Jamie Oliver can show Tories the way, says Lansley

The Tories need to understand the appeal of Jamie Oliver if they are reconnect with voters, Andrew Lansley, a contender for the Conservative leadership, said.

Mr Lansley, who is challenging Kenneth Clarke to become the champion of the centre-left in the struggle to stop David Davis, said the Tories were out of touch with ordinary voters and seen as too extreme.

In a sideswipe at his former shadow cabinet colleague, Tim Collins, who held the education portfolio, Mr Lansley said: "When Jamie Oliver captured exactly what millions of parents felt about school food, did they hear us respond?

"Where, in our 10 words, was the recognition that family is the backbone of a strong society?"

Mr Collins, a widely liked former Conservative Central Office spokesman, lost his Lake District seat in the election to the Liberal Democrats and the education portfolio was taken by David Cameron, 38, another leadership challenger.

Mr Lansley, the shadow Health Secretary, condemned the Conservative election team for offering flexible childcare policies too late in the campaign.

"With the Labour Party seen as camped on the centre ground of politics, right-wing policies are characterised as extreme," he said. Mr Lansley also accused the party of failing to promote more women into leadership roles.

Meanwhile, a former Conservative minister, Ann Widdecombe, offered her support to Mr Clarke after speculation he may not to stand for the leadership because of a lack of support.

Michael Howard's chief spin doctor, Guy Black, is quitting to join the Telegraph Group. He leaves his job as the Tory leader's press secretary to become corporate affairs director.