'Smile, we're the happy party,' says shadow minister

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Indy Politics

Tories with miserable faces will be told this week that they are becoming an electoral liability. Damian Green, a leading member of the Shadow Cabinet, will plead with the party faithful to be less "gloomy and grouchy".

The shadow Education Secretary will do his own bit to recast the Conservatives as the happy party - for future university students, if for no one else - by repeating a promise to scrap tuition fees, when he addresses the conference tomorrow afternoon.

In a pamphlet, More Than Markets, to be published later this week by the Tory Reform Group, Mr Green warns that the Conservative Party will not win power just by promising to put more money into people's pockets. He wants voting Conservative to be "a pleasure as well as a duty".

The pamphlet suggests that instead of trying to make themselves as different as possible from Labour, the Tories should seize back some of the political ground stolen by Tony Blair. He suggests that this can be done with a combination of free-market economics, compassion for the poor and vulnerable, devolution of power to local government, and social tolerance.

Mr Green, a social liberal who backed Michael Portillo in the Tory leadership election, condemned "the itch to lecture people about how to lead their private lives".

He added: "A One Nation party in 21st-century Britain will recognise that it aspires to represent a diverse and fragmented society. We seek to bring those fragments together to recognise their mutual loyalties and interests, but we will not do that by telling groups of our fellow citizens, who are leading blameless lives which may be unorthodox by standards of previous eras, that they do not belong in polite society."

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