2. FOUR STAGES OF CUTS Cameron laid out the process: 1. Admit cuts need to be made. 2. Identify a few (ID cards, ‘regional nonsense’, government advertising, consultancy etc). 3. Go further: ‘tax credits being paid to people with relatively high salaries’ and 4. “Yes I accept we have more to do, more to say, but that’s compared to the government who haven’t even reached stage one.” Cameron did this in the reverse order, though. ID cards are not going to come up with the £26bn cuts (minimum) that he’ll need. So to rephrase his answer: “We admit to cuts, okay, and Labour don’t. But cuts where? Not health. Not DFID. But that’s all we’ll say.”
3. NO TORY SPENDING REVIEW BEFORE ELECTION EITHER “I don’t believe in a full-on shadow budget.” A reference, I suspect, not to John Smith but to Letwin’s disastrous Medium Term Financial Strategy of February 2004 where he laid out spending plans that promised to outspend Labour. Brown’s decision to cancel the Spending Review has of course let Cameron off the hook – he will now face zero pressure to lay out his own spending plans.
4. DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE “I don’t care what the government does anymore. They can announce cuts, they can announce increases, they can set the whole thing to music and do a karaoke. I have completely lost faith, as has most of the country, in anything this government says. You can see it every week in PMQs when the Prime Minister stands up and says ‘black is white’.” This may sound unremarkable, but consider Tory psychology. Fear of what Gordon Brown might say has stymied Tory intellectual development for at least a decade. Even now, some Tory policymakers will steer clear of policies that are needed saying ‘If we say x, Brown will say y’. They can bring this up in conversation, and you want to scream at them, ‘for the love of God, can’t you see he’s utterly discredited? Cameron is here explicitly declaring his party’s independence from fear of Brown’s mendacious attack lines – and rightly so. I hope this message goes right down the Tory machine.
5. PANTS ON FIRE Q: “Are you calling the PM today a liar?” A: “I didn’t quite put it like that… I try to use my words.” Again, as Matthew Parris argued on Saturday, ‘lie’ is not a word polite people use. And it should never be used in error – that’s why we refer to ‘Brownies’ here on CoffeeHouse. But Brown’s line on spending is a lie. We have decided to call it by its name – but it is a vulgar word, that people shy away from as it can make the accuser sound hysterical. He said later: “There have been too many examples where the PM’s approach has been to say something he knows is not true, but he thinks he will get away with”.
6. MOVING IN WITH OSBORNE Q: Do you recognise reports that you plan to