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Friday, 10 May, 2002, 14:46 GMT 15:46 UK
Tories focus on poverty
David McLetchie
Mr McLetchie was speaking in Edinburgh
A new policy drive to tackle poverty and deprivation in Scotland has been launched by Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie.

In a major speech to the Conservative Christian Fellowship in Edinburgh, he argued that resolving family breakdown is one of the key changes required.

The move is an extension of his visit to Glasgow's Easterhouse scheme with UK Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who said there was a "moral challenge" to help people in such areas.


Tackling poverty means tackling family breakdown and a successful social justice agenda cannot be neutral on the family

David McLetchie
Mr McLetchie said there was a perception that in the past the Tories were too obsessed with economics and had not given enough attention to social problems.

He said: "It is now widely accepted that the economic changes made by the last Conservative government were necessary.

"But there is still a perception, even five years on, that we did not manage this transaction in a sympathetic manner - and for this we continue to pay a political price."

Family ties

In his speech, Mr McLetchie said that government must help strengthen the family - as the route to tackling poverty - while he stressed that he applauded lone parents who struggle to bring up children.

He said: "Tackling poverty means tackling family breakdown and a successful social justice agenda cannot be neutral on the family."

Mr McLetchie also attacked the Labour Party's record on helping the poor, which he said was too focused on state intervention and led to many people becoming too dependent on welfare.

New York-style neighbourhood policing would also be introduced by the Conservatives in a bid to make the streets safer, Mr McLetchie said.

A Conservative government would also give more help to the voluntary sector, in particular community-based groups and charities.

'Sick joke'

Social Justice Minister Margaret Curran later described the speech as "a sick joke on the people of Scotland".

"Today's event was attended by David McLetchie, Murdo Fraser and Brian Monteith, three of Scotland's biggest cheerleaders for Michael Forsyth and Margaret Thatcher - two people who did most to destroy jobs and social justice in Scotland.

"On the very day that they launched their phoney crusade on poverty they showed it to be the sham that it is with Brian Monteith's call to abolish inheritance tax.

"Today has shown the Tories' true colours - warm words and no real help for the poor alongside massive cash boosts for the rich.

"No wonder the people of Scotland have rejected them so often and so comprehensively."

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 ON THIS STORY
Political editor Brian Taylor
"They will be looking to pick up on Labour dissatisfaction"
See also:

24 Mar 02 | UK Politics
All change for Tory faithful
24 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Tories pledge to 'transform'
23 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Tories pledge to help needy
21 Mar 02 | UK Politics
Modernise or die, Tories warned
24 Mar 02 | UK Politics
'His best speech so far'
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