Update: The BBC website now has a full transcript of the interview here.
David Cameron was interviewed at his West London home by Andrew Marr this morning. The chat by his cosy fireplace did not see him let his guard down – but it did mean that there were frustraing technical glitches which led to the interview falling off air for short periods on three occasions.
Nevertheless, here are the main points the Tory leader made.
Probably most interesting was his comment on the likelihood of a return for Ken Clarke in an impending reshuffle: "As far as I’m concerned he’s back already," said Cameron. "I’ve got all of the big beasts in one shape or form…" before the line with his home was lost. When it returned, he cited both Clarke and Lord Heseltine as being among those big beasts who were "all working for me in one way or other". As you would expect, however, he refused to be drawn further on reshuffle plans: "You’ll have to wait and see".
On the economy, he said that the Government’s VAT cut had been "short-term foolish, long-term very foolish as it’s added to the national debt". Regarding the Government’s plan for a rise in National Insurance and the introduction of a 45% tax rate, he said "we’d like to get rid of both of them" but said that he was obviously unable to commit to anything at this stage, not least as there would be a further budget in March.
He repeated his pledge not to cut spending on health, schools,
defence and international development but that in other areas there
would not be such a great level of increase in spending as planned by
Labour. He also cited ID cards, the children’s database and the NHS
computer as examples of wasteful things proposed by the current
Government which he would scrap.
He refused to predict how things would go for the economy.
"I’m not an economic forecaster; I don’t believe in making forecasts,"
he said. But he did say that he thought the Government would adopt the
Tory proposals for a loan guarantee scheme. "I think the Government
will finally take up this scheme," he said, adding that "every day the
Government delays, more people lose their jobs".
One of the reasons he wanted a general election now, Cameron said,
was to "stop the Government from making it [the economic situation]
worse". He said that an election would "help confidence in the economy"
as a new Government could start with a clean slate, make long-term
decisions and admit to mistakes that have been made.
Marr asked Cameron whether he felt he had made mistakes. "I have
made mistakes…," said Cameron, at which point the programme fell off
the air again. On returning, the one example he came up with was to
say: "I see how unaffordable Labour’s spending plans are – perhaps we
could have seen that earlier".
He was asked what kind of Conservative he was, to which he replied:
"Responsibility – that’s what my Conservatism is all about". He said he
believed in giving people more power over their own lives but that
people – individuals and government – need to be responsible with that
On preparations for going to the country, he said: "I will be ready
and my team will be ready at any time [for an election]", although he
did not necessarily expect it to happen anytime soon. "I really don’t
know whether there’s going to be an election [this year]," he said,
citing the chances at "maybe 50/50". But in terms of the result, he was
insistent that he would not be taking people for granted: "You never
settle the deal until your fellow countrymenwalk into the polling
booths… and people decide to make the change," he concluded.