David Cameron has given an interview to the Daily Mail where he appears to confirm that he will extend Right-to-Buy to 2.5m housing association tenants – a plan first revealed by James Forsyth. Here are the main points of the interview:-
1. Cameron says he’ll extend Right-to-Buy, blames Lib Dems for resisting him thus far.
‘I am a massive supporter of the right-to-buy. I have sweated blood in this government to get the Liberal Democrats, who don’t really buy this and believe in it, to agree to bigger discounts, to market the right-to-buy to stop councils hiding it away from their tenants. We’ve got more people who’ve bought their council homes. We’ve got the discounts back up. It’s working again. But it’s been like pulling teeth, getting blood out of a stone with the Lib Dems who have frankly… a view ‘oh, do people really want to buy their council homes?’ ‘Yes, they do. Unencumbered by the Lib Dems we’ll put rocket boosters under this policy.’
It’s wrong for him to blame Lib Dems; the reservations to the IDS plan to extend Right-to-Buy were internal Tory ones. Even now we don’t have full details of the plans – perhaps because they haven’t yet been drawn up.
2. Next stop: ‘full employment’
‘If we train those three million apprentices, cut corporation taxes as we’re planning to do, go on with the investment programme in infrastructure, road and rail improvements, if we see continued expansion in housebuilding with the success of Help to Buy, if we go on with the improvements in skills training… I see no reason why we can’t get to a level which is higher, that we’d see as full employment.’
This strikes me as a bit odd: on some measures the UK is already banging on the door of full employment. But I suppose it emphasises the Conservatives’ greatest single boast: the jobs miracle.
3. Does God.
‘I’ll maybe have a bit of a day of rest. [Easter] is the most important Christian festival in the calendar. But the rest of the time I’m going to be pretty hard at it.’
Funny to hear Cameron describe Easter in those terms, as if to someone who had not come across Christianity before.
4. Denounces Red Ed (and anticipates pushback on extending Right-to-Buy)
‘It’s that mindset of “we know best”. “Don’t buy your council house because that’s thieving from society”, they say from a well-upholstered, comfortable red-brick Victorian mansion that they bought. ‘We’re not going to cut your taxes because frankly we know how to spend your money better than you do’. ‘Buying shares in businesses that you work for or state-owned enterprises, that’s selling the family silver’ – this sort of condescending view that we know best, the man in Whitehall knows best, rather than I think the best ever Conservative slogan: trust the people. That’s what we believe. I do think when you look at what Ed Miliband really thinks, it is a very kind of Hampstead socialist, we know best kind of view. It’s that mindset that says choice, freedom, responsibility, aspiration – that these are things to worry about rather than celebrate. That’s what I’m having a go at.’
5. Boasts about how Tories are better than Labour at welfare
There’s a very strong Labour argument for reforming welfare. They should be the party of work, not the party of welfare. People got trapped on welfare. Yet it has been a Conservative government that has come along and made these difficult decisions, and actually got 900,000 people off out-of-work benefits and into work.
6. Describes his own home-buying experience:
‘That’s the most natural instinct in the world. Owning your own home – I’ll never forget the moment I got the first keys to my first flat and walked through the door. You just feel so excited that you own something and you’re going to take care of it.’
First time I’ve heard him talk about this. A bold move, one that will invite journalists from the more enterprising Sunday newspapers to establish just how much of a mortgage he had to take out on his first flat.
7. Poor SamCam to be wheeled out
‘She will be sometimes on her own, going to support candidates, some of the time with me, some of the time sorting out the children’s homework and her business and everything else she’s got to do. She’ll take multi-tasking to a new level. She’s already done a bit more, and is really keen to. She’s really up for it, she’s very sort of pumped up about it, really wants me to win, is really focused on the campaign.’
She’s pumped! Not talking about his retiring, then! And she anyway appears at the end of the Tories’ first video.
8. And why he missed that daft immigration target:
‘You have had this extra circumstance where we’ve created more jobs than the rest of the EU put together. This is not an excuse, because we need to do better.
9. But he will now stop immigrants claiming tax credits and welfare
We’ve got to cut EU migration, we will… Effectively the current system gives people as much as £8,000 after tax extra for coming to work in the UK. If you remove that by saying you’ve got to work here for four years before you get out of the system I think that would have a very big effect’.
10. And the SNP…
‘Labour ought to rule out not just coalition – but any form of deal with the SNP. They can’t recover in Scotland unless they actually say “we’re not going to deal with these people. While they are saying effectively they’re going to deal with them, that’s giving people in Scotland a green light to vote SNP. They’ve got to have the courage of their convictions.
‘The only party that’s actually recovering a little bit in Scotland is the Conservatives, because we’ve said “we’re not dealing with these people, they want to break up our country, we’re not having anything to do with them. Vote for what you believe in”.