Iain Dale denies Cameron made a gaffe

Fascinating to see how “Cameron targets North East and Northern Ireland for spending cuts” is building as a political first for Northern Ireland featuring as a story in the main UK election.

I doubt if this is what they meant by a peace dividend. The Guardian joins the reporting of Cameron’s Paxman interview as ” Cameron cuts” story. But Conservative blogger Iain Dale puts up a different interpretation and attacks Newsnight’s Michael Crick’s take on it ( and mine).

The point Cameron was eloquently making was that it was the role of government to create the conditions whereby the private sector is encouraged to grow. And that needs to be done in regions like the North East….Crick interpreted it as Cameron wanting to take an axe to public spending in the North East. It’s clear why he’s not Newsnight’s Economics Correspondent. If you increase the size of the private sector, the proportionate size of the public sector is thereby reduced. It does not imply massive cuts. Having said that, Northern Ireland and the North East will have to share the burden of reductions in public spending along with the rest of the country. But they knew that anyway..

Nice try Iain, but it won’t wash.  You don’t casually drop it into the conversation that the  public sector is to big in answer to a question about the size of your spending cuts, without the natural inference being drawn. And if Cameron didn’t mean it to come out like that , then it was a gaffe, at a point in the interview when he was clearly under pressure.  It’s  quite a shock to realise that cuts are coming in earnest, whoever is in power – even if Cameron’s timing and lack of preparing the ground  harms his political cause.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London