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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 March, 2005, 13:56 GMT
Jeremy Vine interviews
Please note BBC Politics 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.

On Politics Show, Sunday 13 March, 2005, Jeremy Vine interviewed:

  • David Cameron, Conservative Party Chief Policy Adviser
  • Keith Taylor, Green Party lead spokesman

David Cameron
David Cameron, Conservative Party Chief Policy Adviser

David Cameron, Conservative Party Chief Policy Adviser

Jeremy Vine: And I'm joined now by the Conservatives' head of policy co-ordination, David Cameron, welcome to you. The system is obviously working, you stopped Max asking his questions.

So, let me ask you first of all about the Terror Bill if I can. If some of the insiders are right, your party may have been hit by a pre-election manoeuvre of the most deadly kind, where it ends up looking softer on terrorism than the Government.

David Cameron: I think that's absurd. I think no one would believe that the Conservative Party is soft of terrorism. Conservative MPs have lost friends and colleagues to the IRA, they've tried to kill the whole cabinet when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister; I think it's an absurd thing.

I think the Conservative Party in Parliament did the right thing, which was to try to improve the Government's bill, and to make sure there was a proper chance to repeal it and put something better in its place next year, whoever is the government, we hope it's going to be us, and I think we did the right thing and I think it was a great improvement to the Bill, the Government had to give way on a lot of areas.

The bill was completely different by the time it left the House of Commons and became law, as to when it started.

Jeremy Vine: Aren't you caught up in the detail when you run that argument. Isn't the fact of it that on the big picture, the Government wanted to do something very nasty to suspected terrorists and you didn't want them to do it.

David Cameron: No, I think that's wrong actually. I think what ended up, the message people take out of it is that Blair is very arrogant, is that he doesn't listen to anyone. And also ...


Jeremy Vine: He's bothered about security, he's bothered about terrorism.

David Cameron: Except for he lost control of events and that's very bad for a prime minister. He completely lost control of his own bill, and he wasn't in control and that's bad. And no one thinks, I mean the Conservatives have got a very good record in terms of fighting crime and being tough on terrorism, and that's exactly what we'd do in office. Blair lost control of events, it was a dreadful week for them.

Jeremy Vine: But you ended up did you not, fighting for the rights of suspected terrorists.

David Cameron: We ended up fighting for the liberties that we've had in this country for centuries, and it's very very important that actually, Parliament does its job properly of making sure that these orders are led by a judge rather than by a politician, that there's proper scrutiny of these things and proper safe-guards are put in place. That's what people want us to do as politicians, and that's what we did.

Jeremy Vine: We had Rick Nye in the piece, who's from Populus, used to be one of your colleagues at the Conservative party saying tactical victories in Westminster don't necessarily translate in to real strategic gains and there's a danger for you isn't there in being caught up at what happened in Parliament this week.

David Cameron: I think, I'd say what really matters is the overall campaign where we've set out very very positive measures. We've said that we want to ensure there's proper school discipline, that we've got clean hospitals, we're putting police on people's streets; we've been very positive and I think that's why our campaign has gone well as your piece said. Labour's campaign on the other hand has been incredibly negative. It's been about, you know, anti-semitic posters, bringing back Alistair Campbell, misusing the Freedom of Information Act, and that's why they've looked flat-footed. They've struck a very sour note and I think we're at the very exciting moment in this campaign, fewer than fifty one days to go I think till May 5th, where people like what they're hearing from the Conservatives, they know that our priorities, the cleaner hospitals, the school discipline, are their priorities, they now want to know how we're going to deliver it, and they want to know we're going to stick to it and that's the challenge for us, but it's very exciting.

Jeremy Vine: Are you sure what you are saying is getting across. Michael Howard, a few months ago told the Guardian, and the quote is on the screen, 'we've not been able to get our key policies across to the public at large as effectively as I would have liked. In party political terms, this is not where I want to be. I'm frustrated."

David Cameron: It's always frustrating politics, we want, you know, we always want to be doing better, doing better in the polls, but I would say in the last month we've made some real break-throughs and it's because we were positive. We set out very positively, how we'd reduce tax in our first budget.

Jeremy Vine: Were you positive, with Margaret Dixon's shoulder, were you positive?

David Cameron: Well, I think there are some real failures in the health service. Margaret Dixon came to the Conservatives and set out, he'd tried everything else. She'd written to the Health Secretary and not had a reply, and so we raised her case.

Jeremy Vine: It was an attack on Labour wasn't it?

David Cameron: But it brought the issue of the fact that Labour have invested a huge amount of money in the health service, but they simply haven't delivered the results, and that is a perfectly legitimate point to make.

