard, former Home Minister, is the new candidate.

The Conservative (or Tory) Party presents a campaign to improve public services, accusing Tony Blair's Labour government of increasing taxation but not providing better schools, hospitals or safety on Britain's streets.

Michael Howard, on the right wing of the Conservative Party, has adopted a tough stance on Europe, being very much in the Eurosceptic group and has led the campaign by the main opposition party in the UK against Labour's fiscal and economic policy.

As more and more potential candidates stepped aside, clearing the way for a sole candidature, Michael Howard declared seconds ago that he will stand to be elected by the parliamentary group in November to lead the Conservative Party into the next general election.

Born in 1941, the Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer trained as a barrister before becoming a Member of Parliament in 1983, gaining wide political experience in a number of posts. In 1985, he served as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department of Trade and Industry before moving on to the Department of the Environment, serving the Thatcher government as Minister (Secretary of State) for Local Government and later, Water and Planning.

In John Major's government, he served as Minister of the Environment in 1992, and was responsible for persuading the USA to participate at the Rio Earth Summit. From 1993 to 1997, he was Home Secretary. During his tenure of office, crime fell by 17%, with a fall in real terms of one million crimes a year.

After the victory of Tony Blair in 1997, Michael Howard has served as Shadow Foreign Secretary and Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer.

In 1990, as Employment Secretary (Minister), he negotiated the UK's opt-out of the Maastricht Social Chapter, an action which labeled him as a Eurosceptic, which he continues to carry today. The fact that the Conservative Party has chosen him to unify and lead them into the next election is a clear sign of things to come: a continuation of the UK's "yes, but" policy regarding the European Union and a commitment to a real improvement of social services.

As sole candidate, Michael Howard will only need a majority of Parliamentary members to give him the go-ahead in November.

John ASHTEAD
PRAVDA.Ru
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

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