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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 June, 2005, 04:08 GMT 05:08 UK
Davis sets out Tory party vision
Shadow home secretary David Davis
Mr Davies is hotly tipped to become the new Tory leader
The Conservative Party should not abandon its "timeless" principles in a bid to return to government, shadow home secretary David Davis has said.

Mr Davis, the favourite to take over as party leader when Michael Howard stands down, said in a Sunday Telegraph article the party "must change".

But he warned modernisers not to "chase an ebbing political tide".

He backed principles such as low taxes and free markets, along with help for "people of every condition".

'Phoney debate'

In discussing how the party must change, "we must first ask ourselves the right question: not 'What must we do to win?' but 'what we must do for Britain?"' he wrote.

"We are in danger of becoming too introspective. We will not deserve to be elected if we are more concerned with internal party politics than in improving the lives of the British people."

The MP for Haltemprice and Howden rejected the "phoney" battle between modernisers and traditionalists.

"There is in fact good sense in both approaches."

He warned "modernisers" not to ape New Labour, but said they were right to emphasise the importance of broadening the appeal of the party, especially to women, ethnic minorities and the young.

"Equally, we should not abandon timeless Tory principles that are universal in their appeal. Why should anyone believe us if we believe nothing ourselves?"

'Jockeying for position'

He backed low taxes and free markets, and suggested the party's integral values included "a belief in the nation state, liberty and personal responsibility" and "a suspicion of big government".

The party should also focus on "helping people of every condition to break free of dependence, indignity and poverty".

Meanwhile, shadow treasury minister Richard Spring has called for Mr Howard's successor to by elected by "acclamation" rather than face another leadership election.

In an article for the Independent on Sunday, the Tory frontbencher said that party members did not want a "long drawn-out process of individual candidates jockeying for position".

He said he would like to see the new leader in place by July, so that they would be ready for the party conference in autumn.

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