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Cameron tells Marr that he wants net immigration cut to the "tens of thousands"

Screen shot 2010-01-10 at 10.15.51 Highlights, not verbatim, from David Cameron's interview with Andrew Marr.

  • David Cameron insisted the Tories are not a one man team after Andrew Marr asked him about the very "I" focused poster launch. The Conservative leader said that one of the things that he is most proud of is the strong team he has built. He highlighted the fact he had brought back Ken Clarke and William Hague on to the frontbench.
  • He refused to be drawn on whether he was a radical in the Thatcherite tradition or more of a manager.  I'm a modern, compassionate Conservative, he said, but the shake up he planned would be radical. "Responsibility" is my watchword. We need "a revolution in responsibility".
  • He said that the state had gone too far in terms of legislative activism, IT databases, ID cards, and political bureaucracy. The state needs to be pulled back and Conservatives would start cutting the deficit earlier than Labour. We are not the "old Tories" of the 1980s and we are not going back. I have not changed the Conservative Party as a wheeze to get elected. One of the big changes is our absolute and non-negotiable support for the NHS.
  • Cameron praised Alistair Darling for yesterday's Times interview in which he accepted that there must be spending cuts. He said the Chancellor's intervention was an important moment in politics.
  • Signalling again that the Tories' emergency budget - should they win office - might involve significant corporation tax reform, Mr Cameron said that the emergency budget would be about growth.
  • He announced some measures for small businesses including action to make it easier to start a small business and deregulation that would allow tenants of social landlords to run businesses from their homes.
  • Mr Cameron said he did not support a population of 70 million. Net immigration had been 200,000 in recent years, he said, and Conservatives wanted to cut that to the levels of the 1990s, ie "tens of thousands" rather than hundreds of thousands.  The immigration cap would be fixed each year, in accordance with Britain's economic needs. [Yesterday, Chris Grayling announced a crackdown on the student visa system.]
  • He said he was a big supporter of the BBC and of the licence fee. He appeared to reject a proposal from Greg Dyke that the licence fee be abolished and the Corporation become funded from general taxation. On balance, he said, there were dangers of it looking like state control.  He promised to loosen up the rules to help commercial broadcasters compete with the "dominant" BBC.
  • Near the end of the interview he noted that he'd cut Tory debts from £23m to £5m. That, I hope, is a taste of what I'll achieve in Britain, he concluded.

Screen shot 2010-01-10 at 10.16.14 After the interview was over, sat on the sofa with Chris Evans ('the new Wogan'), the Tory leader won some extra street cred with the revelation that the two used to play football together on Wednesday afternoons. Evans was a goalkeeper and Cameron an opposing striker. The new Radio 2 breakfast presenter said the Conservative leader had been pretty good.

Tim Montgomerie 


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