Tories offer to back the poor and minorities

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Indy Politics

Iain Duncan Smith accused Tony Blair yesterday of neglecting the poor and creating a more "unequal" society than under Margaret Thatcher or John Major.

The leader of the Conservative Party spoke of shattering Labour's "monopoly on compassion" and used New Labour rhetoric to illustrate his point. He was speaking at a two-day conference in Millbank Tower, the site of Labour's old headquarters in Westminster.

He announced plans to move in on Labour's territory in low-income areas and said Labour was failing to help the one million children living in "severe and persistent poverty. They're the challenges of the many, not the few," he said. "We live in a world where poverty challenges our moral conscience and our security."

He added: "Britain's left-behind communities are often thought of as Labour's ... heartlands. But there's little heart in the way Labour neglects and forgets these communities."

His attempt to reposition the Conservatives as the party concerned for low-income families and ethnic minorities will receive a setback this week in the Brent East by-election - an area in London where 50 per cent of people are from the ethnic minorities and have low incomes.

The Tories are likely to be driven into third place by the Liberal Democrats, who may win the seat from Labour.