Tories Accidentally Send Conference Call Details to Labour and LibDems

Yesterday afternoon a Google Calendar invite pinged into Tory inboxes from CCHQ’s Stephen Gilbert, outlining details of their election campaign conference calls so staff can dial in and be briefed on the plan for the day. One problem. The email arrived in the inboxes of Gilbert’s old referendum contacts book, rather than his Tory HQ contacts book. Which means the private dial in details were received by top LibDems James McGrory, James Holt, Harriet Shone, Sam Barratt and Ryan Coetzee, and Labour’s Joe Carberry, Will Straw, David Chaplin, Brian Duggan and Amy Richards. Ooooops…

From: Stephen Gilbert
Sent: 21 April 2017 14:33
To: Ameet Gill; James McGrory; Ameetpal Gill; Brian Duggan; James Holt; Craig Oliver; Harriet Shone; Craig Oliver; Stuart Hand; Olivia Jensen; Charlotte Todman; Lucy Thomas; Guillaume Amigues; Iain Gill; Joe Carberry; Charlotte Vere; Will Straw; Kamala Mackinnon; Amy Richards; Tom Edmonds; David Chaplin; Sam Barratt; Ryan Coetzee
When: Occurs every day effective 20/04/2017 from 06:00 to 06:45

Morning Campaign meeting

Hi All, please note that the daily Morning Campaign meetings will now take place at 09.30 am every weekday…

HQ conference line

Dial-in: 020 XXXX XXXX

Participant pin: XXXXXX

The calendar invite was then cancelled. Loose lips (and email cock-ups) sink ships…

UPDATE: A Tory source gets in touch to clarify that the pin revealed in the email was an old Stronger In pin, so the CCHQ conference calls were not compromised.

CCHQ Caught on Hop: Not Enough Candidates to Fill Seats

The Tories were quick out of the blocks with their rules for candidate selections yesterday, though CCHQ has been caught on the hop in terms of the actual candidates. The word is the Tories still do not currently have enough names on their candidates list to fill every opposition-held seat. The shortfall came after the list was culled last summer, and the CCHQ candidates department has been painfully slow at processing new applications. As Guido revealed in February CCHQ did begin the search for candidates in Labour strongholds. Yet there remains a deficit between candidates and seats…

Guido has spoken to Tories who applied to join the candidates list last autumn and still haven’t been interviewed. As one Tory insider says of the CCHQ head of candidates: “Gareth Fox has been sleeping for six months”. This means the Tories will likely have to hold emergency PABs (Parliamentary Assessment Board meetings) to appoint new people to the list over the next week. You might end up with a no hoper seat, though this news will excite a lot of ambitious wannabes…

Will Tories Drop MOAB on Corbyn?

It has long been assumed that the Tories have a ton of dirt of Jeremy Corbyn that they were holding back for the election. That somewhere in the archives at the bottom of a filing cabinet in CCHQ sits a dossier of new revelations about Corbyn’s links to various terrorists, extremists and all round wrong ‘uns. There has even been talk that the Tories would drop a “MOAB” – Mother of All Bombs – on Corbyn with weeks to go. Guido understands the MOAB isn’t quite as big as has been hyped, and that the Tories believe most of Corbyn’s IRA / Hamas links have already been factored in. There are however two or three front page newspaper stories ready to go over the next 50 days. Not so much a MOAB to wipe Jez out, more a couple of well-timed mortars to cause damage tactically during the campaign…

Tory MPs Meeting to Discuss Yellow Peril

Tory MPs in LibDem marginals are meeting with officials from CCHQ today to discuss the yellow peril. The feeling among backbenchers is that, as things stand, the LibDems would likely unseat a handful of Tory MPs in the event of an election. Those particularly under threat are obviously Tory MPs who won their seats off LibDems in the West Country and now have small majorities, and vocal Leave MPs in heavily Remain areas who could succumb to the Zac Goldsmith / Sarah Olney effect.

Dear Colleague,

As part of our series of briefings on campaigning in seats previously held by the Liberal Democrats, I have arranged for CCHQ to provide some materials that may be of use. A CCHQ representative will be present for our discussion and I hope you can join us.

The session will now take place on Tuesday 28th March in XXX from 1300-1400.

Best wishes,

Anne Milton
Deputy Chief Whip

If Sarah Olney can make it to parliament…

UPDATE: A LibDem source responds:

“They saw what we did to Zac Goldsmith. The Tories know the only seats at risk are ones that are being targeted by the Liberal Democrats.”

