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Page last updated at 11:13 GMT, Sunday, 11 January 2009

Wipe the slate clean?

On Sunday 11 January, Andrew Marr interviewed David Cameron MP, Conservative Leader

Please note 'The Andrew Marr Show' must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

The Conservative leader insists a change of government could restore confidence to the economy.

David Cameron MP, Conservative Leader
David Cameron MP, Conservative Leader

ANDREW MARR: And today I'm in West London, at David Cameron's home - a home he of course hopes to leave for a certain official residence courtesy of Britain's voters come the next General Election.

Mr Cameron, good morning.

DAVID CAMERON: Good morning.

ANDREW MARR: Before we turn to domestic matters, let's start with the big news, which remains Gaza. More deaths overnight, clearly more to come. What's your message to the Israeli Administration?

DAVID CAMERON: Well the message to everyone is stop. We desperately need a ceasefire on both sides. I mean the pictures on our television screens are horrific. The sight of you know dead children and children crawling over the bodies of their dead parents are just appalling to see, and the loss of life really has been horrific.

So we need a ceasefire. In the last few days, I've spoken to Prime Minister Olmert, I've spoken to Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, and also to Tony Blair with his role out in the Middle East, and I think you know we really need it to be a ceasefire on both sides. That has to happen. You know we can't have a situation where rockets keep going from the Gaza... from Hamas into Israel, but we do need a stop on both sides.

ANDREW MARR: And, as David Aaronovitch said a little earlier on the programme, very difficult to see that happening because you've got to stop the rockets, which from the Israelis' point of view means militarily defeating, smashing Hamas, which is why they're not stopping.

DAVID CAMERON: Well it's not just action needed. We need Israel to stop, we need Hamas to stop the rockets. We also need... Crucially, I think the Egyptians have a very key role to play in helping to destroy the tunnels through which the rockets and the arms are getting to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and to have a proper border crossing that is run effectively and efficiently.

So everyone has got their role to play. I hope that Britain can do as much as it can. I was disappointed that it wasn't an Anglo French peace initiative. I think we need to be active on this. It's such a vital issue not just for people in the Middle East but all over the world.

ANDREW MARR: Would you like to have seen a little bit more from President-elect Obama?

DAVID CAMERON: Well it is difficult because you only have one President at a time, but I think it's vitally important for the whole world and to drain the swamp of angry Muslim opinion that the new President, when he gets in, makes this a real priority.

This issue and various others in the world, we really do need to solve. And I think it is soluble. I mean I've spent some of the last three years... It's frustrating in opposition because you can't do much, but you can meet and talk with people and I've met Prime Minister Olmert of Israel several times, Shimon Peres I've met many times. And something he said to me really stuck in my mind. He said, "Look, actually, you know there is light, there is the chance of a deal.

The problem is there isn't a tunnel." And I think that's a wise thought because in fact all the people you talk to, whether it's Presidents and Prime Ministers from the Palestinian side or on the Israeli side, there is the possibility of a deal of a two state solution, but we need everyone to roll up their sleeves and make it happen.

ANDREW MARR: Do you think that this part of the story makes the world more dangerous not just for Jews around the world, but also for the rest of us?

DAVID CAMERON: Undoubtedly it does. Look, Tony Blair is right to say, as he did recently, that what happens in the Gaza Strip should not be an excuse for anyone to be radicalised.

And of course that's right, but we have to deal with the world as it is. And you know just travelling round our own country, talking to people - and not just Muslims, talking to people - you know they are angry about what's happening in Gaza. They see the pictures and the loss of life and whether you're a Muslim or not, you feel for those people.

ANDREW MARR: I was mentioning President-elect Obama just now. He is announcing a massive stimulus, a boost to the economy.

I'm not clear from the Conservative point of view whether you think that is a bad thing for him to be doing, or whether you think it's a good thing but we can't do it because we're not in the same financial position.

DAVID CAMERON: It's the second.

ANDREW MARR: The second.

