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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 October 2007, 10:13 GMT 11:13 UK
Surge in popularity?
On Sunday 14 October Andrew Marr interviewed David Davis MP, Shadow Home Secretary

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

David Davis MP: photographer Jeff Overs/BBC
David Davis MP, Shadow Home Secretary

ANDREW MARR: Now it's probably the case that this has been the best fortnight for the Conservatives since the final days of the 1992 election campaign.

David Cameron's silenced his internal critics, the polls has shown a huge surge in support after John Osbourne's, George Osbourne's inheritance tax proposals.

But if they feel ready for power they've got to find something to do for the next eighteen months or so.

So where next, what kind of party are they really becoming?

Well I'm joined by one of the big beasts on the Tory front bench, Shadow Home Secretary David Davis, welcome. You've been around a bit David Davis.

It's been a fantastic time for the Conservatives. But these things can change on a penny. How are you going to fill up the next eighteen months or so? Presumably not simply in, in oppositional attacks, fun though that is.

DAVID DAVIS: No the, the battle will go on. I mean you shouldn't forget that Ge.. Gordon Brown is the grand architect of Blairism. And one component of Blairism is using the government machine to promote your cause, that's what he's done. So we're going to have a battle with them.

I mean there's no doubt about that. We shouldn't get too complacent about the next eighteen months. We've also still got quite a lot of policy development to do. I mean we've got the main cause in place, but I mean David, this last couple of days, has been in California talking about what, what I've called the politics of the new centre.

That is how you empower people who are being.. given their public services. How you give them power, through using the internet, using other mechanisms. So there's a whole area still to develop.

ANDREW MARR: You talk about the new centre, but you have been.. you've described yourself as a guarantor of traditional Conservative values inside team Cameron.

Now that means things like talking about tax cuts and so on. The minute George Osbourne does talk about tax cuts your support goes through the roof. So you must feel very pleased, vindicated.

DAVID DAVIS: Well I was actually quoted.. I was quite.. some, somebody else who was being quoted on that, but never matter, the, but then the, the simple point is this, the, the things we have been putting out in the public display if you like in the last few weeks, because we thought there might be an election this week, are things that have been talked about for some time.

I mean you don't, don't imagine that the balanced agenda is an invention of the last week, it's not. The balanced agenda is where we've been all along. I mean take my own area, I'm gonna give you an example, take my own area.

I mean people say, oh he, Davis has been talking about immigration, that's generally right wing. Actually the policy I talked about last week on immigration was one we first aired nearly twelve months ago, but didn't get coverage then .

ANDREW MARR: Well let's, let's turn to that. Because the problem, a lot of people say with that, is that the vast majority of immigration to this country comes from inside the EU, and there's absolutely nothing that you can do about it.

DAVID DAVIS: Well actually it's half and half. I mean of the gross immigration, the total immigration, our total incoming flow, it's six hundred thousand last year, roughly.

Three hundred thousand was from Europe and three hundred thousand was from outside. So it's half and half. And of course you can't do anything about immigration, now the government has signed up, so there's no transitional arrangements for the new countries, which there should have been and so on. So we can't do anything about that. But we can do something about the other three hundred thousand.

The aim is not to do away with immigration, the aim is to get a proper balanced immigration, which will serve our economy, serve the immigrants themselves who come here, the people who come here, but also make sure we don't overwhelm housing, schooling, community relations, the things that, which we value.

ANDREW MARR: Now you're a keen walker..


ANDREW MARR: And when you go walking sometimes you think you've got to the summit and then the, the mist or the lift, the clouds lift and there's another summit and another summit and another summit. You haven't really got to the turning point..

DAVID DAVIS: I'm very familiar with the syndrome, yes.

ANDREW MARR: Well indeed. So, so explain to me where you think you've got to. Was this a turning point week?

DAVID DAVIS: Well it was an important week for, for, for one fundamental reason. And, and frankly it was more Gordon Brown than us that did it. And that was that he fractured this carefully cultivated, you know I am a straight man, not a man of spin, he fractured the I, I've got a vision, when he had to steal ours as it were, on his, on his pre-budget report. All the things which he was trying to build in the first few months were broken by him, by, or by his system.


DAVID DAVIS: Now what we've got to do is, is to continue the process of actually developing what we stand for. And that's very important.

ANDREW MARR: So you got lucky.

