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Last Updated: Sunday, 6 November 2005, 10:38 GMT
Radical root?
On Sunday 06 November 2005 Andrew Marr interviewed David Cameron MP

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

David Cameron
David Cameron MP

ANDREW MARR: Now earlier David Davis told me why he's the best man for the job when it comes to taking over as the new leader of the Conservative Party.

David Cameron's been pretty much having the best of the opinion polls to date and he's attracting support from a wide variety of quarters.


ANDREW MARR: This weekend both John Major and Ken Clarke have hinted that they would be inclined to support him in the current contest but what are the policies behind the man.

David Cameron joins me again. Welcome.

DAVID CAMERON: Good morning.

ANDREW MARR: I suppose what your critics say, in essence, is that you've got the manner, back to the manor born, you sound great, but when you probe you don't really have the nitty, gritty policies - and it's no good just saying well it's a few years off, people need to know a little bit more about what you really stand for.

DAVID CAMERON: I don't think that's right. I think I've set a very clear direction on the economy - let's share the proceeds of growth between tax reduction and increased investment in public services - that's different to the government and it's the right approach. On urban regeneration, I've set out a range of -


DAVID CAMERON: - well hold on - what we can't do, Andrew, is try and write the whole of the 2009 manifesto in the next few weeks. I think that would be a misjudgement and a mistake ...

ANDREW MARR: But David Davis is going further -

DAVID CAMERON: But just let - but no, no, no -

ANDREW MARR: - than you will on these issues.

DAVID CAMERON: That's right. Let me give though one example. Today, in the Independent on Sunday, Geoffrey Lean says that my proposals on climate change are the most thorough-going and interesting of any British politician. Now that is detail and that is substance.

But I think there is a judgement issue here. I think setting out tax plans, 38 billion pounds of tax cuts, to start in four years time and to finish in nine or ten years time, I just simply don't think is sensible and I'm not going to do that.

What people want, I think is after three election defeats, is to see the Conservative Party have an intellectual revolution to get the best brains in business, in academia, in think tanks, to really think through the long term solutions to this country's problems - so a clear sense of direction from me during this leadership election, with a lot of detailed work to follow.

What I want us to get away from is what we've had in the last eight years: policy by newspaper headline. You know, marching kids off to cash points -

ANDREW MARR: Well I - we've heard - but if you

DAVID CAMERON: - night ... and all of that - but it's vitally important Andrew.

ANDREW MARR: If you think that David Davis is not sensible on these matters, presumably, after the contest, if you win, you usher him politely back to the back benches, you don't give him a top job.

DAVID CAMERON: No not at all. I think David is a formidable politician, he's got a lot to offer the Conservative Party, what I've said throughout this contest is I don't want to offer jobs in advance to anybody. I'm a great believer in trying to win the contest ...

ANDREW MARR: ... what about offering status and authority? Are you saying to David Davis that if you win this contest you will be a big break ...

DAVID CAMERON: ... he is - he doesn't need me to say that, he's a big beast -

ANDREW MARR: He needs you to put him in the shadow cabinet in a top job -

DAVID CAMERON: Well I would offer a top job to all the people who have the talent, the energy, the experience to bring the best to the Conservative Party - and that includes David Davis. Yes but it's very important not to offer jobs in advance, because I want to show a party that really is open to talent.

And I think this also comes back to this policy point. If you write all your policies now, years in advance, on Europe, on tax, how are you going to get the best and the brightest to join the shadow cabinet ...

ANDREW MARR: So, you think he's not sensible on this but you are going to offer him a top job.

DAVID CAMERON: No. I think that he has got a great deal to contribute to the Conservative Party but I haven't offered jobs to anybody, and I'm not going to offer jobs to anybody unless and until I win this contest.

I was in George Osborne's constituency the other day and I made this point and I was booed by his constituents who said you must offer George a job, he's a fantastic politician -

ANDREW MARR: And a member of your set as well, so we - you keep saying on that subject that you don't think people are interested in the history of candidates, they want to know about them now.


ANDREW MARR: Could I beg to differ, in the sense that if you become leader - it looks at the moment quite likely - and if you become prime minister, people are going to want to know a lot about your past. They're going to want to know about David Cameron the man.

You do come from a pretty privileged background; you had a wild time at Oxford and I, I can't remember the Evelyn Waugh phrase about the Bullingdon club, but it's something about the great old English families baying for the sound of broken glass, if you can remember that. Just tell us a little bit about all of that.

DAVID CAMERON: Well I had a, a very good time at university. It's a great three years of your life when you both work but you have a good time, you make friends, you meet different people -

ANDREW MARR: But are you not a sort of privileged elite?

DAVID CAMERON: No, not at all. I think what actually matters in politics is not where you've come from but where we're all going to. You know, what are your ideas, what are your approach, what do you bring to, to politics.

And I think - I agree with you - I think people are perfectly entitled to look at your life now and see what sort of person you are and I'm a young guy, with a young family, and I live a fairly straightforward existence and I've got used to having cameras outside my house and snappers every time I go.

