Tebbit lays into Cameron's 'Blairite' front benchers

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David Cameron's attempts to modernise the Conservatives have been condemned as "poisonous" by Lord Tebbit, the former party chairman.

The Tory leader is launching a £500,000 campaign aimed at rebuilding trust and convincing voters that the party has changed. But Lord Tebbit, a key ally in Margaret Thatcher's government, laid into the modernisers in the Shadow Cabinet.

"I had hoped that David Cameron's claim to be 'the heir to Blair' was just a silly mistake springing from inexperience. It is more worrying to find that Blair worship is now the doctrine of modern compassionate Conservatism," Lord Tebbit said in a letter to the Spectator magazine.

"It was Blair who introduced uncontrolled, unmeasured immigration of people determined not to integrate, but to establish, first ghettos, and now demands for separate legal jurisdiction. In biblical terms, Blairism is the poisonous tree which can give forth only poisonous fruit and must be rooted out."

His broadside came as Mr Cameron and Gordon Brown united in an attempt to limit the damage to their parties by the row over MPs' expenses at Westminster. Condemning a vote by MEPs to block the publication of a report by auditors on abuses of the European Parliament allowances and expenses system, the politicians have complained to the Parliament's president, Hans-Gert Pöttering, about the need for more transparency. Mr Cameron has ordered Conservative MEPs to reveal the kind of details he has asked Tory MPs to publish, including payments to family members.

The Standards and Privileges Committee was expected to announce proposals for disclosing details of payments by MPs to family members yesterday.