Tories Admit New Voter Software is Busted

A leaked email has revealed the Tory field data operation is in dire straights just 98 days from polling day. With half of their associations dumping the dire Merlin voter data software for a new voter contact system, CCHQ have now been forced to admit that the upgrade is busted too. In the busiest donation period of the entire election cycle, party bosses have admitted that all donations of over £500 have to be declared manually to CCHQ with a spreadsheet rather than simply entered in the software – as promised. Which defeats the point of the expensive change over…

To: ALL CONSTITUENCY OFFICES, CHAIRMAN, DEPUTY CHAIRMAN MEMBERSHIP AND FINANCE
Cc: FIELD STAFF

As you know, the Party is replacing the MERLIN software with a new membership and campaigning system called VoteSource. Over 350 associations have already decided to move to VoteSource, and their MERLIN has not been updated with the new registers of electors that were published on 1 December in England and Wales*. For these users VoteSource must now be used for all election campaigning. Donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on VoteSource, but see below for how to report.

A number of associations have decided to remain on MERLIN. For these seats, donors giving over £500 to the Association, or over £50 directly to a candidate, must be checked on MERLIN, but only after you have explicitly been told by the Helpdesk that your MERLIN is being rolled over to the new register. If in doubt about your MERLIN’s status, please email XXXXXX@conservatives.com, or to check donors email their name and address to XXXXXX@conservatives.com

Donation reporting functionality will be added to VoteSource soon. Until then, donations over £500 must be recorded on the attached spreadsheet. We will, as usual, send a spreadsheet at the end of the quarter** showing any donations that reach us through MERLIN, but otherwise this sheet should be your main reporting form. For the password, please call us on 020 7x XXX XXX

Remember that donations for January to March will need to be reported by 10 April, ie in the middle of the peak of campaigning, and so we strongly recommend that you update this sheet as and when you receive donations in order to avoid extra stress in April. Donations that are being made directly to a candidate or the election agent account are subject to the £50 threshold for checks, and are listed on the return of election expenses INSTEAD of reporting to us.

The Helpdesk will announce when donation functionality is available in VoteSource, but until then if you have any donation or reporting queries please do not hesitate to contact us: XXXXXXX@conservatives.com, 020 7XXX XXXX

* In Scotland, registers are not due to be updated until 10 March.

** Donations checked between 1 January and 30 March will be emailed to the association office on 11 April.

There are a lot of rather irate agents out there, facing a load more hassle.

GUY NEWS SPECIAL: Free Amjad Bashir Protest Outside CCHQ

Amjad Bashir has not been seen since he was kidnapped by the Tory party. Amjad’s captors have released a hostage photo of him alongside their leader, but they are not allowing him any contact with the outside world. Protesters outside the captors’ HQ have been threatened by Tory party security. Bring back our Bashir…

100 Days to Go and Tories STILL have 96 Candidates to Select

Research shows that with 100 days to go, the Tories are still short a whopping 97 candidates. Almost a sixth of all seats…

Even if you subtract Northern Ireland, there are still 79 candidate-less seats with just a couple of months to go.

Number crunching by Peter Botting and Anthony Gearing can be found here.

There are some surprisingly marginal seats still looking for Tory representation…

UPDATE: Hold the front page… Guido is informed it’s actually 95 seats. CCHQ’s very own top spinner Richard Holden was recently selected in Preston…

UPDATE II: 5 unwinnable Scottish seats have also selected. Panic over…

UPDATE III: CCHQ claim it is only 40 odd seats that have no candidate. They have yet to send over the numbers and they seem to be missing from their own Conservatives.com website…

Tories Deny Photoshopping Miliband to Make Him Look Fat

Tory sources deny any manipulation of Ed’s face to make him look fatter on their new poster.

We report, you decide…

UPDATE:

This is the source image, via Getty:

UPDATE II:

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The Tory chairman tells Iain Dale:

“This is clearly a mocked up poster and so clearly it’s a bit of Photoshop work.”

Tory Candidate Fury Mounting at “Slack” CCHQ

Given that four months out the Tories still have 81 candidates to select in England, plus all of Northern Ireland still to do, you might have thought it would be all hands t’mill over at the CCHQ candidates department. Apparently not.

According to the ‘out of office’ Gareth Fox – Head of Candidate Selection – it’s still holiday season:

“Thank you for your email, I am currently on leave until 12th January and I will respond when I return.”