ANDREW MARR: And daddy on telly I hear -

DAVID CAMERON: My daughter refers to me as daddy on the telly, rather than daddy, but, you know, you get used to these things and I think people are entitled to have a, have a good look at you but I think the past is the past.

ANDREW MARR: In the television debate that you did with David Dimbleby, Question Time, one point that came up quite a lot from Conservatives in the audience, was a sense that you hadn't really had a proper, what they would regard as a proper, job, that you're part of a slightly glossy, new group of people - in both parties - coming up through the think tanks and special advisors and being around in Whitehall carrying bags and so on. How do you, how do you respond to those who say "well he's very good but he hasn't been knocked around enough in real life in earning his living in the profit-making part of the economy"?

DAVID CAMERON: Well I would answer that in a number of ways. I have been knocked around a bit, not least as a parent, bringing up a severely handicapped child - that does knock you around a bit, I can tell you, you spend a lot of time sleeping on hospital floors, sitting in accident & emergency late at night.

So I've had my, I admit I've had a very privileged and warm family upbringing myself but I've had some knocks in my life. On this thing about business and experience, I have spent some years in Whitehall - I think that's a good experience to have actually seen government in good times and in bad.

I was in the Treasury on that disastrous day when we left the Exchange Rate Mechanism and I learnt some pretty good lessons then - which is that you don't link your currency to other currencies, and that's why I would never join the European single currency. Lots of politicians who were around at the time - Tony Blair and Gordon Brown - haven't learnt that lesson. I also spent seven and a half years working for a big British company -


DAVID CAMERON: - and these are all -

ANDREW MARR: - but if I may say so -

DAVID CAMERON: - one of my jobs was trying to convince American investors and German investors and French investors to buy into the British economy and for that you needed a good understanding of business.

So I think I've got a range of experiences but what, what matters most to the Conservative Party is there's a proper - let's step back from it a bit - there is a big choice opening up here. Do we go down a sort of core vote, right wing agenda, playing the same tunes that we played -

ANDREW MARR: Which is what you think that David Davis is doing at the moment.

DAVID CAMERON: It does sound a bit like that, and frankly if we play the same tunes we end up with the same song, we'll end up with the same position the charts - second - and I don't want that to happen.

Throughout this contest, and the reason I entered this contest, I have set out a modern, compassionate conservative alternative and said we've got to reach out to millions of voters that haven't supported us before and I've said - and this comes back to the detail point - that we need this intellectual revolution in the party to really do the long term work that will help convince people -

ANDREW MARR: So you think -

DAVID CAMERON: - hang on - this is really ... to help convince people that the Conservative Party has understood why it's lost, it's understood how Britain has changed, it's reaching out to embrace new voters and people who haven't supported us - this is vital for us to do it, otherwise we get the same result.

ANDREW MARR: If it's vital for you to do it then that means that if David Cameron doesn't win this contest, then the Conservative Party is likely, or likelier, to lose the next general election - is that what you're saying?

DAVID CAMERON: I'm not saying that.

ANDREW MARR: Well it - that means it can't be vital.

DAVID CAMERON: I'm not - I'm ...

ANDREW MARR: ... be true ...

DAVID CAMERON: I'm putting forward my own ideas, why I think I've got the right approach. If people like that, then they'll vote for it.

ANDREW MARR: But if it's a crucial question, as you said for the Conservative Party, which way do they go? If they don't go your way, surely what you're telling the country and the Conservative Party is you'll then lose again.

DAVID CAMERON: Let me put it like this, if we don't do the things I'm talking about we'll find it much more difficult to win - I'd put it that way. But, you know, if you look at all these polls and research, they all seem to show that my ideas, what I'm putting forward, gives us the best chance of winning the next election.

And that's what I want us to do. I'm fed up with us losing and seeing what has happened to this country under eight years of the Labour government.

ANDREW MARR: We were hearing earlier on from Sarah Sands, I mean the Thames is kind of a gurgle of cocaine at the moment. Do you think, on reflection, talking about reclassifying ecstasy, reopening some of these issues in a more, quotes, liberal way is a mistake?

DAVID CAMERON: What I want is a drugs policy that works, and not just one that sounds good. I don't underestimate the dangers of ecstasy and it has taken young people's lives.

But we've got to be clear that drugs policy in this country, under all governments, has been a monumental failure. In 1970 there were 2000 heroin addicts, there are now over a quarter of a million, and I think we've got to make some new approaches and I've set out very clearly -

ANDREW MARR: You don't, you don't step back from what you said on ...

DAVID CAMERON: No, well let me, let me ... we need a real emphasis on education. I've sat at the back of classrooms and listened to ex-addicts describe to children how their lives descended into hell. I want that to happen in every school in the country.

ANDREW MARR: You want it to work.

DAVID CAMERON: I want it to work.

ANDREW MARR: David Cameron thank you very much indeed for joining us.


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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