Interviewed on this morning’s Today programme David Cameron made it clear that he would be sticking to his programme of modernisation. The Conservative leader was quizzed first on Ali Miraj’s overnight attack (read it in full here) for his alleged obsession with PR. Mr Cameron responded with a direct questioning of his critic’s motives:
"I think listeners will draw their own conclusions about someone who one day asks for a peerage, to be elevated to the House of Lords, and the next minute launches a great attack on the leader of the Conservative Party."
I think we can safely say that Ali won’t be joining the green or red benches any time soon as a Conservative. Tune into Radio 4’s World at One for Ali Miraj’s response.
Mr Cameron was also asked about other criticisms from Graham Brady, Lord Saatchi and Lord Kalms. Eschewing bridge-building he said that Mr Brady’s views had to be understood in light of his resignation over grammar schools and Lord Kalms had backward-looking views and had never supported him as leader. He said that he understood many of his reforms had been unpopular but that there would be no U-turns:
"When you make changes to the party as I have done, when you put it in the centre ground, when you change the policy on the NHS and say it there for everyone not opt-outs for a few, when you are as clear as I am that you have got to have economic stability before tax cuts, not everyone is going to agree."
He said that opinion polls come and go but the fundamentals of Labour failure would soon reassert themselves.
"When you look at the fundamentals, what’s going wrong in our NHS, the fact that there isn’t proper discipline in schools, the fact that the Government said ‘we would give you a referendum on Europe’ and now won’t. When you look at the fundamentals I don’t think we are seeing real change in this Government and I don’t think Gordon Brown can be the change the country needs."
1.15pm update: Speaking on the World at One Ali Miraj accused David Cameron of attempting to smear him and of a complete lack of integrity. He pointed a finger at Andy Coulson and reminded readers of the royal phone bugging scandal that the new Tory Communications guru was associated with when he edited the News of the World. He now seems on a mission to cause as much damage to Team Cameron as possible.