Support the family and tackle social breakdown

David Cameron will make supporting families and tackling social breakdown the central themes of his manifesto at the next General Election, the Yorkshire Post can reveal.

He will fight Gordon Brown on a programme that advocates strong families and community responsibility as the cure for social breakdown – backed up by tough measures which could see young offenders banned from driving to reinforce the point that bad behaviour will result in their lifestyles being affected.

Speaking exclusively to the Yorkshire Post, Mr Cameron said: "What matters in an election is: What's the big question? Social breakdown.

"What's the big answer? Family and community policy.

"What's the big difference to Labour? They believe in top-down state control, ID cards, top-down targets, covering the police in red tape. We believe in social responsibility.

"That's an issue, that's an answer and that's a choice."

And in a radical departure from the past, Mr Cameron will refuse to promise tax cuts – while advocating new green taxes.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Cameron insisted that he was ready for a snap poll as early as October and revealed that a Tory election manifesto was close to completion. He has also ordered a review of the shelved Leeds Supertram scheme and is working on ways to win seats in Yorkshire's leading cities.

"There is already a manifesto document on the stocks. So we are absolutely ready," he said. "The marginal seats are selected. We've been very effective in fundraising and in clearing debts.

"The policy review groups' process is well advanced and a manifesto is being drawn up on that basis.

"We're technically and managerially ready for an election."

But in an admission that may encourage Labour to go for an early poll, Mr Cameron said the Tories still did not have enough funds to fight the contest.

Asked if he had all the money he needed, he said: "Not all of it but I think the last 18 months have shown an ability to raise funds from a much broader base. We have not been reliant on a few large donations."

However, he claimed that far from lacking substance, the Tories already had a set of policies and were in a better position than Labour to offer an alternative vision of the country at the next election.

"There are some things we have already committed to," Mr Cameron maintained.

"For instance, in home affairs and crime, we have committed ourselves to a proper border police force. On the environment, we're the ones committed to binding targets on carbon reduction. On education, we've said we want to see setting by ability in every school and stop the closure of special schools."

On tax, he said: "The first is the family tax reductions that will be met by the green tax rises.

"And the second is that over time, as we share the proceeds of growth, some of the suggestions for reducing tax can be implemented."

Mr Cameron rejected accusations that he has moved to the right.

"The Conservative Party is in the centre ground and will stay in the centre ground.

"This Labour attack that I'm some 'mad right winger' just won't work. It's just ludicrous."

The party's local election performance in May, he conceded, had been a "mixed bag" in Yorkshire.

"Where we're organised, where we fight a strong campaign, the modern Conservative Party can do well in Yorkshire," he said.

"But I recognise that in West Yorkshire we've got to do better."

TORIES' ALERT ON UK TODAY

Married couple with two children in Britain have third worst tax rate in developed world.

Over last decade number of lone parents has increased from 1.6m to 1.88m.

Nearly one in two cohabiting parents split up before their child's fifth birthday, compared to one in 12 married parents.

Family breakdown costs 24bn a year, educational underachievement 18bn a year and crime 60bn a year.

70 per cent of young offenders are from lone- parent families.

Spending on prescribed methadone (a heroin substitute) has reached 111m a year alone.

Drug and alcohol abuse is estimated to cost British society 39bn a year.

350,000 children have drug-addicted parents and 1m have alcohol-addicted parents.

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