DAVID CAMERON: I mean fiscal stimulus...

ANDREW MARR: So if we could do it, it would be a good thing?

DAVID CAMERON: Fiscal stimulus is, you know cutting... Look, I believe in cutting people's taxes. It's one of the reasons I'm in politics, is to leave people with more of their own money to spend as they choose. The tragedy in Britain is that we have such a high deficit, we are borrowing so much this year and next year. Next year, we're going to be borrowing more as a percentage of our national output than Dennis Healey did when the country went bust in 1976. So we have to deal with the world as it is.

ANDREW MARR: As it is. So if you could be persuaded that we could afford the kind of fiscal stimulus that Labour are putting into effect, you would think that was a good thing?

DAVID CAMERON: Well I've looked at the figures and I don't think we can afford it, and so I have an alternative. I mean I think that's what's interesting about politics now: you've got two parties with a very different vision. My alternative is that the VAT cut was a big mistake - twelve and a half billion pounds really wasted. This week, the Head of Marks and Spencer's, the Head of Next, the former Trade Minister Digby Jones all saying this was a waste. Instead of doing that, we have a different approach, which is to say the government has got to tighten its own belt and has got to make sure that, yes, government spending should go up, but it should go up by less than Labour plan, and we'd use that money to help savers. There are 18 million people in this country who get some income from saving.

That income has collapsed because of the reduction in interest rates. So we say cut the taxes, in fact actually abolish income tax on savings income for anyone paying tax at the basic rate. That would help many, many people. And the good thing about it is it's wise in the short-term because it gives people money, which they can spend if they want to, who are having a tough time; but it's also wise in the long-term because I think as a country, as a nation, we do need to encourage more of a savings culture. So it's short-term wise and long-term wise. Whereas the VAT cut - short-term foolish, it hasn't worked; long-term - very foolish because it's really added to the national debt.

ANDREW MARR: Well let's look at that because you said that you came into politics to cut people's taxes, among other things. You're in a position - and I'd like to get this clear...

DAVID CAMERON: Yuh.

ANDREW MARR: ... where you are going to have to go ahead with an increase on taxes for the better off - 45p on income tax for the better off. Correct?

DAVID CAMERON: Well we want to avoid... What's happened here, let's be clear. Because our deficit situation is so bad, because we can't really afford a fiscal stimulus, even the Labour government had to admit that some taxes would have to go up in future, and they talked about, they said national insurance will go up for everyone earning over £19,000 and there'll be a top rate of tax of 45 pence in the pound.

ANDREW MARR: And do you stick by both of those?

DAVID CAMERON: I don't like either of them. I'd like to get rid of both of them. But I know how tough the situation is going to be and we've said that our priority will be trying to stop the national insurance rise that hits the people on £19,000 and £20,000. Be clear, my priority is to help people on you know ordinary incomes from Labour's... I want to stop Labour's tax rises on them, you know.

ANDREW MARR: But you don't dissent from the argument that you're going to have to put up taxes if you come into power and that the better off, the rich as it were are going to have to pay more?

DAVID CAMERON: Well, Andrew, it's a very difficult question to answer, to be frank, because I don't...

ANDREW MARR: It's fairly straightforward.

DAVID CAMERON: Well not really because we've got another budget this year. There may not be an election till next year, so we might have two more budgets. My real worry, and why I'm so keen to have an election now, is I want to stop this government from making it worse. They've wasted twelve and a half billion pounds on the VAT cut. I think it will go down in British economic history as one of the most expensive failures ever. They've got another budget in March. I'm worried that they're going to do it all over again.

ANDREW MARR: As you know, the Government says it's too early to tell about that.

DAVID CAMERON: Yuh.

ANDREW MARR: On the spending side, you're going to try and ring fence health, education and international development.

DAVID CAMERON: Yes.

ANDREW MARR: That means that you're going to have to take out about 3.7 billion from the current plans across the rest of the budget, which is for instance something like 800 and something million from the transport budget. The last bit of the jigsaw that you've been putting together is exactly what that means. Aren't people grown up enough to be told the truth?

