Page last updated at 03:59 GMT, Monday, 18 August 2008 04:59 UK

Cameron targets 'broken society'

David Cameron in Lancaster last week
David Cameron talks to teenagers in Lancaster

Conservative leader David Cameron has said he will be as radical a social reformer as Margaret Thatcher was an economic reformer.

In a book about him due out on Monday, Mr Cameron pledged to heal what he called Britain's "broken society".

But Treasury Chief Secretary Yvette Cooper said the Tory leader's "Cameronomics" contained contradictory policies and did not add up.

She said he used "photo ops and warm words" to cover up his "risky agenda".

Mr Cameron said that whereas Mrs Thatcher realised economic revival was necessary, "the challenge for... modern Conservatives is reviving our society".

"Radical social reform is what this country needs right now," he said.

'Welfare dependency'

In the book, Mr Cameron says: "I'm going to be as radical a social reformer as Mrs Thatcher was an economic reformer, and radical social reform is what this country needs right now.

"Margaret Thatcher in her time realised that the big challenge was reviving Britain's economy, and we should recognise that the challenge for the modern Conservatives is reviving our society.

"It's dealing with the issues of family breakdown, welfare dependency, failing schools, crime, and the problems that we see in too many of our communities."

The book, Cameron on Cameron, is the result of a year-long series of interviews with GQ magazine editor Dylan Jones.

It was a lie and it was treating people like fools
David Cameron

In it the Tory leader also says he believes he would now be prime minister if Gordon Brown had not called off plans for a general election last autumn.

"I absolutely believe that if we'd have had that election that Gordon Brown would no longer have been prime minister and that the Conservatives would have been the largest party in a hung parliament," he said.

Mr Cameron goes as far as calling the prime minister a liar for denying that unfavourable opinion polls informed his decision not to go ahead with the election.

"Brown compounded calling off the election by then saying it was nothing to do with the polls, which was a massive mistake. It was a lie and it was treating people like fools."

But Mr Cameron also admits that although he has in the past labelled the prime minister a "ditherer", he too can have a hard-time making decisions.

A serious look at his policies reveals an approach which is at best confused and at worst would be deeply damaging for our economy
Yvette Cooper

"Sometimes maybe I put off making decisions that maybe I should have taken earlier," he says.

The book also touches on a confrontation Mr Cameron had with a van driver, his decision to deliver his first party conference speech as leader without notes, and the dent to his green credentials of having a driver follow him to and from work with his papers while he rode his bicycle.

Writing in The Guardian, Ms Cooper - a close ally of Mr Brown - said Mr Cameron "hopes to distract us with frisbees, floral shorts, and photo ops".

She added: "But a serious look at his policies reveals an approach which is at best confused and at worst would be deeply damaging for our economy.

"Cameronomics is emerging, in which photo ops, warm words and conflicting promises attempt to distract from a risky and destructive ideological agenda."

She also said the Tory leader was pledging to cut taxes, increase spending and reduce borrowing all at the same time.

Ms Cooper said: "He pledges billions in tax cuts on marriage, inheritance tax and stamp duty. Savings to pay for proposals frequently prove illusory.

"Faced with calls to make the sums stack up, Cameron reverts to slogans - 'sharing the proceeds of growth,' or 'living within our means'.

"When pressed, he concedes this means sticking with Labour's spending plans."




SEE ALSO
Is Cameron the Blair of social reform?
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Cameron book: key quotes
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Cameron focuses on 'social decay'
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