Tory sources say everything is tickety boo and Fox is ‘around’ – a fact disputed by angry potential PPCs unable to get an answer to calls and emails. “This man is about as popular as herpes,” writes one co-conspiratorial candidate to Guido…

Exclusive: Tories Block Newmark Comeback

As Guido revealed in yesterday’s Sun on Sunday, the selection process in Braintree to replace disgraced dick pic king Brooks Newmark has been cancelled amid speculation he is planning the unlikeliest of comebacks. Brooks was spotted holding secret talks with his local association after concerns about the quality of the other candidates. Despite him promising post-parliament penance working for charity, he saw his chance. Tory sources confirm from Westminster that Brooks had been “wavering”, however, Guido understands any attempt by him to stand again has been blocked by high command: “It’s not going to happen”. Just as Guido was preparing to stand as the Pyjama Party candidate…

CCHQ Milking Issue of Farage’s Breastfeeding Comments

CCHQ were quick to stoke the breastfeeding story by making it look like Farage had boobed again:

milking the issue

Many a slip twixt, errr, D-cup and lip…

UPDATE:

Nigel Farage took to Twitter to rebut his misrepresentation

Is this another case of media bias or Nigel commenting where angels fear to tread? The aroma, if not the precise truth of the matter, will be once again “blokey UKIP are living in the past with old fashioned values”.

UPDATE II: Nadine Dorries makes a non-partisan point:

UPDATE III: One tweet perfectly conflates the two running UKIP stories; breastfeeding and Trumpton UKIP:

No. 10 Accidentally Reveal CCHQ Writing Gov Top Lines

View the original email

Not a great start for the new No. 10 Head of News Nicola Hudson. In her first week in the job she has just sent this morning’s government toplines for the day out to all of Whitehall’s taxpayer-funded spinners. However, she forgot to remove the Conservative Party’s email signature from whichever top Tory strategist crafted the lines before forwarding them. CCHQ writing government lines… whodathunk?

CCHQ Throwing Kitchen Sink at Reckless

reckless-kent

This is the online version of the main local paper covering Rochester and Strood, and it is running paid for American style anti-Reckless attack ad videos. Whether this is Jim Messina’s influence or just the inevitable next step in digital campaigning is unclear. It is a lot more entertaining than a leaflet through the letterbox…

It is also getting under the skin of Mark Reckless, who is protesting vociferously and unconvincingly on Twitter that he didn’t flop-flop on supporting a massive local housing development for 12,000 people – in doing so making the rookie mistake of repeating his opponent’s charge. It is cheering up Tories who have been on the back foot in this by-election campaign until now…

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Matthew?

probelm-matthew-parris

Even if they privately agree with him CCHQ strategists don’t appreciate the media interventions by Matthew Parris. Lynton Crosby has decreed that UKIP is to be downplayed and all but ignored insomuch as that is possible. The Clacton bullet is to be bitten and the pain taken without too much complaint or squealing. Hence the lack of Tory MPs in the studios stoking up the row or giving biting anti-Carswell soundbites to be lapped up by the media and inserted in stories of Tory splits and infighting. So in their place we have Matthew Parris, a former Tory MP and the arch voice of the Tory left, on the Daily Politics, Newsnight and in his columns he is stoking up the euro-row, amplifying it and providing soundbites, inventing motives and attributing malice to the eurosceptic wing of the Tories. Matthew’s latest column in The Times paints Clacton as full of people so infra dig that they should just be ignored by the Tories. The column is so patronising and sneering that it could be reprinted by UKIP and delivered as a recruiting leaflet to every former Tory voter in Clacton…

Tories Implementing iDemocracy in Clacton

clacton-con-ads

There is a certain irony in the Tories holding an internet driven open primary in Clacton to select their candidate and UKIP HQ imposing Douglas Carswell, the prophet of iDemocracy, as their candidate. Carswell will be pleased his ideas are being taken up…

Tories Tipped That Ruffley Row Was About to Go Very PublicConservative Staff Threatened With Sack if They Joined Protest

It has been briefed that it was a ‘pincer movement’ from the Chief Whip and the Party Chairman that sealed the deal for Ruffley yesterday. They were kicked into action, finally, by the leak of this letter from the Dean of Bury St Edmunds, and tens of thousands of people signing an online petition. Crucially the Tories were also made aware yesterday morning of a letter planned for Wednesday’s Times from dozens of women affiliated with the Conservative Party. “Women problem” is an understatement.

Guido has obtained a copy:

We are writing to share our concerns about the behaviour of David Ruffley MP.

We consider it unacceptable that a man who has accepted a caution for assaulting his partner should continue in his position.

This Conservative-led government has a proud record of acting to prevent domestic violence.  On 2 July 2014 the Prime Minister asserted the importance of  Clare’s Law in relation to abusive partners, and on 8 March 2014 the Home Secretary said: “I am determined to see a society where violence against women and girls is not tolerated, where people speak out.” It is disappointing, therefore, that despite the Government’s strong moral stance on this issue, our own party has been slow to take any action against one of their own Members, who has accepted a police caution for assault of his partner, one of the crimes we are trying to prevent.

When Andrew Pelling MP was arrested under suspicion of assaulting his wife in 2007, the whip was immediately withdrawn, pending an investigation by the party’s ethics committee. We are pleased that the new Chief Whip, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP decided last week to launch an investigation into this matter, however, given the serious nature of the offence for which Mr Ruffley has accepted a caution, which is an admission of guilt, we feel that the Conservative whip should be immediately withdrawn.

