Cameron's family-friendly policy undermined by leaked report

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Indy Politics

David Cameron's drive to turn the Conservatives into "the party of the family" has been undermined by a leaked report suggesting people switch to Labour once they have children. The document was seized on by Labour, which claimed it showed that Mr Cameron's decision to allow ITV News to film his family at their Notting Hill home on Thursday was a "cynical" act in response to Tory polling showing the party's weakness on family policy. The leaked report suggested the Tories echo Barack Obama's "Change we can believe in" slogan by adopting "Change you can trust" as a campaign theme.

The analysis was included in a note about a presentation to Tory councillors two weeks ago by James O'Shaughnessy, the party's director of research and policy. It set a goal of building a 10-point lead in the polls by the end of the year. A list of priorities included: "Improve the party's credibility among families as polling has shown that people move away from the Conservatives when they have children."

Cameron aides denied the polling played any part in the Tory leader's decision to allow his family to be filmed. They said the note was not a statement of Tory strategy, and denied having a credibility problem on family policy, but conceded they wanted to do more.

The leak overshadowed Mr Cameron's attempt to use his party's spring conference in Gateshead, which opened yesterday, to outflank Labour by outlining "family-friendly" policies.

Cameron aides said he accepted his family would have a degree of media exposure. A spokesman said: "He is aiming to be Prime Minister and believes the public has a right to know what drives him and how he can put Britain's families at the centre of Conservative plans." Beverley Hughes, the minister for Children, said: "This leaked minute ... shows that all the policies and posturing of the past 24 hours are simply a product of his poor polling performance with families, not evidence of any genuine commitment to ordinary people."

In his speech to the conference today, Mr Cameron will promise that a Tory government would recruit 4,200 more health visitors. It would provide a minimum guarantee of two home visits during the later weeks of pregnancy, and six hours of health visitor support during the first two weeks of a child's life. Mr Cameron will say: "That's what the modern Conservative Party is all about. Not nanny state: some bureaucratic system telling parents what to do."