Europe: Interviewed on Sunday AM this morning David Cameron said that Eurosceptics tempted by UKIP should vote Conservative at the next General Election because of the party’s opposition to the single currency and the EU Constitution. He resisted Andrew Marr’s suggestion that the Tory position was one of the status quo – resisting further integration but not repatriating powers. David Cameron disagreed and promised that Britain would leave the social chapter should the Tories win the next General Election.
NHS: The Tory leader advocated a highly localised future for the NHS. He said that he hoped for all hospitals to become Foundation Hospitals – owning their own land, employing their own staff and choosing their own specialisms.
Tax and spending: Charged with largely accepting Gordon Brown’s European levels of tax and spending, Mr Cameron said that he would run a different fiscal policy from Labour. He repeated that he would not make up front promises of lower taxation that might be difficult to keep but that he would cut waste and bureaucracy in order to progressively deliver a lower tax economy. He reaffirmed his commitment to share the proceeds of growth between tax and spending and rebalance the tax system. There might be higher green taxation but lower tax on business and families.
Taxing air travel: The Conservative leader said that it was right to make air travel reflect more of the environmental externalities it causes and to ensure fairer price competition between aeroplanes and trains. He rejected Tim Yeo’s ambition to see all domestic flights ended. It was not for politicians to make those decisions, he said. It was for politicians to put a proper price on carbon and let customers and businesses decide which transport methods should prosper.
Iraq: Mr Cameron – confirming William Hague’s Thursday statement – distanced the Conservative Party from Margaret Beckett’s support for George W Bush’s troops surge. Mr Cameron said that a policy closer to Baker-Hamilton would have been preferable including building up the Iraqi army; an internal political settlement between Shia, Sunni and Kurd; more investment in the Middle East Peace Process; and involvement of neighbouring countries in Iraq’s future.
Gordon Brown: Mr Cameron said that he did not know Gordon Brown well. He had only ever held two conversations with him. He did not oppose Gordon Brown for personal reasons but because of his record. He dismissed the Chancellor’s campaign to defend Britishness and said that Mr Brown’s support for regionalisation and ID cards were profoundly unBritish.