Peter Hoskin

Cameron defends his spending cuts – and suggests there won’t be more before the election

Cameron defends his spending cuts – and suggests there won't be more before the election
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Want some more David Cameron?  Well, the Tories are happy to oblige.  After their party leader's speech yesterday, he is interviewed in the FT and appeared on the Today programme earlier.  The FT interview was certainly the more comfortable of the two.  In it, Cameron stikes a confident note – saying that his party have "come a long way," and that "people are gagging for change".  And he stresses that he thinks – and, apparently, Ken Clarke thinks – that George Osborne is "the right person" to be Chancellor.

But Cameron had a tougher time in his Today Programme interview.  It started well, with Today highlighting the supportive letter that business leaders have written about the Tories' national insurance cut.  But soon Sarah Montague was asking: how much spending would you actually cut this year?  And Cameron could only produce figures that sounded like fiddling in the margins: £6bn here and there, in the face of a £175bn deficit (and, let's not forget, over £900bn of debt).  And then Montague followed up with some old quotes from Cameron and Osborne, attacking the kinds of efficiency savings that the Tories are now using to fund the NI policy.  Cameron's reply was that the Tories have also set out proper spending cuts, and that maybe the government should do the same.

To be honest, I have some sympathy with Cameron on that last point.  And he put it well.  It is, as Danny Finkelstein put it last week, a scandal that the serving government hasn't released a spending review at a time when we need one most.  Yet the Opposition – who, by definition, aren't in power – seem to catching most of the white-hot flak.

That is not to say the Tories couldn't do more to set out their spending cuts.  But, this close to an election, the moment for that approach looks to have passed.  Asked by Montague whether the Tories would say more on the public finances "in the next few weeks," Cameron replied that he thinks the Tories have "said enough" about what they would do in 2010.  So it looks are though we've had all the "fine print" we're going to get – until that potential Emergency Budget, that is.