Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps is never off-message, knowingly or otherwise. He gave an interview to The Spectator earlier this week in which he dismissed criticism of the coalition’s affordable housing programme, attacked Ukip and Nigel Farage, and laid out the reasons for voting Conservative at the local elections. You can listen to the whole interview above. Here are some selected quotes:

Shapps on affordable housing:

‘Look at the coalition’s record over 5 years… We will have put £19bn of both private and public funds into affordable homes and produced 170,000 new affordable homes… I can exclusively that I’m very confident we’ll deliver, and probably over deliver, within the 5 years of this parliament.’

Shapps on local government reform:

‘I think if you’re going to draw wider lessons from Labour’s whole approach and our long-term economic plan it would be this. Labour said that when we started the programme of reducing the amount of money available to local authorities, they said it would be Armageddon… The truth, four years on and something like a 26-28% reduction in the money going to local authorities, is that satisfaction from the public has gone up not down. How is this possible overall? The answer is that there was masses of waste. They’ve found new, innovative and really impressive ways to do things and they’re delivering better services for less.’

Shapps on the Conservative offer on council tax:

‘I think people really got a measure of council tax under the last Labour government. Council tax doubled for almost everybody in the country – in some cases more so. We have put a lot of time, energy and resource in this government, Conservative-led, to try to hold down these council tax bills. Ideally to freeze them, in some cases cut them. Yes, there have been some where that’s not been possible one way or another. But actually, in truth, council tax bills are a hell of a lot cheaper than they would have been under Labour, saving the average family hundreds of pounds. So the point still stands: Conservatives in government nationally and locally tend to run services better, tend to charge less and we do it better.’

Shapps on why Ukip sympathisers should vote Tory at the European elections:

‘…Nigel Farage himself has said that [UKIP] cannot actually change anything in Europe. So the only way [you can get change in Europe] is by voting Conservative. And when you vote Conservative, you’re voting for renegotiation and an in/out referendum. So the most powerful way of sending a message to Europe is to vote Conservative and get Conservative MEPs elected.’

Shapps on Nigel Farage:

‘The allegations [against Farage] look extremely serious – and he’ll need to answer for that. I think the real concern for the British people is that here’s a guy who doesn’t do what he preaches… But what really concerns me is that he doesn’t do what he preaches at an election when he gets asked the question again. So in January he was saying that we should cut welfare, that we should cut the NHS… And then in February, when he was campaigning in Wythenshawe and Sale East, he says we’ll protect and increase the amount we spend on welfare and the NHS.’

Tags: Conservative, Council tax, EU referendum, European elections 2014, European renegotiation, Grant Shapps, Labour, local elections 2014, Local government, Nigel Farage, The View from 22, UKIP