Matt looking less than convinced by Shapps / Green lines such as 'y'know it was 15 years ago… in 1997… blown all out of proportion'.
— Eye Spy MP (@eyespymp) September 27, 2012
As the fallout from Clegg’s singing dominates Westminster, Vince Cable’s own positioning on the mea culpa has been forgotten. One line of CCHQ’s internal press summary for last night really sticks out. The internal blue verdict on Vince’s Newsnight appearance is stinging:
“Cable was serious [sic] roasted and further damaged the Lib Dems in an attempt to cover himself.”
No sympathy there it seems…
Have you ever landed a fancy new job and then got stuck wondering just how you are going to reshuffle the team below you? Well fear not, internet guru Grant Shapps has just the solution for you. Watch with amazement as the new Tory top dog announces his beefed up team:
- Sarah Newton MP
- Alok Sharma MP – BME Communities
- Richard Harrington MP – Campaign Finance
- Bob Neill MP – Local Government
- Michael Fabricant MP – Parliamentary Campaigning
- Nicola Blackwood MP – Social Action
- Geoffrey Clifton-Brown MP – International Affairs
- Alan Lewis – Business
- Andrew Stephenson MP – Youth
If Grant Shapps’ first press release is anything to go by, not much has changed in the Party Chairman’s office over at CCHQ. Tory spinners are keen to point out that he has been kicking some arse in his first few days. Unhappy with the thumb-twiddling Corby campaign that he has inherited, the new Chairman has been sending out overly optimistic memos to all approved candidates compelling them to come and meet him on the front-line this weekend. “He’s not giving them much of a choice, it’s a clear sign of a new regime at CCHQ.” Same old lines being pumped out though…
This morning on ConservativeHome Alistair Thompson reported that beleaguered Tory chairman Baroness Warsi was both “on holiday” and “destined for demotion“. A few hours later CCHQ went out of their way to deny one of those claims:
In the comments Thompson says CCHQ emailed ConHome to refute that Warsi was currently on a summer break, but gave no such rebuttal that she is facing the chop in the Autumn reshuffle. Telling…
Wannabe Tories on the party’s approved candidates list were left unimpressed last night when this hit their inboxes:
From: Chairman of Candidates
Date: 6 August 2012 17:58
Subject: Corby and East Northamptonshire
The Party now has a pending Parliamentary by-election in Corby and East Northamptonshire and we are asking every candidate on the Approved List to rise to the challenge. Our call centre in CCHQ Midlands, based in Coleshill will be open from 10.00am until 8.00pm on a Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, or you can make evening calls from CCHQ.
To take part please contact email@example.com with the dates you are available to help.
If there are reasons why you cannot give your support at this time, please let Gareth know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or Davina on email@example.com
Chairman of Candidates
Before asking people to sacrifice their time and effort in the name of a by-election, would it not have been more sensible to tell the hopefuls the process, if one exists, by which one of them could become the candidate? Or is this by-election selection, as widely speculated, going to be another back-room stitch up? The A-list parachuting operation went so well last time…
According to Joe Murphy of the Standard, Warsi has got away it over her expenses mystery:
Refresh your memory of the allegations and fall out here.
UPDATE: CCHQ confirm:
Presumably she was able to prove that she paid the cash to someone, given that her landlord at the time claimed he received no money.
Cameron has said that “I am pleased that these allegations have been dismissed by the Lords Commissioner.” He mentions that Warsi as Co-Chairman will be leading the Tory Police commisioner elections “big summer of campaigning”. Moved in the autumn then…
With Conor Burns quitting and Angie Bray being sacked for refusing to walk the line on Lords reform, eyebrows have been raised about other job-holding Tories who rebelled, but have somehow managed to stay in their party posts, nominally in the gift of the party leader.
Geoffrey Clifton-Brown is head of the International Office at CCHQ. His former deputy there was Mark Pritchard, who made a big fuss about resigning a while back specifically so that he could vote against the leadership. Precedent has been set…
Nicola Blackwood is a Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party with responsibility for Social Action. Not for long though surely?