Jeremy Vine: But it looked negative, it looked like an attack on Labour. It was an attack on Labour.

David Cameron: Yeah but what I'm saying Jeremy is if you look at the balance of our campaign, if you look at the fact we announced plans to ensure school discipline, by giving Heads the right to expel unruly pupils. We set out our tax proposals to cut Council Tax for pensioners. We set out a completely new way of running immigration in this country. Those are all hugely positive measures about how we'd run this country better than it's being run at the moment.

Jeremy Vine: You also have a poster which shows a picture of Mr Blair on a red background with one word 'unbelievable'.

David Cameron: Well he is unbelievable. I mean that is ...


Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) ... that's negative.

David Cameron: (overlaps) Well obviously politics is a balance but when you look at what happened last week, I mean he has become unbelievable. One minute he was telling us that the security services were against a sunset clause in the Bill. The next minute the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords said that was completely un-true. Mr Blair is unbelievable. His credibility is in tatters.

Jeremy Vine: It may be impossible for you to run a campaign without going negative. But you're against negative campaigning. You've said that yourself, you said last year, 'people now know they've been let down by Labour. They don't need any more reminders from us. Every reminder we send, probably says as much about us as it does about them.' And you're doing it.

David Cameron: Well I'd say our campaign has been overwhelmingly positive. One of the decisions we took was to release our manifesto in chapters, so we introduce, we released the introduction in January. We then released an education chapter, we've released a crime chapter, a health chapter, all of these things are hugely positive. That's the balance of our campaign. That's why I think the media and the commentators are saying, the Conservatives are having a good campaign because we've set out very positive policies. You showed the example of special schools. The idea there should be a moratorium on the closure of special schools, so we stop letting down children with disabilities and with severe learning disabilities, that's a hugely positive thing to say to people in this country. And Labour, I mean they haven't come up with a single positive thing, and that I think is the big difference between our campaigns.

Jeremy Vine: We heard Rick Nye saying, there's a danger in you looking as if you, you stand for nothing except tactical success and you've talked, haven't you, about not being ideological any more, about being practical.

David Cameron: Yeah.

Jeremy Vine: Is there not a danger for you if you take that approach. That you just speed boat between different issues, and there's no real narrative thread, no sense of what your party is.

David Cameron: Well I think there's a very coherent message at the heart of our manifesto and everything we're saying which is all the things we're doing is about driving power down to individuals, to families and to communities. Whether it's cutting your taxes to allow you to spend more money as you choose. Whether it's letting the head teacher run the local school or letting the health authorities run their local hospitals, whether it's about abolishing regional assemblies and returning the powers to local authorities, everything is about giving power to individuals, to families, to communities. We believe in empowering people, that's what drives us in to politics, that's why we want to do this.

Jeremy Vine: But without an ideology, without a compass you can end up zig-zagging on issues can't you, on ID cards for example, on pub closing hours, even on the war.

David Cameron: Well I think, I'm saying that there is a clear compass, that Conservatives believe in empowering people. We think if you trust people to make more decisions, they'll make the right decisions not the wrong decisions.

Jeremy Vine: That's an ideology then is it.

David Cameron: Well that is, that's our vision, that's what we believe in. What I was saying last week ...

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) You said we're pragmatic ...


David Cameron: ... (overlaps) ... these are pragmatic. These are things that work. If you trust head teachers to run schools and give them the money to get on with the job, they'll do a good job. If you trust people to spend more of their own money as they choose, on the whole they'll make the right decisions rather than the wrong ones. That's what we believe in. That does work and it is pragmatic, and that's exactly what I'm saying.

Jeremy Vine: The chap in Hove that we spoke to, whose name was Peter Lilley, he's one of your party members, was confused about what you stand for now. He called you opportunistic.

David Cameron: Well I think he's an exception rather than the rule. I think that we've set out a very clear set of priorities, that what we want, and what people want, which is school discipline, clean hospitals, more police on the streets, lower taxes, controlled immigration, those are people's priorities, those are our priorities and we've set out a vision for how you achieve that which is empowering people, not believing government has all the answers, but giving people more power over their own lives. I think it's a very attractive alternative to a government that basically, people feel let down by because it's taken their money, it's wasted it, wasted that money, and it hasn't told them the truth about some of the most important issues


Jeremy Vine: You're going negative now aren't you?

David Cameron: There's a balance. Jeremy this election is about a choice. You can have five more years of Tony Blair, if you think he deserves another five years, you can have Labour. If you think it's time for a change, if you think you want a party that actually reflects the things you want, then you can have the Conservatives.

