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11 April 2010

Inside Cameron’s “One Nation” interview

Cameron talks the talk, but does he walk the walk?

By James Macintyre

David Cameron has given an intriguing interview to the Sunday Telegraph today. The headline — about how he will pursue “One Nation” Toryism — is just the right message for him to be conveying, and not a moment too soon.

Read a little closer, though, and this is not quite a new, “modernising” message. On Thatcher, for example, he says:

Look, I think very important things happened in the 1980s. Very important things were done. And yes of course, some of them, for instance the arguments over deploying cruise missiles and facing down the Soviets, over trade union reform, some of those things were divisive.

Margaret Thatcher was on the right side of the argument. Should we try today in 2010, and into the future, in doing difficult things like cutting the deficit, should we try and take the whole country with us? Yes. Should we try and show we are genuinely all in this together? Yes.

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In fact, Cameron doesn’t appear to talk much of “One Nation” at all. This is unsurprising, given his policies on Europe and tax are very different from the approach of, say, Harold Macmillan, and given that Samantha Cameron apparently does not know what “One Nation” means.

One really interesting answer comes when Cameron is asked about Boris Johnson, his fellow Etonian rival who is seen by many as a future leader of the party. In a sign of Cameron’s awareness of this, he says:

My relationship with Boris is very good. I think it’s rather misunderstood. We’ve always got on well. I did, I think, quite a lot to help him in his election. He’s doing a lot to help me in my election. We have a shared outlook on many things. I want to see strong mayors right across the country and I think Boris has been a very good model for that. Our teams work closely together. And, yes, do I want big figures to go from being city mayors to running political parties in Britain, including my own, yes -absolutely.

Generous words. But a slight indication, perhaps, that the slick Tory leader knows he is under some pressure at last.