Theresa Deploys Philip May

In the month running up to the Copeland by-election, veterans at Tory HQ were surprised by the almost daily presence of one unusual visitor. Philip May, the PM’s husband, turned up to phone bank for Trudy Harrison nearly every day between 6pm and 8pm. “He was there at least 90% of the days for the last few weeks,” says a source, noting that by contrast Samantha Cameron would attend phone banks once or twice per by-election, usually just as a photo opportunity. A sign of how the Tories threw the kitchen sink at Copeland? Possibly, though there is more to it than that…

Theresa May’s inner circle comprises of just four people: the PM, her chiefs of staff Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy, and her husband. She trusts few outside that group. So, Tory insiders say, Theresa has deployed Philip as her political secret weapon: her personal focus group, amateur pollster and party mole. Those in the room estimate Philip spoke on the phone to more than a thousand Copeland voters and believe the PM used him to gauge opinion, rather than rely on the professional pollsters who let down her predecessor. “He was her personal focus group for voters because she trusts no one else,” says a Tory source. He phone banked assiduously in the Sleaford by-election as well.

There was of course another benefit to having Philip in CCHQ – he could report back on which Cabinet ministers and MPs were pulling their weight. Tories say the proof that Philip is being used as a serious political operative is the fact that his phone banking exploits have not been briefed out to the media, as was the norm with SamCam. An insight into how few people the PM keeps close, and how important those few are…

Tories Start Candidate Selection Process Early

The Tories have started the first stage of their candidate selection process early, Guido can reveal. CCHQ has told its parliamentary candidates list that the Team Seats programme in 44 seats will be beginning “early”. Team Seats, formerly known as City Seats, is the preliminary stage of the selection process in urban constituencies and Labour strongholds. It allows potential candidates to put their names forward and establish themselves locally before the formal selection process takes place. Candidates have been set a deadline of February 20 to apply – Tories on the list tell Guido the programme is usually launched much closer to a general election. Those who received the email yesterday were surprised to say the least – it has set a cat among the pigeons.

The email from CCHQ Head of Candidates Gareth Fox acknowledged that the party had brought forward the process:

We recognise that the early appointment of teams are essential to build trust with the Associations and for the candidates to establish themselves locally.”

Formal selection will take place “later in the parliament”. The 44 seats are in Doncaster, Rotherham, Durham, Manchester, Merseyside, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, North Tyne and South Tyne. These safe Labour seats are usually selected close to an election. A fascinating move that will help prepare the Tories either for a snap election or for an unprecedented assault on Labour seats in 2020…

Tory Candidate Seeking Injunction Over MEP Dispute

story

Guido understands Tory candidate Alex Story is currently in the High Court seeking an interim injunction against the Yorks and Humber nominating officer to prevent him from installing anyone else as Yorkshire’s MEP. Story was due to take up the vacant role as Yorkshire’s next MEP, only to have his career “ended”, he says, by a “CCHQ cock-up”. Background here. Leeds council are arguing against the injunction being granted – the Tories instead put up local councillor John Proctor for the role. More to follow as we get it…

Referendum Day CCHQ Leak

cchq

Tory HQ has flooded:

From: Conservative Campaign Headquarters
To:
Subject: Access to Lower Ground Floor

There is no access to the lower ground floor at Matthew Parker Street due to flooding. Seating arrangements will be made on the Upper floor.

Down the road the Spectator’s offices have been submerged too. The Guy Newsroom remains dry, for now…

CCHQ Freeze MPs and Associations Out of Vote Source

vote-source

Tory MPs and local associations are seething after CCHQ blocked them from using the party’s Vote Source campaign software during the referendum. Vote Source is the Tories’ purpose-built database which allows them to target individual voters, a crucial campaign tool for any election or referendum:

VoteSource and the EU Referendum

Please read carefully:

In accordance with the decision of the Party Board – Access to the Campaign Section of VoteSource will be suspended during the EU Referendum Campaign.

Access to Campaigning will only be granted for Local By-Election activity.

Please contact your member of Field Staff to arrange this access.

This means the 142 Leave MPs and overwhelmingly Brexit-backing associations cannot run selections or export voter mailing and email data. Being frozen out of their own campaigning data has not surprisingly gone down like a cup of cold sick among Eurosceptic Tories, who are the hardest hit by the party board’s decision. The party is trying every trick to nobble Outers…

UPDATE: Mark Wallace at ConHome reports that the Remain campaign appears to have had access to voter data.