DAVID CAMERON: Yes, I think they are, and I think people understand the big figures, which is very important just to get straight. This year, the Government's going to spend £620 billion.

Next year, they plan to spend £650 billion - an increase of 30. What we're saying is don't cut the total. Increase it, but not by 30 billion but by 25 billion. I think it's perfectly acceptable to say that's an increase, but we're going to trim the increase and use that 5 billion, 4 billion of it to cut the taxes on savings and the rest of it we'll spend in another way.

ANDREW MARR: So my question to you is where are you going to cut?

DAVID CAMERON: Well we've said that we're going to protect health, schools, defence and international development. The other departments, my ministers would have to go in and to say... and basically you know instead of a bigger increase, they're going to have a 1% real terms increase. Now that's a real terms increase.

ANDREW MARR: (over) Well, for instance, you would have to cut on plans quite substantially the transport budget, and yet your party is committed to a great expansion of the rail system. These things are incompatible.

DAVID CAMERON: They're not. I mean the long-term plans for Britain are for a second West Coast mainline railway, and we're saying instead of making that just a standard railway, make it a high speed railway. That is perfectly practical.

ANDREW MARR: Which is going to cost money...

DAVID CAMERON: Yes, but...

ANDREW MARR: ... which is money that you don't have and you won't...

DAVID CAMERON: Yes. But, Andrew, everyone knows there's enormous amounts of waste in government and we've already said a lot of things we won't go ahead with. You know ID...

ANDREW MARR: (over) Everybody says they're going to cut waste.

DAVID CAMERON: ... ID cards. We're not going to do ID cards. The Children's Database - we're not going to do the Children's Database. The NHS computer - we think it's got completely out of control. We would be a different government - less top down decision making from Whitehall, less of these grand plans and programmes. And, as I say, we're not cutting the overall level of government spending; we're just reducing the increase.

ANDREW MARR: Sure, but that reduction, that reduction in terms of real money is enormous. I mean you know we are talk¿

DAVID CAMERON: (over) It's not. It's not. It's instead of increasing...

ANDREW MARR: Well we're talking, we're talking about £3.7 billion, which everybody...

DAVID CAMERON: No, we're not actually. We're talking about 5, 5 billion pounds.

ANDREW MARR: Or £5 billion, even bigger. That's a lot of money and I put it to you that there would be more credibility if you could tell me, tell people watching, the kinds of things that you will have to cut or not go ahead with - to make that...

DAVID CAMERON: Yes and I've said things like identity cards, things like the Government's advertising budget. These are things you can definitely do.

ANDREW MARR: (over) Too small. Too small, I would put it to you.

DAVID CAMERON: Okay, let me put it to you another way. The Government itself, when they announced their pre-Budget Report, they cut over £30 billion off their future spending increases. No-one asked them, "Well what does that mean with the things you're not going to go ahead with?"

They recognised, partly because of the pressure from us, that government spending for the future was just too ambitious. Now, as I say, we're not cutting the overall level, we're just reducing the increase, and that is exactly what it says it is - a reduction in the increase. It means you can still go ahead with things, but you're going to have to be more careful.

My ministers are going to go into Whitehall and try and cut out the waste and make sure the money gets to the front line. I think it's one of the reasons we need a change in government. The current government I think are not able to admit to the mistakes, not able to admit to the waste. It's one of the reasons why I profoundly believe an election will really help...

ANDREW MARR: Sure.

DAVID CAMERON: ... with the key issue, which is confidence in the economy.

ANDREW MARR: So you think that your Transport Minister can go into the department and take £840 million out through efficiency savings...

DAVID CAMERON: Well we haven't...

ANDREW MARR: ... and still have money for extra railways?

DAVID CAMERON: Well we haven't separated out exactly what it means for each department. What we've said is the departments I've mentioned are protected, but otherwise you know an increase of government spending, we're planning an increase of government spending from 620 to 645 billion. That is a £25 billion increase.