The public has the right to be served by representatives who abide by the legislation that they pass through Parliament.

We are proud to be members of the party who first gave women the vote, produced the first female Member of Parliament to take her seat in the House of Commons, as well electing the first female party Leader who went on to be the first female Prime Minister. For generations, the Conservative Party has lead the way in advancing equality of opportunity and equality under the rule of law.  Two people die every week at the hands of an abusive partner, and our party must demonstrate that no matter who you are, domestic violence is unacceptable

It was about to blow up, and blow up very publicly.

To those MPs who emotionally blackmailed and even threatened their female staff with disciplinary measures to stop them signing the above letter – and then grassed the plot to CCHQ – Guido says this. I know who you are, and you know what you have done. What I have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that make me a nightmare for people like you…

Tories Map Ed’s Inadequacy in Labour Quotes Interactive One Nation of Labour Criticism

This morning as Labour continue their summer assault the Tories are reminding everyone of the Labour Party’s own doubts about Ed Miliband with a new website, JustNotUpToIt.com:

justnotuptoit

The interactive map is populated with pins, click on a pin and a local Labour critique of Ed pops up. The map is, to coin a phrase, Ed’s One Nation Labour in their own despairing words. Have a browse here

South Ribble Tories Select Seema Kennedy

seema-kennedy

CCHQ will be pleased that the South Ribble Tories have selected, on the first ballot, Seema Kennedy to replace Lorraine Fullbrook. With a 5,554 vote majority to hold it is a battleground seat – Fullbrook put in a big campaign to win the seat from Labour in 2010, reputedly the most expensive in the country. Seema – a Conservative councillor for Marshalswick South ward in St Albans – is of Persian-Irish parentage, her family fled Iran after the revolution. A Cambridge graduate she made her money as a property lawyer. From the modernising wing of the Tories…

Confusion as Tories Delay Farage Target Seat Selection

Mystery and misinformation surrounds the selection of a Tory candidate for the Kentish seaside seat of South Thanet. Laura Sandys, one of the many female MPs standing down after just one term, announced her intention to quit last year. She did it early on in order to give her successor a chance to properly ‘bed in’ as a candidate. CCHQ however waited until late last month to open up the selection process. Last week that selection was abruptly halted, and those that had applied were told this was due to circumstances beyond the control of the association:

“Please note that due to circumstances beyond our control, there has been a delay in the Selection process.”

Interviews and tests planned for the weekend were suspended.

When Guido put this to CCHQ on Friday afternoon, the story was flatly denied by a press officer who claims to have checked with the candidates department and was confident that the selection process was continuing normally. A miss-speak, at best.

When this morning Guido suggested that they might like to “revise” their thoughts on the issue, in light of the email, a Conservative spokesman said:

“This is a matter for the local association.”

Yet the local association say it is due to circumstances beyond their control. What could it be about the prospect of Nigel Farage standing in the seat that so spooks the Tories?

Flapping Tories Threaten Candidates in Last Ditch Newark Bid

shapps

In further proof that the Tories are in a bit of a flap about Newark, the party chairman has just threatened the six hundred wannabe Tory MPs that they will be booted off the approved candidates list if they do not campaign ahead of Thursday’s poll. In an email seen by Guido, Shapps warns:

“As you know, a condition for being on the candidates list is the requirement to campaign in by-elections. Having spent 10 years on the list myself, I know that this expectation is no different from that which will be expected from you as an MP. Candidates who do not assist at by-elections without good reason may put themselves at risk of being removed from the list of approved candidates. … As a possible Parliamentary candidate, the Party is looking to you to show leadership and to support it in this critical by-election.”

They will not be able to throw this much effort at every seat UKIP are targeting this time next year…

ConservativeHome Readers Increasingly Favour UKIP Pact

ch-ukip-pact

ConservativeHome’s post Euro elections reader survey shows that the reality of the national vote result was not lost on the site’s readership. Support* for a blue-purple pact has risen…

*Usual caveats about self-selecting samples.

Why Has Owen Paterson Really Been Off Work?

Every morning CCHQ sends its MPs and staff a media monitoring summary of the day’s main news events. There were more than a few raised eyebrows when this morning’s briefing landed in Tory inboxes:

Must have missed that one…

Private CCHQ Briefing Warns MPs How to Stay Out of Trouble

Tory MPs and their staff attended a meeting this afternoon where they were warned about dodgy donations while making their latest declarations. Click through the slides* below to see who they are scared will expose their financial misdeeds:

You have been warned…

*We kept the other 43.

Picture Special: Inside New Tory Headquarters

CCHQ has moved into its new offices at Matthew Parker Street behind the QEII Conference Centre. Here is the scene inside, with Maggie and Churchill taking centre stage:

It’s much more of an open plan setting:

Still, not everything is going to plan… […] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Tory MP Nick Boles says what everyone thinks…

“There is a timidity and lack of ambition about Mrs May’s Government which means it constantly disappoints. Time to raise your game, Prime Minister.”

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