By Tim Montgomerie
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David Cameron is giving a round of interviews today in which he's attempting to "restate" rather than relaunch his Government's purpose. He's spending the day with Nick Robinson in order to produce big reports for tonight's 6pm and 10pm bulletins but he began the day with interviews on TV and also Radio 4. Here are the highlights from his encounter with John Humphrys:
- David Cameron readily admitted that it had been a difficult month and he wanted the Government to do better. The key thing, he said, was to keep an eye on the long-term and on the Government's "economic rescue mission". He insisted that "we are more than accountants" and that his mission was to be on the side of hard-working people who do the right thing.
- On the fuel strike he accepted "that we need to learn lessons in terms of communications".
- On Qatada he said the Government had been right to move as rapidly as possible to begin deportation procedures rather than wait another 24 hours. The Home Office had repeatedly checked on the date for appeal and all of the case law pointed in the same direction. He declined to criticise Theresa May.
- David Cameron insisted we are all still in this together and that the richest 10% are paying ten times more than the poorest 10%.
- The trickiest part of his interview came on tax avoidance. Was he right to have given Sir Philip Green of BHS such a big cross-Whitehall role, asked John Humphrys when he has been accused of putting so much of his money offshore? The PM said he was reluctant to discuss anyone's personal tax affairs on air (this wasn't Ken Livingstone after all!) and refused to condemn Sir Philip. He did, however, agree to Mr Humphry's suggestion that he shouldn't in future deal with people engaged in aggressive tax avoidance. Yes, Cameron said, that would be sensible.
- The PM affirmed his commitment to Lords reform. "I am in favour of reform of the House of Lords. It is the right thing to do." He went on, however, to concede that it was not the most important thing the Government was planning but that the blueprint amounted to "sensible, reasonable, rational reform." He wouldn't rule out a referendum but added "personally I dont see the case for a referendum as a strong one".
- Asked about increasing suggestions that he's lazy he said that he was always at his desk from 5.45am. "This is a huge honour to do this job… but it is hard work. I work very, very hard at it." "It's got to be possible," Mr Cameron said, "to be a decent husband, a decent father as well as prime minister".
The British people know I'll get some things right and some things wrong, the Prime Minister said, the key thing is my average doesn't fall too low.
> On Local Government today we preview the PM's speech in Bristol in support of city mayors.
> In his Monday column Bruce Anderson also defends the PM's work ethic and urges us all to realise that attacks on his Downing Street operation (see yesterday's ToryDiary) are "a thinly-disguised attack on him".