ANDREW MARR: And you don't feel, you don't feel in any way worried or nervous about standing out so clearly against the fiscal stimulus? I mean even Stuart Wheeler, who supports your party, pays it a lot of money, says that he agrees with Gordon Brown.

DAVID CAMERON: Look, I think in politics you've got to do what is right. You've got to do what you believe in. And I profoundly believe that borrowing 8% of our GDP next year and borrowing another £105 billion the year after, this government is going to double the national debt. We're going to be borrowing a trillion pounds.

ANDREW MARR: What happens if it works? What happens if by the end of this year, we are starting to see an upturn; it hasn't been the disastrously deep and long recession that people are talking about at the moment; things seem to be on the up? Won't that have shown that Gordon Brown was right and you were wrong?

DAVID CAMERON: Well let's be clear about what's happened so far. We've had the VAT cut, twelve and a half billion pounds. Think of the schools and hospitals you could build with that, and yet you've had the Head of Marks and Spencer's, the Head of Next, the former Trade Minister all saying it's no good and you're seeing retail sales go backwards. We've had a government employment package, and yet unemployment is going up. You had the stamp duty holiday and yet house prices are falling faster than for many, many years. So the point is...

ANDREW MARR: (over) How bad... Sorry... How bad do you now think it's going to get? You see these figures across your desk.

DAVID CAMERON: I'm not an economic forecaster, I don't believe in making forecasts. I believe in doing the things that would actually make it better. My frustration is that instead of concentrating on these very expensive measures that aren't working - and I think it's clear now that what the Prime Minister has done hasn't worked - he should focus on the things that really would make a difference. What is actually happening in our economy is a shortage of credit. If you talk to businesses - small, medium or large - they're seeing overdrafts withdrawn, credit lines taken away, special interest rates being charged, trade credit being cancelled. This is the crisis and that's why you need the National Loan Guarantee Scheme...

ANDREW MARR: Sure.

DAVID CAMERON: ... that actually my shadow ministers and me have announced on your programme, I think this is the fifth time we've talked about it...

ANDREW MARR: Yes... No, you've...

DAVID CAMERON: But why I feel so frustrated about it is we talked about this at the start of November. Compared with last year, there are ten more businesses going bust every single day. Every day the Government delays, more people lose their jobs.

ANDREW MARR: (over) If it's self-financing, it may well not work because the reason that businesses aren't getting the credit is that the banks are rebuilding their books, as they've also been told to do, and there isn't money to do both things at the moment.

DAVID CAMERON: It's not actually...

ANDREW MARR: (over) Less money to spend.

DAVID CAMERON: ... it's not actually a problem of money. Many of the businesses will say to you it's not that they can't get hold of a loan with a high interest rate. They can't get hold of a loan at all! It's not the price of money that's the problem; it's the quantity. And why the National Loan Guarantee Scheme is so important - because it reduces the risk to the banks because the Government's standing behind it. It means money would get out of the banks and into the businesses.

Now I think the Government will finally take up the scheme, but they have wasted so much time and so many businesses have gone bust as a result. Nissan where I was on Friday, even they were saying, "Look, you know almost half of the collapse in the car market is because of the collapse of credit, not just the recession." And that's an incredibly powerful message.

ANDREW MARR: Do you... If you were in No. 10 at the moment and Nissan came to you, the other carmakers came to you and said, "We've done a very, very good job for this country. We've created a lot of employment. We need some help in the short-term", what would you tell them?

DAVID CAMERON: Of course I want to help. But let's take Nissan because what...

ANDREW MARR: So would you bail them out in the short-term to keep those jobs?

DAVID CAMERON: Nissan doesn't want taxpayers' cash. This is what's so fascinating. That's why I went there on Friday. I wanted to listen to the management. And it's an amazing place. I've been there before, but it's the most efficient Nissan plant...

