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The result:
Iain Duncan Smith was elected, but the results were delayed a day and massively overshadowed by the World Trade Center attacks.
The Conservative Party is in turmoil: Think of an empty "Conservative Party" nodeshell with thousands of soft linked party factions but no content. The party is just about ready to rip itself apart (having threatened to do this over the issue of membership of the European Union for the past 10 years).

Until June 2001, they were led by William Hague, who was seen as unelectable on account of his being both bald (no seriously, that was his main fault as seen by the press!) and a politics geek.

He stepped down after their massive defeat in the 2001 Election and a ridiculous leadership contest is now underway.

The main contestants were Michael Portillo (a man with whom most of the UK population could at least relate and who seemed certain to be the victor), Iain Duncan Smith (a right wing and fairly unheard of chap with funny eyebrows) and Kenneth Clarke (an old, pro-European stalwart of an earlier era).

Somehow, due to the intricacies of the Tory's voting system, Portillo, having initially the most votes from Tory MPs was eliminated from the running as a number of also-rans dropped out and voiced their support for the other candidates. Two members were to go forward to the ballot of the Party membership and thus, the Conservative Party now find themselves in the surprising circumstance where they must replace an unelectable leader with either of an extreme right-winger (Smith) or a controversial pro-European who is been a paid consultant of the Tobacco lobby (Clarke).

The future would not seem to bode well for the party!.
Latest: the Party membership will soon be balloted, expect updates!
Just to say that andydougan's w/u below is absolutely correct. There is a very good chance IMHO that the party could split in two depending on the outcome
Re Anne Widdicome as salimfadhley nodes below, here is precisely what my roommate said to me when we heard on BBC News that she had put her name forward:

"I thought the Tories were already out of touch, but could you imagine a 50 year-old virgin becoming Prime Minister of Britain?"

His words, not mine; I did laugh though
Although many dismiss the Conservative leadership contest as being irrelevant, as nobody seriously expects them to win a general election in the near future, I consider this to be a turning point in UK politics.
If Iain Duncan Smith is victorious, the Party will remain right-wing, staunchly Europhobic and unelectable, handing unopposed power to the Labour Party for decades. A democracy with only one choice is tantamount to dictatorship.
On the other hand, while Kenneth Clarke may cause further splits in the Conservatives because of his Europhilia (there is talk that some MPs may even defect to the British National Party if he becomes leader), he is still more likely to appeal to current Labour voters, which makes him the obvious choice. The fact that he currently looks unlikely to win the leadership only confirms everyone's suspicions that the Conservative Party is completely out of touch with reality.

September 13, 2001. The result is in. The Tories obviously wish to commit political suicide: as the polls predicted, Iain Duncan Smith has been elected the new leader of the party with 61% of the vote. The Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, who eventually hope to take over as the main opposition, will doubtless be pleased at this news.

Before Michael Portollo, Kenneth Clarke and Ian Duncan-Smith announced that they would battle for leadership, Anne Widicombe put her own name forwards. Perhaps the most abusrd choice so far to be a party leader – Anne is passionately right wing as well as being a bible believing Christian. I couldn’t imagine anybody less in touch with British attitudes.

It worries me to think that the UK could be without an effective opposition party for quite some time. Of the remaining candidates, Kenneth Clarke appears to be the strongest but currently lacks the support required to unite his party and become a credible opposition.

Even democratically elected governments can get too big for their boots – especially when encouraged by a strong majority. One hope is that the Liberal Democrats will be able to step into the vacuum left by the dwindling – it is possible that we may have a new opposition party. Although very little is know about the Lib-Dems or their policy, their appeal is steadily growing especially in Middle-England.

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