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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
Cameron backs marriage tax breaks
David Cameron
David Cameron was a former adviser to Michael Howard
Potential Conservative leadership contender David Cameron has called for families and marriage to get more support from the government.

The shadow education secretary backed tax breaks to make it easier for married couples to stay together.

In a speech about his party's future entitled 'we're all in it together' Mr Cameron declared he was a moderniser.

"These are our goals: a dynamic economy. A decent society. A strong self-confident nation," he said.

Mr Cameron said those goals were "forward-looking, inclusive and generous".

Individuals and society?

"We should never allow our opponents to caricature us as the opposite of these things," he said before warning his colleagues that "you never get anywhere by trashing your own brand".

The Tories were concerned not just with individuals but with society he argued, in a reference to Margaret Thatcher's infamous comment that there was no such thing.

"Conservatives believe profoundly that there is a 'we' in politics as well as a 'me'. I am absolutely clear that the Conservative Party has always stood for, and will always stand for, aspiration and compassion in equal measure," he said in his speech to think tank Policy Exchange.

"If we don't make these things clear, it will be as if half the members of a finely-tuned orchestra just stand up and walk off the stage - the audience will hear too much brass and not enough strings."

Mr Cameron said tha people were not remotely interested in the future of the Conservative Party but were concerned about the future of the country.

'All together'

Mr Cameron stressed the need to support families of "all shapes and sizes" but argued there is clear evidence that married couples stay together longer.

"Modern families come in all shapes and sizes - and they all need support but real modernisation means facing up to the facts," he said.

"All the evidence shows that children benefit the most from having both parents - mother and father - involved together in their upbringing.

"And the evidence also shows that married couples have a better chance of staying together longer.

"So a modern Conservative Party should support marriage. We should use the law, the tax and benefits system and other mechanisms to encourage families to get together and stay together."

Treasurers' battle

Mr Cameron's speech came as potential Conservative Party leaders seek to build support and beginning forming campaign teams.

The bookmakers' favourite is shadow home secretary David Davis. Tory frontbencher Alan Duncan is the only declared candidate in the fledgling leadership race, although ex-foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind has indicated he will probably run.

Other possible candidates to succeed Michael Howard include: Ken Clarke, Andrew Lansley, Tim Yeo and Theresa May.

Two former Tory treasurers weighed into the contest in articles for the London Evening Standard newspaper on Wednesday.

Carpets millionaire Lord Harris backed Mr Cameron for understanding the need for low taxes and a smaller state, as well as for a sense of community.

Dixons president Lord Kalms said Mr Davis was the only man with the experience of the real world, as well as the vision and personality to take the party forward.

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