ANDREW MARR: Yeah.

DAVID CAMERON: ... in the world. It produces a car at the moment, the Qashqai, which has been fantastically successful, so there's nothing wrong with the plant and there's nothing wrong with the car. The sales have collapsed and the Head of Nissan told me almost half of the collapse of sales is actually down to the fact that credit is so tight. So what we need is the National Loan Guarantee Scheme. We need it extended to car financing, so actually we can get people able to buy cars again.

ANDREW MARR: Alright.

DAVID CAMERON: Again it's the problem - you know it's a credit crunch, stupid as it were. That's what I'm so keen to get across.

ANDREW MARR: A few moments ago, you also talked about savers. You said you wanted to turn this country into a country of savers rather than spenders as it were. Now does that mean...

DAVID CAMERON: We need a savings culture, a savings culture.

ANDREW MARR: Does that mean that you flinch or blanch or are hostile to the historically low, almost zero rates, as far as savers are concerned of interest rates at the moment?

DAVID CAMERON: Well the low interest rates are necessary because we're in a deep recession, but that's one of the reasons why the Government should take up our plan to trim the growth of government spending and to use the money to abolish tax on savings for those who pay tax at the basic rate because that would help those people who've been hit by the low interest rates. But over time, I mean one of the things we've got to do in this recession is make sure the things we do to help now also help to build the strong and more balanced economy we need for the future.

And I think anyone standing back and looking at the British economy would say that over time, we do need a higher savings rate because that would actually help. One of the problems the banks and building societies have is that they don't have the deposits to lend out and they've been reliant on the wholesale markets. Those markets are now shut and that's why the credit crunch is so bad in Britain.

ANDREW MARR: I'd like to ask you about what kind of Conservative you really are because you said two interesting things recently. One - you're targeting help for savers at the bottom end...

DAVID CAMERON: Yuh.

ANDREW MARR: ... and, two, you don't resile from raising taxes, if they have to go up, from people at the top end. Now, as you know, you're under some criticism from people inside the Conservative family for being too middle of the road. Matthew Parris wrote quite an interesting column - you may have seen it - saying he's been too Blairite. Blairite is now very, very old-fashioned. It's time to be a slight¿ to be the Conservative you really are underneath the skin, to speak it more openly, to use a tougher kind of language.

DAVID CAMERON: Well the word that I think sums me up is 'responsibility'. That's what my Conservatism is all about and that's why... Do you know, it would be the easiest thing in the world right now to say let's slash taxes, let's go on an enormous spending spree, to hell with the budget deficit. That would be such an easy thing to say, but I really think it would be wrong.

ANDREW MARR: It would give me an easy interview, I have to say.

DAVID CAMERON: It would really, but I think it would be wrong. And I think that government's got to be responsible, I think people have to be responsible, bankers need to be responsible.

That's where we've gone wrong. So at the heart of my Conservatism is, yes, a belief that you should give people more power and control over their life, you should try and cut their taxes, let them spend more of their own money as they choose, but in return for that we need individuals, businesses, government to behave responsibly, and that I think is what's been missing.

And that's where you know what I say about the economy links very much to what I've said about social breakdown and family breakdown and all the things going wrong in our society. The two very much go together.

ANDREW MARR: Are you going to reshape your team?

DAVID CAMERON: Well I've got a very good team. I think you know they've delivered the best results for the Conservative Party in 30 years. I've always said...

ANDREW MARR: (over) I think there's only 11 of them that are top table.

DAVID CAMERON: ... I've never recognised that stuff you get in the papers. They're a great team. I always look at ways of improving them. But it won't surprise you, even in the comfort of my own home, I'm not going to tell you about that this morning.

ANDREW MARR: It would be, would it, too divisive to bring back Ken Clarke, for instance?

DAVID CAMERON: Well, as far as I'm concerned, I mean he's back already. One of the things I think I've done is actually I've brought the Conservative Party together and I've got all of the big beasts in one shape or form...

(TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED - TO SOPHIE RAWORTH IN STUDIO)

SOPHIE RAWORTH: And apologies for that. We seem to have lost the lines to Andrew there. Well, anyway, we're going to have a little more of a discussion. We were actually just talking then about economic issues and David Cameron there not actually prepared to go on about how bad things could get. I mean what do you think?

DAVID AARONOVITCH: It's a very, very difficult position for David Cameron there because, on the one hand, if he says, "I think that we could be heading for a full-blown depression", in that case he could be accused of effectively forecasting a depression or being downbeat about the chances of the economy. I mean, likewise, the Government's in the same sort of situation.

(BACK TO INTERVIEW)

ANDREW MARR: Many thanks. I'm sorry about that. We were talking about the kind of Conservative you are and I was asking whether or not it wouldn't be a good idea to bring back Ken Clarke. You've got Peter Mandelson on the business side there. Don't you need somebody with the pugnacity and the familiarity in terms of the public at that sort of level?

DAVID CAMERON: The danger... I don't know when we went off air, but you know I've got the big beasts in my tent. You know Heseltine works for me, Clarke works for me...

ANDREW MARR: You just said, "I'm bringing back David Cameron, I'm bringing back David Davis." That was the bit that we missed.

DAVID CAMERON: (laughs) I didn't say that, but I have you know the big beasts of the jungle like Ken, like Michael Heseltine, all working for me in one way or another. But I always look at ways we can strengthen the team. But, as I said earlier, I think even in the comfort of my own sitting room, I'm not going to tell you, I'm not going to tell you.

ANDREW MARR: (over) Just tell us about David Davis. Coming back?

DAVID CAMERON: You'll have to wait and see.

ANDREW MARR: Alright. Let's turn to another of the stories that's dominated the papers today - Prince Harry, what he said about "the Paki". Is that a storm in a teacup or something that you would find disturbing?

DAVID CAMERON: Well it is obviously a completely unacceptable thing to say and it's right that he has apologised. And I think it's important in the great institutions - whether it's the army or whether it's political parties - you know we've had to root out attitudes that are...

ANDREW MARR: (over) Unconscionable language like that.

DAVID CAMERON: ... and that, you know that has to go right across the institutions. It's important. It's very important everyone in this country - wherever they come from, however...

(TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTED)

SOPHIE RAWORTH: Well there we go. This is going to be an interesting sort of throwback from the studio to West London. We may go back to Andrew, but... We could go back to Andrew. Shall we go back to Andrew right now? Sorry about this.

DAVID CAMERON: ... it's so important.

ANDREW MARR: So do you think that the army should take some further action? Should Prince Harry be reprimanded?

DAVID CAMERON: No, he has made an apology.

ANDREW MARR: And that's enough?

DAVID CAMERON: I think it's important he's clear about that and I think that's enough.

ANDREW MARR: Let's turn to the other obvious subject of the year. You heard the Prime Minister saying that, indicated that perhaps there wouldn't be a General Election this year. Of course you've always got to be ready for one, but isn't it the case that he's going to wait until he sees any signs of green shoots? It's going to be a long, slow 2009 for you.

DAVID CAMERON: Well I will be ready and my team will be ready at any time to have that election. We have the money raised or are in the process of raising it; we have the campaign ready. But the real reason I want it is actually I think the key ingredient missing in the economy is confidence - that confidence people have you know to go out and invest in a business or buy a new home or actually sort of return to the economy - and I think a new government would help with confidence.

Why? Because you can wipe the slate clean. You can take long-term decisions instead of short ones. You can admit to the mistakes that have been made in the past. You can reshape the regulatory systems that have failed. This government finds those things very, very difficult to do. They won't admit to mistakes. The Prime Minister in particular finds it impossible. And you can see in America...

ANDREW MARR: (over) I kept trying to get him to admit to mistakes...

DAVID CAMERON: He won't do it.

