Tories to be party for the poor
The Tory leader, Iain Duncan Smith, has made a striking bid to rid his party of its uncaring image by declaring he wants it to become "the party for the poor", taking up a theme suggested several years ago by an Evangelical Conservative MP.
In an interview for Newsnight while he was Shadow Secretary for International Development, Gary Streeter MP predicted that the Conservatives would one day ìbecome the party for the poorî.
Since then, the Conservative Christian Fellowship, the grouping of Christians within the Conservative party of which Mr Streeter was Chairman, have been working hard to move the Tories in such a direction.
In an interview with the Guardian, Mr Duncan Smith says the Conservatives have for too long "allowed ourselves to be pushed into a box that just got marked self-interest".
Now the party "recognises that it helps other people too".
This is the latest in an attempt to deliver policies that the Conservatives believe are in tune with the popular mood. Last week they unveiled their new slogan: "A fair deal for everyone."
They also announced plans to abolish the government's tuition and top-up fees for students. The cost would be met by dropping the target of getting 50% of all school leavers into further education.
Mr Duncan Smith has been visiting inner city communities, trying "really genuinely" to learn. He has concluded that disparities of wealth are widening and society is being "hollowed out from the inside".
The Tories plan to unveil ideas to create more enterprise in impoverished areas.
Mr Duncan Smith's pledge will surprise those who see him as the Tories' most right-wing leader to date, and encourage the modernisers in his party.
He describes his horror at a recent report pointing to a widening gap between the richest and poorest in society, saying; "It's quite frightening to think that, in 21st century Britain, we have actually gone backward in many senses."
The Tory leader adds: "I want to be the party for the poor. Whether we are perceived by the people who are in that category as their party, that's by the by.