David Cameron says that the leaders' debates are a risk and he would be inhuman not to be nervous about them
> WATCH highlights of the interview here.
Sky News has just broadcast an interview with David Cameron conducted yesterday by Adam Boulton.
Here are the main points the Tory leader made (not verbatim):
Election date: It looks clear it is a May 6th election and I'm sure Brown will go to the Palace on Tuesday or Wednesday. The Tory campaign is ready to get out there and roll. This parliament has been a "good advert for fixed term parliaments" and I am tempted by the idea, though not yet persuaded.
The leaders' debates: I've always been in favour of them. They are a good thing, a good way of communicating with millions. Is it a risk? Yes. Is it a risk for me? Absolutely, yes. Am I nervous? You bet. You'd have to be unhuman not to be nervous. But it will be an opportunity to say what you would do differently and how the country would be a better place.
Expectation of the result: I've never said we will win, I've said we can win. I just believe we can do so much better than the current government and we now have a great opportunity, and I'm going to be working every hour of every day between now and polling day towards it. We're going to run a very positive campaign, that's why we started the year with positive reasons to vote Conservative, such as cutting the deficit but protecting the NHS and identifying people who've never voted Conservative before.
The style of a Cameron government: A Tory government would need to learn the lessons of where Blair went wrong, by putting aside the "tools of opposition" and rolling up sleeves to get on with the business of government. (He repeated some of the points he made in his Telegraph article yesterday about the values and character he would have, in addition to the policies - which matter most).
Would he work with Nick Clegg in a hung parliament? I'm not going to discuss that. I'm fighting for an overall majority. A hung parliament would be damaging for the country and the economy. We need decisive government and that's what we want to deliver.
This week's debate over National Insurance: It has been a "very significant moment", showing that the Conservatives have a positive alternative to stop the tax rises which are most threatening to the recovery. There has to be a balance between spending reduction and borrowing reduction and Labour have got it wrong. The Tories are able to be progressive Conservatives and stop what is a tax rise that will hit the economy, jobs and people earning less than £20,000.
Weren't all the businessmen backing the Tory policy on National Insurance all Tories anyway? No. They talked about the "risk to the recovery" of the NI increase and include a number who have advised Gordon Brown. "The idea that they are a bunch of stooges is insulting". Richard Caring, for example, still has an outstanding loan to Labour. I welcome good people from business wanting to make a contribution to public life and it is not a bad idea to bring people in from business into politics. (He refused to rule out giving peerages to any of the signatories to the letters).
Labour's failure to tackle inefficiency: Labour have identified £11 billion of efficiency savings but are doing nothing about them in 2010. Which business or family would identify waste but no go ahead and eliminate it as soon as possible? The Government should behave in the same way as every business and family in terms of savings; there would be some job losses through abolishing the ID cards scheme and certain government IT programmes.
The NHS: It remains my "number one priority", and I'm going to put it "right on the ballot paper" and campaign on it all the way to polling day. Any NHS savings from reducing waste, inefficiency or NICs will be available to spend on things that make a difference. (He explained again the new policy announced this weekend to use the money saved from NICs for a Cancer Drugs Fund to help thousands of cancer sufferers get the drugs they need. He also expressed concern about the growing gap between the UK and other countries on cancer survival rates).
The Gene Hunt poster: I'm a fan of Ashes to Ashes and thought it was "extraordinary" that Labour depicted me as Gene Hunt. It was a "very strange poster". People will be thinking it would be great if police officers were out nicking villains and arresting people rather than sitting in offices filling in forms.
God and religion: I expect to go to church on Easter morning. I always said I have faith but wouldn't say I have a direct line [to God]. I'm a fairly typical member of the Church of England but have all sorts of doubts and uncertainties and questions but have found it helpful in my private life. I'm a great fan of faith-based organisations in this country - they bring a huge amount in terms of helping the homeless, helping people find jobs, and looking after the vulnerable in our communities. They have a big role to play. The Papal visit will be a big moment for Britain and I would do all I can to make sure it;s a success.