Amidst reports that David Cameron "has effectively taken over the party's economic policy" (Iain Martin) the Tory leader was on the Today programme at 8.10am to answer questions on how he would restore order to Britain's public finances (listen again).
A member of the shadow cabinet told ConservativeHome yesterday that the Tory leadership half expects Britain to be in the hands of the IMF by the time the party hopes to come to power and that an IMF regime will force a programme of cuts. Labour ministers have been at pains in recent times to suggest that going to the IMF should no longer be seen as shameful. David Cameron mocked that alleged preparing-of-the-ground in his response to the Budget on Wednesday.
During his Radio 4 interview Mr Cameron declined to add to existing Tory commitments on public spending restraint but he did say that the public have a "right to know" how the Conservatives will fix the deficit problem.
Mr Cameron said that a Conservative government would focus on getting "more for less". There needed, he said, to be greater focus on getting value for money from existing spending. He outlined three areas for savings:
- Stopping the extensions of the state into new areas eg ID cards
- Reviewing the current transfers of tax credits to higher earners
- Reviewing the pay enjoyed by the quangocracy while protecting nurses, teachers and other frontline staff.
He said that he opposed Labour's 50p tax rate but repeal would have to join the queue of the demands on the public purse. He reiterated George Osborne's pledge that repealing the increase in National Insurance on those earning £21,000 or more will be a higher priority.
I set out my three Tory budget priorities yesterday. On Star Chamber today we seek your views on Vince Cable's spending cut ideas.