Secondly, the Sunday Telegraph carries some extracts from my Total Politics interview from David Cameron, which is published in full on Wednesday. In the interview, he makes clear that a Tory government will have to sacrifice some of its reform agenda and concentrate on getting the economy back on track.
DC: We will face an enormous economic challenge so our first task will be sorting out the finances and getting the economy back on track and restoring confidence. We won’t be able to do everything else that we have set out in vast detail, so we will have to be clear about the early priorities. Education will be absolutely right up there. That’s the thing I have a personal passion for, as well as a political one.
ID: Do you fear the economy is going to derail a lot of the things you want to do, because the situation is so serious?
DC: I think inevitably it is going to change what a government can achieve. We’ve got to be honest about that. We are going to be facing a situation where we are already borrowing eight per cent of our GDP. If the economic forecasts change at the budget it could be a lot more than that. It won’t be possible to do all the things we want to do. We will have to be rigorous in prioritising. And we will have to do tough and difficult things as well. We have to prepare people for that over the coming months. I’m really getting a sense that people understand that. Six or nine months ago people were saying: ‘Get rid of them, they’re hopeless’. Now, it’s much more ‘Gosh, this is going to be incredibly tough, you’ve got to do it, but it’s going to be tough’. There’s a mood change. The country senses the state of the economy.
ID: Mark Field wrote on ConservativeHome that there will be three stages to this recession: fear, anxiety, then anger.
DC: There is an anxiety, which is now turning into anger. Before Christmas, people were very anxious. They turned back to the government for a bit. The first thing you do when you are anxious is ask ‘what’s the government going to do to get us out of this mess?’ They got the benefit of the doubt. It’s changed since the New Year. I have a clear memory of going home and watching on the Ten O’Clock News the announcement of the second bank bailout. As a citizen, not as a politician, I just thought ‘God, this government has completely lost control of things’. They don’t know what they’re doing and they are behaving like headless chickens and the things they have done don’t seem to be working. I think what’s happened since the beginning of this year is that the Conservative Party has pulled itself together in a good way. The reshuffle was very important. I think there has been a mood change. At the same time, the government is not saving the world, they are trying to save their own skins and they don’t know how.
We're all going to faced with some very stark choices.