Below is the transcript of Andrew Marr’s conversation with Prime Minister David Cameron, on the subject of Lynton Crosby, the Conservative Party’s “campaign consultant” and his input or influence on the question of cigarette packaging.
I do so without comment (it would be superfluous) – apart from reminding DC that a “question” is merely a request for information.
“So can I ask you again whether you have actually talked to him (Crosby) about this issue?”
“Well I think it is important this issue of lobbying because, well look, let me be clear he has not intervened in any way, on this or indeed on other issues and the decision, it’s very important people know this, we haven’t actually changed our policy, I mean, I think there are merits to plain paper packaging for cigarettes, we need more evidence, we need greater legal certainty, we’re not going ahead with it right now, but I certainly don’t rule it out for the future.
“So the whole thing actually, from start to finish has been something of a media invention. So, he hasn’t intervened, it would be wrong for him to intervene in any way, the decision was actually taken by me, sitting up there (points towards building in No. 10) at my kitchen table, let’s not move ahead with this now, we don’t have enough evidence, there’s too much legal uncertainty.”
“But let’s be clear, this government has been very tough on tobacco, you know we have said we’ve got to cut down on these vending machines, we’ve got to stop big shops doing big promotions, we’ve carried on with the smoking ban, we’ve put up the price of cigarettes, and if we’re too much in hock to the lobbyists as it were, why have we just published a lobbying Bill?”
“You have told me absolutely everything except the question that I was asking, which is have you talked to Lynton Crosby about this?”
“I have answered the question; he has not intervened in any single way.”
“You haven’t actually prime minister, but you won’t tell me whether you have talked to him about it?”
“I think as I’ve said, he hasn’t intervened in any single way, I think you’ll find that is an answer.”
“Yes, but its not quite an answer to the question I asked.”
“But its all you’re getting (laughs).”
“There we go.”