David Cameron says government must do better

David Cameron says he is "absolutely driven by wanting to help people"

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David Cameron has told the BBC he wants the government to "do better" after a "difficult month", but rejected accusations he is out of touch.

Ministers have been criticised over tax policy, their handling of a fuel strike threat and Abu Qatada's deportation.

One of Mr Cameron's own MPs, Nadine Dorries, has called him an "arrogant posh boy" with "no passion to want to understand the lives of others".

But the PM said he was "absolutely driven by wanting to help people".

On Monday, the Financial Times quoted an unnamed Conservative MP who said Mr Cameron was "putting the school run ahead of the national interest".

'Extraordinarily hard'

But in an interview with the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson, Mr Cameron brushed off suggestions he was too relaxed, or even lazy.

"I may look relaxed but I don't ever feel particularly relaxed in this job," he said.

He said he was "absolutely driven" but defended "date nights" with his wife and doing the school run.

Prime ministers who were "completely fried and exhausted", because they were not taking any time out, would make mistakes, he said: "It's got to be possible to be a decent husband, a good father and a good prime minister at the same time."

But he said he worked "extraordinarily hard", often starting at 5.45am at his kitchen table, and was "absolutely driven" by the government's mission - which he said was about rewarding people who worked hard, not just an "economic rescue mission".

Mr Cameron said welfare changes, tackling the deficit, providing better schools and cutting taxes in the Budget were all aimed at rewarding people "who do the right thing" and making the UK more entrepreneurial.

But he added that the government had to "learn lessons in terms of communication" over the fuel strike, adding: "I want us to raise our game and do better.

"I want us to do better. It's been a difficult month, governments have difficult months. But I think what really matters is keeping your eye... on the big picture."

Start Quote

When governments go through difficult patches you are looking for who can you blame”

End Quote Lord O'Donnell Former cabinet secretary

He added: "Sometimes we have got the action right but the message hasn't been right."

Labour MP Chris Bryant told the BBC: "He said he was relaxed about being relaxed... but the real problem is that if you are too relaxed as a prime minister and you don't sort the details out, sometimes you end up being caught out lying."

Former cabinet secretary Lord O'Donnell warned ministers against trying to blame civil servants for the government's current difficulties.

"Civil servants advise, ministers decide. That is the core of our accountability," he told BBC Radio 4's PM programme.

"When governments go through difficult patches you are looking for who can you blame. The issue comes up of, 'Well, let's try blaming the Civil Service.' It doesn't usually work and I don't think it will work this time either."

'Tough time'

Earlier, Ms Dorries, who has clashed with Mr Cameron before during PM's questions, launched a scathing attack against him.

She told the BBC's Daily Politics his and Chancellor George Osborne's "real crime" was to show "no remorse" about their lack of insight beyond Westminster.

Mr Cameron said he did not "accept" her criticism, although he acknowledged the government was "having to do difficult things".

"People in this country, they are struggling to meet their bills, they are having a tough time. I understand that," he said.

"I am absolutely driven by wanting to help people who are trying to keep it together and do the right thing."

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