Dylan Jones’ new book Cameron on Cameron is a series of interviews with the Conservative leader. Below are some highlights of Cameron’s responses relating to the economy and taxation.
The potential for tax cuts: "We’ve got to stop taxes going up, we’ve got to stop the council tax going up, stop hitting people so badly. And then, progressively, trying to reduce the burdens on ordinary people by giving them back some of the hard-earned money they’ve lost… [E]very time we go into a Budget, we’re going to be thinking, how can we reduce taxes, is it possible, is it prudent to do so? We won’t be doing what this government has been doing, which is going into every Budget trying to think how they can get away with actually putting taxes up."
Under what circumstances would Cameron cut income tax? "When it would be responsible to do so. Under the circumstances in which the economy is growing and the public finances are sound and you’re able to say to people, look, I know who earns the money in this economy, it’s you, the taxpayers, the business, and I can give some back to you …"
The politics of taxation: "Look, if you take the last couple of elections, we’ve gone into them with incredibly complicated schemes to reduce waste and cut this lot of spending, and fund that bit of tax reduction, and I think it’s both confused people and I think they found it lacking in credibility. I think it’s better to say, look, this is the state of the economy. Frankly, after Labour’s economic incompetence we’re going to have to take some pretty tough decisions to get the public finances sorted. And as and when we can, we will reduce taxes. I think that’s fairer."
Economic growth: "[O]ften people will say, look, does it really matter if the economy grows at 3.5 per cent rather than 3.2 per cent, and over a long period of time, yes, it really does. I had dinner with the Swedish Prime Minister this week and their economic record in the last century was incredible because they did have relatively rapid growth and they went from being one of the poorest countries in Europe to being one of the richest."
Income inequality: "Obviously income inequality does matter … But I think the gap that matters most is the gap between the bottom and the middle."
The wealthy: "I think it’s possible to have more money than you need… In a global economy very rich people will obviously get even richer, but they pay taxes and make a great contribution to the economy and we should do more to encourage philanthropy… You could say, in this age we should just tax rich people more, but I don’t think that’s the right answer. They’re very mobile, and if we taxed them they would just move away. You’d just reduce their incentives. Much better, I think, to encourage philanthropy – endowing universities like they do in America – let’s have the same sort of private philanthopic giving on the scale that you have in other countries."
Has an emphasis on wealth creation made Britain a shallow place? "No, I don’t think so. I think we need to make sure that a richer economy leads to a richer society, and the two don’t necessarily go together… Life is not just about money or balancing the books. I think towards the end of the 1980s we did become too much the economics party. And I think we needed to rebalance. Because a stronger economy doesn’t have to lead to a richer society but it does if you make the right decisions."