Davis tries to win over moderates with aim of 'opportunity society'

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Indy Politics

In the first in a series of speeches, the front-runner in the party's leadership race will set out an agenda combining the "one-nation" Toryism favoured by moderates and the low taxes and public-sector reforms associated with Thatcherism.

His speech on "the opportunity society" will try to bury the image of him as an uncaring right-winger often painted by opponents. Symbolically, it will be delivered to the Institute for Public Policy Research, a left-leaning think-tank with close links to Downing Street.

Mr Davis will also take a sideswipe at Tory modernisers who support David Cameron, 38, the shadow Education Secretary, saying the Tories should not adopt Blairism without the "objectionable elements".

Calling for a "new Tory idealism", he will say: "I want to achieve the aims that moderate Conservatives have always championed: a strong society based on a free economy, with opportunity for all. To achieve those aims we need the methods which have been championed by thinkers of the right: decentralisation, less state intervention, competition and choice. This is an idealism that brings together the various Tory traditions, and gives us the route map to a healthy society."

The shadow Home Secretary will set out six priorities for the next Tory government: a low-tax, low- regulation, free enterprise economy; strengthening the forces of law and order; devolving power as close as practicable to local communities; reforming public services to empower individuals, widen choice, break monopolies, cut back targets and encourage competition; recognising the family's central role in society in the tax and the welfare systems; and tackling welfare dependency.

Warning that the Tories have become "too timid", Mr Davis will say: "We sometimes behave as if the left ... had acquired a freehold on social policy. The state has a place, but the state must know its place.

"Perhaps shockingly for a Conservative, I want to make sure that those near the bottom of the pile can realise their dreams."