Waterloo showdown as PM says he will not talk election failure

Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo by Tracey Paddison
Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo by Tracey Paddison
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DAVID Cameron has compared himself to the Duke of Wellington as he prepares for the election battlefield.

The Prime Minister has insisted he is fighting for a Conservative majority even as the polls suggest another hung parliament is coming after May 7.

But despite saying he will not discuss the prospect of leading the largest party with no overall majority, Mr Cameron has hinted that he is privately thinking of what happens next.

Speaking in Downing Street, Mr Cameron said: “It is perfectly fair to spend the next 50 days fighting for a majority, it is a possible outcome, I only have to win 23 extra seats to get that majority.

“If I don’t get that majority I’ll answer on the next day about what I’ll do, but endless speculation on election outcomes rather than talking about the issue is not a great way to spend all our time.

“If I fall short I will consult my members of parliament and they will consult their local association, there will be a proper process so I get a very clear view from the people at the heart of the party.

“I don’t think though that there is point in speculating when there is a fight to be had.

“I don’t think the Duke of Wellington spent all his time before the battle of Waterloo answering questions about what he was going to do if he did not win. That is not the way to win the battle.”

Mr Cameron was speaking after the Chancellor delivered the final Budget before the election, with a promise that austerity will come to and end by 2020.

But despite this, Mr Cameron said local councils would continue to face spending reductions in the next few years.

The PM said: “I think local government has done brilliantly at being more efficient, and when you look at council finances they can continue to find efficiencies by continuing to work together and sharing services.

“Most councils have seen large increases in their reserves over the last four or five years, so they do have room to make efficiencies.

“And just like any business you don’t make these efficiencies and say that’s it, I’m finished.

“Businesses are always asking how do I become more efficient and that’s something councils could do.”

Mr Cameron welcomed news of greater devolution of transport powers, and gave an insight into the Whitehall battles needed to ensure Government policy reflects local wishes.

Last month ministers announced the unloved Pacer trains will be phased across the north when the new rail franchises are award, but the move only came after civil servants were issued with an official letter ordering them to carry out the policy against their wishes.

Mr Cameron said: “Amazingly we had to overrule the official machine, an instruction had to be given.

“It is extraordinary how government works these days.

“To get rid of trains that everyone agreed are completely out of date we had to issue a direct instruction.

“It says something about how the world works.”

Mr Cameron also addressed claims from Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman that the Tory party in the north had become a no go zone for female Tory MPs.

He said: “I want to see more women candidates, we have gone from seven women MPs to around 50 and a third of the women sitting round the cabinet table are women.

“Yes Anne McIntosh is standing down, but I’m confident we will win with a female candidate in Northumberland, or with Christine Mackay in east Hull, or elsewhere and I’m confident we will have even more female MPs on the Conservative side.”