David Cameron has for some time been wanting to do one of these Newsnight panel-style interviews. Watching it, I can see why. He excels at answering rapid fire questions, and easily recalls all his main slogans and sound bites. Here are my thoughts…
1. He could have been more robust rebutting Michael Crick when he questioned Cameron’s “anarchy in the UK” line. Throughout the Tory years, recorded violent crime peaked at 347,064 a year (in 1997). Last year, it was a record 1.3 million offences. Cameron’s researchers should click through and familiarise themselves with this staggering data. British streets have never been more dangerous.
2. He only mentioned “social responsibility” once. Good.
3. Like James, I was impressed by his handling of the marriage issue. He reeled off all the statistics showing kids do better in marriage, and said he simply wanted to remove the current system which pays families to break up.
4. He called for a “culture change” in Britain again. It’s becoming my pet hate, and reminds me of the East German joke about choosing a new electorate.
5. Democracy “cannot be dropped out of an aeroplane at 40,000 feet” – as he knows, no one said it could be. But it’s language which anti-Americans will recognise. So what, many will say. I’m afraid am amongst those particularly sensitive to this.
6. He pointed out that the US has quarterly reports to Congress about what’s happening in Iraq and we need “clear, impartial, accurate” information about Basra. Exactly so. After Blair lied his way into Iraq (a war which I supported) we cannot allow Brown to lie his way out – saying Basra is peaceful when death squads reign supreme.
7. He missed a trick on immigration, I felt. Mass immigration can only be understood in connection with Labour’s 5.3m on out-of-work benefits. They are sucked here by a Labour-made hole in the UK labour market. They cover up Labour’s failures on British joblessness. But he bit the bullet and said it is “too high” and rightly focused the pressure on housing and public services.
8. “Airports are going to go on expanding” – thank you and good night, Zac Goldsmith.
9. He ably dealt with the “what will you do about all those City bonuses” moan. “People look at the Damian [sic] Buffini’s in this world and say ‘I can do that’”. Exactly the right sentiment – recalling Michael Howard’s best-ever speech, The British Dream.
10. Crick had a good point that too many of the Shadow Cabinet have other jobs, which gives the idea that they’re not 100% committed to winning the election. “It’s a fair point” says Cameron. I hope he acts on this soon. The moonlighting sends out a wrong message.
A while ago, I feared a snap election for the simple superstitious reason that I’m off to Manhattan on Saturday for a week, hugely looking forward to it and news events normally conspire to stop me having fun. Now, I’m more upbeat. If Mr Brown was watching Cameron tonight, he’d be less minded to hold a snap election. There is far more life in the Tories than seemed to be the case last month. So I think I may get away after all.Tags: The week that was