In an interview today David Cameron makes a direct attack on the Prime Minister as that "strange man in Downing Street".  The Times chooses to splash his remarks about non-believers going to church in order to get their children into church schools.  The Tory leader refuses to condemn parents that the newspaper describes as ‘faith school fakes’:

“I think it’s good for parents who want the best for their kids. I don’t blame anyone who tries to get their children into a good school. Most people are doing so because it has an ethos and culture. I believe in active citizens.”

Melanie Phillips is unimpressed:

"For a politician who aspires to lead his country to endorse lying and cheating is to give the public the message that he himself is not to be trusted. The implication that ‘active citizenship’ means securing advantage by not telling the truth is deplorable. It is possible to acknowledge the fact that so many parents are driven to play the system in this way by the appalling standards in our schools, and to decry the pressures that drive them to do this, without endorsing systematic deception. If Cameron has indeed crossed that line, this will be held against him by a public which already suspects that he is not a man of principle, and taken as proof that their instincts are correct."

Some other highlights from David Cameron’s interview with The Times:

The top Conservative team is excelling: "You still see the contrast between our two teams: William Hague, David Davis, George Osborne all are doing well and being seen to be doing well. One can imagine them doing the jobs that they are shadowing far better than the minister they are shadowing.”

Brown sees everything in political terms: “I am afraid that he sees [42 days’ detention without trial] as a totally political weapon: let us try and make the Tories look soft on terror. That is my problem with our Prime Minister: he looks at every single issue from the point of view of what is the right dividing line that divides me from my opponent, not what is right for the country, and I think that is what he is doing here.”

On matching Labour on spending: "We will
look at [the projected spending figures] and see if they are consistent
with our principles. If they are we will support them.  I am being very
careful because if you say anything else that strange man in Downing
Street will cook up an enormous package of Tory spending cuts. It is
complete and utter fiction. I have seen it done before and I have
learnt a thing or two in the last few years.”

On Afghanistan: "We should be asking how
we can surge the political effort, the aid effort and the
hearts-and-minds effort. There is probably no number of troops that
could turn Afganinstan into a success story. The success of Afghanistan
will be if you manage to get the rule of law; if you manage to have the
Government’s writ run round the country; if you manage to train up the
Afghan Army; and you co-ordinate the aid.”

On a North Atlantic Free Trade Area: “A
new economic alliance, building on the work that is already under way
to harmonise market regulation between the two sides of the Atlantic,
can provide the West with . . . the increased growth that comes from
deeper and wider free trade internally and the scale that will enable
us to be at least equal partners with the South Asians. Centre-right
free trade economics, and centre-right atlanticism, can together give
the West its proper place in the coming century.”

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