Theresa May: There is such a thing as society

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Theresa May pledged yesterday to "change the definition" of the family when she said gay couples, elderly sisters and "a single mother on benefits" would be considered a family unit under a Tory government.

Theresa May pledged yesterday to "change the definition" of the family when she said gay couples, elderly sisters and "a single mother on benefits" would be considered a family unit under a Tory government.

Ms May, who said two years ago that the Tories were perceived as "the nasty party", signalled a defiant break with Thatcherism by declaring that "there is such a thing as society".

The shadow Secretary of State for the Family declared that she would "stand up for" gay couples and single mothers bringing up children, and would not judge them for their choice of lifestyle. She urged the Tories to "live in the real world".

"We still believe that marriage is the best environment for bringing up children ... and we know that today people support each other in many different ways," she told the conference. "If you're living together, a single mother on benefits, two elderly sisters or a same-sex couple with a commitment to one other, you are all families and I will stand up for you." She contradicted Margaret Thatcher who said in 1987: "There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families".

Ms Maysignalled her backing for the creed of compassionate Conservatism as she said that the party accepted "changes in the way people live".She declared: "It is not about what you are, it is about how you live. We will be a party of all Britain and all Britons."

Tim Yeo, the shadow Environment and Transport Secretary, announced plans for colour-coded tax discs for cars. The most environmentally friendly would have green discs and the worst polluters, red ones. Other road taxes would be graded according to environmental criteria, he said.

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