Jeremy Vine: Okay, one more question about people issuing personal manifestos. It's emerged today in your party, there are some Conservatives who'll be standing at the election and they've issued a personal manifesto which says they want Britain out of the EU. Now is that all right?

David Cameron: Well I read this story in the Sunday Telegraph, and it seems to me completely overblown. Most of the manifestos I read were talking about that it's important Britain remains as an independent country, and we all believe that Britain remains as an independent country. We've got a very clear policy on Europe, which is that we should be in the European Union for trade and co-operation, but we do believe there are some powers, powers over


Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) Whether they are allowed to dissent from it or to harden it up in their own manifesto.

David Cameron: Well everybody has to support the policy as it is set out. What I read from that article in the Telegraph wasn't quite the same as what you're putting to me.

Jeremy Vine: So you're not allowed, as a Conservative candidate, to put out a personal manifesto saying you want Britain out of Europe.

David Cameron: Well, there are MPs in all parties, you've got Austin Mitchell in the Labour Party, you've got Teddy Taylor in the Conservative Party, who have always been against our membership of the European Union. You're never going to stop that. But our policy on Europe is very clear. We want to be in Europe but we don't want to be run by it, and we think there are some powers that should come back from Brussels to Westminster.

End of interview

Keith Taylor
Keith Taylor, Green Party lead spokesman

Keith Taylor, Green Party lead spokesman

Jeremy Vine: I'm joined now by one of the Green Party's principal spokesmen, Keith Taylor, welcome to you.

Keith Taylor: Good afternoon.

Jeremy Vine: So first of all, the political system is stopping you getting in to power as Norman Baker was saying.

Keith Taylor: It's a challenge Jeremy, but - the thing is, I'm elected on a first past the post system. In Brighton I'm one of the city councillors there. We're the only party to add seats in the last council elections. I think that the thing is that over a million people in the European elections voted Green, and where Greens have been elected, people like what they get, and they want more.

Jeremy Vine: Let me put this thought to you that the idea of being Green is very appealing to a lot of people. However, in this country, when they look at your specific proposals, they find some of them a bit outlandish. Is that a problem?

Keith Taylor: I think really what we have to do, looking at the Green way of politics, is actually to deconstruct the way things are at the moment, and ask ourselves in whose benefit has that been constructed. And nine times out of ten that people, the interests of people in their environment are very very far down the list. And that is why all those people are giving us their vote, giving us their trust, because they're seeing the real difference that - a great more number than six - what was it, twenty four councillors that Norman Baker just mentioned. I think we have nearly seventy.

Jeremy Vine: It's 2%. But anyway, citizen's income is what you want to bring in. That's a sum as I understand about£2,500, everyone will get it. And that will enable people to work less hard. Is that correct?

Keith Taylor: I think what citizen's income will do is basically two things. It's a citizen's income which is an income which we pay to everybody of working age, irrespective of means testing or whatever. It is enough to pay for the basic elements of life. And then we have a citizen's pension, which will again be paid to all pensioners.

Jeremy Vine: And you strip out some benefits when you're paying that, is that right?

Keith Taylor: It's going to be phased in, and what we will see is, simply put, the poorer 10% of society, will actually get another 25% as an income, and looking at pensions, on the state pension, we'll see an increase of between 27 and 33% to all pensions. And that's irrespective of contributions to national insurance and

Jeremy Vine: (overlaps) And your aim is to reduce the amount of time people spend working, especially in low paid jobs; so they spend more time with their family. Right?

Keith Taylor: Well, I think what we have to sort of recognise that a lot of jobs which are very socially useful like caring for relatives or so forth, people are prevented in some ways, if they're on a lower income, from doing that, because they have to go out and earn a living. Now what we're saying is that economic activity is not the only beneficial purpose that people can actually use their time to achieve.

Jeremy Vine: But we have at this moment in this country, apparently 6,000,000 job vacancies, in what are described as sometimes unpleasant jobs, catering, hospitality, construction, health, toilet cleaning and so on. You don't want British citizens to do those jobs. You want to bring in migrant workers to do them.

Keith Taylor: I think what we have to do is to find sustainable jobs actually to improve the capacity in our local communities. For example, in Brighton, actually the Greens have been instrumental in attaching, as part of a development projects, vocational training for local people. So we are taking unskilled local people, and training them in building skills, which as you know, if you're a plumber, you're made for life.

End of interview

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.

Let us know what you think.

The next Politics Show will be on Sunday, 13 March, 2005 at 12.00.

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