ANDREW MARR: ... and he wouldn't say. So I'm going to ask you. What are the mistakes you've made as Conservative Leader so far?

DAVID CAMERON: Oh, I think I have made mistakes - no doubt. I mean most of the...

(TRANSMISSION INTERRUPTION)

SOPHIE RAWORTH: And at that crucial moment, David Cameron saying he has made mistakes...

DAVID AARONOVITCH: You wonder what they were, don't you?

SOPHIE RAWORTH: ... but unfortunately we don't know...

ARLENE PHILIPS: Yes, yes.

SOPHIE RAWORTH: ... and right now we're not going to find out. Just to elaborate on what he was saying, do you think there could be an election coming up?

DAVID AARONOVITCH: He was talking about the possibility, or Andrew was, of the long, hard 2009. Without an election, I think that is what's going to happen. I think he is going to have a long 2009. And as that process goes on, the questions, which are not always asked about oppositions about their own policies, become bigger and bigger and bigger, which is one of the things that Labour wants. That's one of the reasons why they'd rather go long.

SOPHIE RAWORTH: Okay, now we're going to give it one more go. Apologies for this, but we are going back to West London and Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: I was asking you what mistakes you'd made, and just at the crucial moment we were taken off air yet again.

DAVID CAMERON: I promise there's not one of my press officers outside sort of chopping the cable at the key moment. I was saying that you know I think that, you know I now see just how unaffordable Labour's spending plans are. Perhaps we could have seen that earlier. But the key thing is this: that you know a new government just has that opportunity to say right, this is the change we need to make. It's long-term change, not short-term change. Here's how we reshape the regulatory system.

This government can't do that because they can't admit to the mistakes. And that in order for confidence to return, people have got to feel the Government is taking long-term action and right now this government just seems to be rushing round saying anything, spending anything, talking about anything. But often when you get to grips well what have you actually done, it all falls apart.

ANDREW MARR: Sitting here in front of your own hearth, in your waters do you think you're going to be Prime Minister by the end of the year?

DAVID CAMERON: I really don't know whether there's going to be an election. I would say it's maybe 50-50, but I will be ready at any time. And, as I say, I would like one. The most important thing, not just because I want to get on with it and I want to take the plans we have and put them into place, but I think it would be good for the country actually to have a Prime Minister who can take long-term decisions, who can admit to the mistakes that have been made and start to build that stronger economy for our future.

ANDREW MARR: You've said that you haven't settled the deal yet with the British people. Is that still the case? Do you think you've got, you've got a further reshaping of Conservative image and party to do before you're ready for power?

DAVID CAMERON: I'm just, I just believe you never settle the deal until the moment at which your fellow countrymen walk into the polling booth and decide to make the change and to vote for you as Prime Minister.

You know it's an extraordinary honour to have this job and a huge honour to be Prime Minister, and you never take anything for granted. You put forward your team, your proposals, what you want to change in the country, and then in the end people will decide. And it's not decided literally until it is decided and I never... Even when we were 20, 25 points ahead in the polls, I never felt you know that somehow the next election was written in stone. It never is until that vital moment that people decide to make the change - the change that I think is so vital for our country.

ANDREW MARR: And if people say are thinking well I'll vote for that David Cameron and his Conservative Party because they're going to slash public spending and cut my taxes - that's wrong, isn't it?

DAVID CAMERON: That's not what they should be thinking. I think what they think is this would be a responsible government that would make government live within its means, that would relieve some of the debt burden being piled up on our children, that will help me and my family and people like me with more of my own money to spend as I choose. Those are positive things.

But, above all, I also hope people will think as well as the economic issues this is a Conservative Party that really understands the breakdown in our society, the problems of crime and social breakdown, and will start to get to grips with them.

ANDREW MARR: David Cameron, with apologies from all the wonky cables snaking across West London. We are now almost at the end of today's programme. Time to take our leave from the Cameron family home.

INTERVIEW ENDS


Please note "The Andrew Marr Show" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.


NB: This transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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