The Tories will tomorrow try to seize the mantle of fairness from Labour as they launch their strongest attack yet on the effects on Britain's poor of the Government's decade in power.
The Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, will use a speech to press home the Conservatives' claim to be the force for social justice in politics. Yesterday, the party published a dossier it said showed how Britain had become ever more unfair under Gordon Brown. It claimed that more than two million of the poorest pensioners would be nearly £100 worse off this year because inflation will wipe out pension credit increases.
It accused Labour of presiding over the biggest gap in life expectancy between rich and poor since Victorian times, and said the poorest fifth of households now paid a higher proportion of their income in tax than any other social group. The report added that there were 900,000 more people living in severe poverty than in 1997, while the number of children in poverty had risen by 100,000 in the past year.
In Mr Osborne's foreword to the report, he said: "The truth is that Gordon Brown's old-fashioned leftist idea that 'only the state can guarantee fairness' has led to a decade of top-down state control policies that have made our country less fair. Brown's Labour means an unfair Britain."
The Tory document was published as Mr Brown prepared an economic recovery plan designed to be the centrepiece of his autumn political fightback. He will rejoin the political fray following his summer break after flying to Beijing for the closing of the Olympics later this week.
*Voters would overwhelmingly back David Cameron as the next prime minister, even if David Miliband replaced Mr Brown as Labour leader, a poll suggests. The ICM poll for The Guardian showed 42 per cent backing Mr Cameron as the best prime minister, but only 21 per cent backing Mr Brown.Reuse content