CCHQ’s Battle Bus Guidance Revealed

battlebus

Where do the Tories stand on the election fraud scandal? They are bang to rights on failing to declare £38,000 of hotel bills for Tory activists, blaming an “administrative error”. The issue of transport – the fabled “battle buses” – is contested. There are three outcomes here. Are CCHQ right when they say they’ve done nothing wrong? Did they breach the rules on national and local spending? Or was there a conspiracy to hide spending from the official declarations?

Leaked emails reveal CCHQ told their local campaign teams that the cost of hotels and battle buses would be “accounted for out of central campaign spend”. It stressed transport within the seat was not included: “For legal reasons the Battlebus cannot ferry people around the seat”.

The arrangement had the “personal sponsorship” of Grant Shapps, was “signed off” by Lynton Crosby, Stephen Gilbert and Lord Feldman, and was “supported by Deborah Feldman’s Team in CCHQ“. That’s Lord Feldman’s sister.

The good news for the Tories is this shows they did see battle buses as part of the national campaign all along, and demonstrates they were taking steps to abide by spending laws. So they can argue there wasn’t a conspiracy to hide the cash. The bad news? If the cops find it should have gone down as local spend, the party chairman and his sister are implicated…

CPS Says Up to Cops to Pursue Tories

battlebus

The Tory expenses affair takes another turn, the CPS says:

“Following a constructive meeting with the police and Electoral Commission, it has been agreed that each relevant police force will consider what action to take. This may Include making an application to the court under s.176 of the Representations of the People Act 1983 to extend the time allowed to bring a prosecution.”

Looks like the curse of Mark Clarke has hit a wall despite his best efforts in briefing Michael Crick… 

CCHQ Breaks Neutrality Promise

cchq-email

click to enlarge

The battle commences, the promise that CCHQ would be neutral is broken. On day one.

Harry Cole on Shapps Resignation

Feldman next?

Bully-Linked Baroness Inducted Into Lords Tomorrow

The father of Elliott Johnson, the young Tory activist who took his own life amid bullying allegations, has given an interview to LBC. Ray Johnson says CCHQ mishandled complaints against election guru Mark Clarke and again insisted Lord Feldman hand the evidence to the police:

[gigya src=”https://d15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net/cdn/embed_player.swf” style=”background-color:transparent; display:block; max-width: 700px;” flashvars=”image_option=small&imgURL=https%3A%2F%2Fd15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net%2Fi%2F17628880%2F300x300%2Fc&link_color=%2358d1eb&mp3Author=LBC+Best+Bits&mp3Duration=460047.0&mp3LinkURL=https%3A%2F%2Faudioboom.com%2Fboos%2F3758994-dead-tory-activist-s-father-speaks-out-against-bullying-allegations&mp3Time=12.05pm+31+Oct+2015&mp3Title=Dead+Tory+Activist%E2%80%99s+Father+Speaks+Out+Against+Bullying+Allegations+&mp3URL=https%3A%2F%2Faudioboom.com%2Fboos%2F3758994-dead-tory-activist-s-father-speaks-out-against-bullying-allegations.mp3%3Fsource%3Dwordpress&player_theme=light&rootID=boo_player_1&show_title=true&waveimgURL=https%3A%2F%2Fd15mj6e6qmt1na.cloudfront.net%2Fi%2Fw%2F3702009″ width=”100%” height=”150″ allowFullScreen=”true” wmode=”transparent”]

Tomorrow sees the induction into the House of Lords of Emma Pidding, who was chair of the Clarke’s ‘Road Trip’ campaign. Pidding has been accused by Ray Johnson of being involved in helping Clarke. Johnson says: “I believe that Clarke had powerful backers. I don’t know for certain who Clarke’s backers are, but the name of Emma Pidding keeps cropping up”. As recently as July, Pidding arranged for her close ally Clarke to be publicly ‘feted‘ by David Cameron at the Conservative National Convention. There are rumours that it was she that leaked the names of complainants to CCHQ about Mark Clarke – allowing him to apply intense pressure on them. Social media photos – like the one above – of Clarke and Pidding together were deleted by the Baroness-to-be after the scandal broke…

Father of Bullied Suicide Tory Demands Lord Feldman Hands CCHQ’s Evidence to Police

elliott-johnson-feldman

Ray Johnson, Elliott Johnson’s father has written to the Conservative Party chairman Lord Feldman demanding he hands over all the internal inquiry’s evidence to the police and abandons the party’s own investigation.

