Hague's new think-tank will attempt to shed uncaring image

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William Hague will launch a specialised think-tank to explore "compassionate conservatism" today in an attempt to shed his party's uncaring image.

William Hague will launch a specialised think-tank to explore "compassionate conservatism" today in an attempt to shed his party's uncaring image.

The new team, entitled "Renewing One Nation", is expected to cost £150,000 a year and will be largely funded by Sir Stanley Kalms, the Dixons Group chairman. The unit will focus on United States-style solutions for social problems and will provide ideas for Conservative frontbenchers.

Headed by David Lidington, the Tory home affairs spokesman, it will aim to forge close links with charities, voluntary sector groups and faith communities and look at issues such as homelessness and long-term unemployment.

Its agenda states: "The One Nation tradition within Conservatism reflects an interest in the welfare of the whole country: rich and poor; north and south; black and white. Conservatives will demonstrate that the One Nation ideal needs to be renewed for the 21 century."

Tory strategists have kept a close watch on the election campaign of George W Bush, the Republican candidate for the US presidency, and hope to import his ideas on "compassionate conservatism". The unit will build on Mr Hague's pledges during the party conference earlier this month that he would "govern for all".

Tim Montgomery, the national director of the unit, said: "The main point of our unit will be the emphasis on social inclusion. These persistent social problems are not usually policies areas associated with Conservatism but we want to develop new and radical ideas and provide genuine solutions."

The unit's agenda adds: "Institutions like families, churches, synagogues, schools and charities often embody a range of beliefs that can motivate the armies of volunteers that transform individual lives and blighted communities. Conservatives must develop new ways of helping these institutions to succeed."

Gary Streeter, the shadow International Development Secretary, said: "We want to be looking at a blank piece of paper and dig very deep to find some answers to the social challenges facing this country. There are some clues but we may have to dig over years, not months, to get some answers."

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