DAVID DAVIS: No, it's not, no, well, yeah poli.. of course..

ANDREW MARR: You got lucky.

DAVID DAVIS: .. of course there's fortune in politics, there's no doubt, no doubt about that, but it wouldn't have worked if David hadn't made that brilliant speech at conference.

It wouldn't have worked if actually if the whole conference hadn't been probably the best conference I can remember in the time, in the long time as you point out that I've been in politics. And that's incredibly important, that the party rose to the occasion and had the best, the, the best couple of weeks since nineteen ninety two.

ANDREW MARR: It was just very noticeable to a lot of people that when David Cameron, the Conservatives, were talking about green issues and hoogie hug.. hudding.. hugging, hoody hugging, it's even difficult to say, and all of that stuff, there were, you were struggling in the opinion polls. And when you returned to a more traditional Conservative agenda you started to rise in the opinion polls.

DAVID DAVIS: Yeah let's, let's, let's, let's..

ANDREW MARR: You can't.. you, you, you must have noticed this, come on.

DAVID DAVIS: Let's, let's, no, no, let's get it right. The, the, the, the raw truth is we've been behind in the polls over the summer in Brown's honeymoon. But before then the, one thing was happening, a transformation was happening in British politics. And that is that the public at large were starting to listen to the Conservative party.

They haven't listened to us for a decade, they're starting to listen to us again and saying, these people have got something to say which is interesting, it's useful, it meets the problems I face. Whether it's, whether it's about the origins of crime, hug a hoody was never David's phrase, but the origins of crime were, or the origins of crime he, was what he was talking about, or whether it's the broken society, or whether it's the green agenda..

ANDREW MARR: Origins were .. a Blair phrase, Brown phrase I think originally..

DAVID DAVIS: Actually probably..

ANDREW MARR: But, but, but nonetheless..

DAVID DAVIS: They just, they just never lived up to it.

ANDREW MARR: No.. none, nonetheless you know, all the way through the, the sort of what's been called by, by George Osbourne the uber-modernising tendency was in the ascendant.

People may have been listening, but they weren't often liking what they heard, all this kind of windmill and every bicycle stuff. That has been pushed to one side, the party has shifted back to its traditional base.

DAVID DAVIS: No I don't, I don't think it's pushed to one side. I mean we've always wanted to have a balanced agenda, as David's aim more than anybody else's. And frankly the great, if you want to pick somebody who's had a great fortnight it's George Osbourne, not me.

I mean he, he's the man who actually made one of the breakthroughs, just one of the breakthroughs. And, and then Brown had to copy it. I mean ten years as Chancellor and then you have to copy the Shadow Chancellor's policy. I mean what sort of lack of a vindication is that of having a vision for Britain. So of course there's, there's a need for a balanced policy, but as I say it's the politics of the new centre.

You know, the world has changed over the last decade. There are things that matter today much more than they did a decade ago, or are more apparent today, like some of the green agenda. There are things which are, have got worse over the last decade, the broken society argument. All of these have meant the problems a new government will have to face have changed, and as a result the politics that deals with it has to change.

ANDREW MARR: Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday was spectacular to put it at it's lowest. But it was also, I mean when, when Gordon Brown said Punch and Judy politics, there will be a lot of people watching who don't like that and who picked up on that.

DAVID DAVIS: Well I think the, the, the simple truth is I mean David doesn't believe in Punch and Judy politics for it's own sake. But what we all believe from, is from time to time the opposition has to represent what the public feel about what's going on.

I mean I've long said we, you know we are the p.. we are the champions of the people of the victims of state failure, the victims of, of government failure. And what we were doing this week was voicing the concerns that people had about what this government's up to.

ANDREW MARR: But you could also see that David Cameron and Gordon Brown now loath each other.

DAVID DAVIS: I don't know about that. I mean it, it, you mustn't, I mean people often assume, I mean I've been in.. involved in the departure shall we say of, of four Home Office ministers. It didn't mean I loathed any of them, actually I rather felt sorry for some of them.

But they wouldn't, you wouldn't have thought that necessarily watching us at Despatch Box. There's a job to be done. Our job is to represent the concerns of the public, and when a government fails in that to nail them for it and say, this is wrong, you've gotta get it right.

ANDREW MARR: Alright. David Davis thank you very much indeed.


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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