The letter alleges that

  • Edward Legard, the lawyer running CCHQ’s internal investogation is an “Old Etonian contemporary of the Prime Minister who can in no way be recognised as independent”.
  • CCHQ is complicit in a “cover-up”
  • That the party failed in its clear “duty of care” to young people  

Ray Johnson’s key argument is

“The party’s belated attempt at an internal inquiry is too little, too late. The correct process would be to now hand the investigation and all evidence over to the proper authorities, the Metropolitan Police, for a full criminal inquiry.”

CCHQ insiders and young Tory activists believe that a police investigation is inevitable – particularly given that the names of the original complainants against Mark Clarke were leaked to Mark Clarke from within CCHQ – leading to him exerting intense pressure on the very people who had accused him of wrongdoing. Ray Johnson accuses Emma Pidding – now Baroness Pidding – of being complicit with Clarke. With tragic consequences…

Hat-Tip: Blue Guerilla

Three Tory Activists Banned From Conference Amid Suicide Bullying Claims

Three prominent Conservative activists have had their conference accreditations rescinded following the death of 21 year-old Tory member Elliott Johnson. Johnson reportedly took his own life after making allegations against another Tory member. Guido understands that two of the banned activists are former candidate Mark Clarke, who ran the party youth-wing’s Road Trip election campaign, and Sam Armstrong, a member of the Tory youth group Conservative Future. Guido has been unable to confirm the identity of the third person at this moment.

A Tory spokesman said:

“Everyone in the Conservative Party is deeply saddened at the death of Elliott Johnson. The circumstances surrounding his death are in the hands of the Coroner and it is not appropriate to comment on those at this time.

The Party’s own, separate, disciplinary inquiry is in relation to complaints received from Mr Johnson and others against a member of the Party.

This initial disciplinary inquiry was launched as soon as a complaint was received in August 2015. An individual has had their membership suspended, pending the outcome of a full disciplinary panel.

Three individuals have had their Conference accreditation rescinded.”

The contents of a note left by Elliott Johnson are the subject of intense speculation…

Confirmed: Philippa Roe Running For Mayor

On Wednesday Guido exclusively revealed that Philippa Roe would be a last minute addition to the Tory mayoral race. Today she confirms she is running:

“I am a Londoner through and through. I was born and brought up here, have spent my entire working and political career here and am now raising my family in what I consider to be the world’s greatest city. I am passionate about what London and Londoners can achieve… I believe I am now ready to make the next step up and deliver successfully for all Londoners.”

Her campaign team would not be drawn on when exactly Roe put in her application. Or speculation that she only entered after CCHQ realised there was no female candidate. Instead optimistic supporters point to the fact that she runs a £1 billion operation at Westminster council and say her campaign will be based on showing her “proven track record in London”.

You heard it here first…

CCHQ Bend Rules to Avoid All-Male Mayoral Shortlist

Guido understands there is likely to be a last minute addition to the Tory mayoral race: gaffe prone Westminster council leader Philippa Roe has had her arm twisted to put in an application. Multiple sources say she has been canvassing for support.

The deadline for candidates to apply was Monday, sources say “CCHQ panicked that they didn’t have a woman on the ticket” and Roe has been convinced to throw her hat in even after the deadline had supposedly closed “at the request of CCHQ”. CCHQ are being suspiciously tight-lipped.

Readers will remember her PR blunder of publicly accusing immigrants of “defecating on people’s doorsteps”. Sounds like it’s hit the fan today…

At the time of going to pixel Philippa has not responded to Guido’s request for comment…

Amy Fisher New Head of Press at CCHQ

amy fisher showcase_3bea2c4e6574bbb6d162a9de46bdb148
Chris Grayling’s SpAD Amy Fisher replaces Giles Kenningham as Head of Press at CCHQ.

Long time press office stalwart – and tax justice campaigner – Richard Jackson will be her deputy.

Fisher used to be at Policy Exchange before spinning for Caroline Spelman (remember her?) at DEFRA.

She escapes the Grayling graveyard of Office of Leader of the House.

PFL?

SPOTTED: Grant Shapps Leaving Back of Cabinet Office

Why the delay in the announcement of party chairman?[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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