I watched David Cameron being interviewed by Andrew Marr in his sitting room this morning. The BBC's technicians managed to deliver such a high level of incompetency that the interview was interrupted three times. Despite this display of rank amateurishness, I thought David came across as confident, relaxed and sure footed. The part of the interview that most interested me was Andrew Marr's trundling out the inevitable Labour line about 'Tory cuts'. You know the sort of thing. "Mr Cameron, you say that you would cut Government spending plans from April. Where would the money come from?"
How many times have I heard this? And it never makes sense, except at the most superficial level. When I was an Assembly Member, we used to hear it every year when we debated the Government's spending plans. Because the Assembly budget is fixed (as a formula-based proportion of what the Treasury spends on devolved matters in England) any proposal to increase one budget line is met by a demand to know where the equivalent 'cut' is going to be. It will be just the same if the Conservative Councillors on Powys County Council demand any increase in Council Tax should be limited to the inflation level of say 2%. What invariably happens in reality is that a few weeks after the plans are approved, much bigger spending increases are found for some unforeseen expenditure with no problem at all - from some other source. Like when all that interest was lost on investments in Icelandic banks - immediate assurances that it would have no effect on services! All the Conservative leader has been saying (and repeated this morning) is that Government spending under the Conservatives would rise in 2009/10 from £600million to £625million, rather than the £630 million it will rise under Labour - but Andrew Marr dutifully described this several times as a 'cut' in spending. And anyway, David Cameron told him we'd cut ID Cards amongst other things.
Despite the glitches, I thought David Cameron looked the business this morning. It helps that I'm so welcoming of the developing Conservative approach to the economy - based on lower tax, lower pubic spending and a shift from an economy built on debt to an economy built on saving. The blood of a Welsh hill sheep farmer runs through my veins, and this sort of language helps it run a lot more comfortably.