David Cameron said his mistake with austerity was not doing it harder and faster in an interview with ITV.
The former Prime Minister said the Tories should have done more while they had the chance, saying the public had given them a “window of permission” after the 2010 election in which they could deliver savage cuts to public services.
He defended taking the “difficult decisions” on the programme of austerity, saying:
“There is a case for saying that some of the changes we had to make in year two, in year three, in year four—it might have been better if we did a little bit more a bit earlier.
“When you have that sort of window of permission from the public, I felt after the 2010 election, you know, we’d fought an election, rather untraditionally, saying; ‘If you elect us, we’re going to make cuts and people will look back at this period and there’ll be great big arguments about it.”
Cuts to public services
Mr Cameron and his chancellor George Osborne presided over a brutal programme of cuts to public services.
The “ideological” programme was described as “unnecessarily harsh” by the UN’s Special Rapporteur to the UK during a damming report into extreme poverty and human rights.
Philip Alston said the UK Government’s policies entrenched high levels of poverty and inflicted unnecessary misery in one of the richest countries in the world.
“The strategy did work”
But the ex-PM defended his decisions, saying “the strategy did work.”
He said: “Well these were difficult decisions. Inequality fell; the number of people in poverty went down.
“I do think we tried to this in a way that was fair and reasonable.
“We took Britain from being in a total mess to being in a situation where we were the fastest growing country in the G7.”
Not necessarily the right decisions
He added: “Some of the decisions we made, I think, weren’t necessarily the right ones
“They were painful for many people and particularly for some public services…but overall, the strategy did work.”