Archbishop hails Tory leader as a model of modern fatherhood

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Indy Politics

David Cameron will pronounce this week that politicians should help people live in happy families, as he was hailed by the Archbishop of Canterbury as a model of modern fatherhood.

The Tory leader receives the endorsement from Dr Rowan Williams, along with England captain David Beckham, in a BBC interview broadcast today.

The Archbishop says that both "take their fathering seriously", a compliment that will delight Mr Cameron as he prepares to take on internal critics who believe the state should keep out of family life.

He will support state-funded parenting classes and relationship counselling in a speech to the National Family and Parenting Institute. "I don't believe that politicians can take a cold and amoral attitude to family life. We can't just take a vow of silence on the grounds that family life is beyond the reach of hard-edged economics and hard-edged administration," the Tory leader will say.

But Mr Cameron was given a taste of the looming Gordon Brown assault yesterday in Labour's most personal attack so far. He was accused of "hollow salesmanship" masking "19th-century Conservatism" by Ed Balls, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

Mr Balls, the Chancellor's most trusted lieutenant, accused Mr Cameron of hypocrisy for opposing policies such as tax credits while supporting the aim of wealth redistribution. "We will not just expose his sound-bites and slogans, his new logos, stunts and hollow salesmanship, but the same old Conservatism simply rebranded with a new gloss," Mr Balls said in a speech to a conference organised by Compass. The think tank, which has become a rallying point for opponents of Tony Blair, released a poll yesterday showing that 74 per cent of party members felt excluded from policy-making and 71 per cent want the Prime Minister to quit by autumn 2007.

The YouGov survey was commissioned and presented to the conference by former minister Michael Meacher, who said there was "a real problem" with declining levels of support. He said the poll demonstrated frustration that the leadership did not "trust its members sufficiently to involve them fully in party decisions and policy-making".

Compass chairman Neal Lawson said that New Labour was no longer "new enough or Labour enough". Mr Lawson, a former adviser to Mr Brown, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's not actually whether it's left-wing or not. It's actually whether it's modern, popular and in touch with the times, and I think the embarrassing thing that's happening at the moment is that because the Labour Party has shifted so far to the right, they have left a huge vacuum which even David Cameron is jumping into, and talking about public services and talking about equality."

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