Charlotte Leslie is Cameron’s Big Society Ambassador. A job that her local paper claims makes her a “lynch pin” in the project. How will it cope?
Will they face the high jump or will the Whips turn a blind eye?
UPDATE: It’s a no comment from CCHQ.
The latest briefing to Tory MPs gives an interesting clue as to Cameron’s next move re-Europe:
Date: 2 July 2012
To: MPs Lines To Take
Subject: Political Topline: 2 July 2012
Good afternoon. Please see below the political top line:
The Prime Minister is clear that an in-out referendum is not the answer right now. Instead we should first set out how we want to change our relationship with Europe and then as the end point becomes clear we should consult the British people, either in a general election or a referendum. He will set out more details of the Conservative Party’s position in the Autumn.
Faced with his choppiest conference yet as leader, it seems the PM is preparing some EU shaped hats and rabbits in time for Birmingham.
Dave might think that Jimmy Carr is morally repugnant but that has not stopped the Tories from advising their wealthy donors on how to avoid tax. The Conservative Foundation, an organisation run by an array of Tory grandees and city types, is offering donors the chance to dodge inheritance tax through a scheme in which they leave a “legacy” to the Tory party. The scheme promises to “reduce or even remove completely” the inheritance tax liability of rich Conservative backers, while its website explains how to take advantage of rules allowing tax-free donations to political parties. Although the scheme appears to have been set up on the quiet it is startlingly open about its intentions:
Cameron was always going to be a hostage to fortune over tax avoidance, now he faces the inevitable dilemma of having to deal with questions about his party’s wealthy financiers. He’s hardly making it easy for himself.
From: Lines To Take
Sent: 26 June 2012 12:26
To: Lines To Take
Subject: Political Topline: 26 June 2012
We know this is not the most important issue facing this country. We are focussed on dealing with the deficit, getting the economy growing and standing up for hard-working people.
There have been divisions on all sides regarding the details of reform so we’re only going to achieve reform if we work together and Parliament will debate these issues. But it is right that we should try to agree something that all three major parties committed to in their manifestos at the last election.
Hardly fighting talk…
Guido has been a regular critic of Baroness Warsi – it is fair to say we do not approve of her characterisation and handling of the Eurosceptic wing of her party – for example she blundered so badly during the succession to the retiring Roger Helmer MEP that his seat is now represented in the UKIP interest.
We’ve written before that it is pretty poor of her defenders to try to characterise criticism as crypto-racism. It was the Labour MP Karl Turner who called for Warsi to be referred over her expenses claims not just to the Lords Commissioner for Standards, he wrote to the police as well. It was Labour’s semi-official attack dog Michael Dugher who wrote to the Cabinet Secretary demanding a full investigation. Labour’s Deputy General Secretary Tom Watson raised questions about the propriety of her trip funded by the government of Pakistan. Turner, Dugher and Watson have many unpleasant failings, however racism is not among them.
Tory activists don’t rate Warsi’s skill at making her party’s case on the Today programme or on Newsnight, Tory commentators tend to agree. Here Guido thinks they mistake her blunt directness for a communications problem – she was pretty effective on the most watched edition of Question Time against Nick Griffin. She may not appeal to political wonks and pundits – she is not a product of the Oxbridge PPE clique that dominates Westminster – however because voters can identify with her Warsi reaches voters who it is impossible for the posh boys to reach. Warsi is a highly visible and valuable advocate, which is exactly why Cameron appointed her party chairman. Warsi should be deployed to reach non-traditional Tory voters, not to communicate to the political class that wakes up listening to Today and goes to bed watching Newsnight.
Labour and their media allies are trying hard to make capital out of her referral by Cameron and Hunt’s non-referral. This is supposedly evidence of Tory prejudice. Actually it just reflects the fact that Hunt denies wrongdoing and Warsi admits it, arguing that they are minor oversights.
There is a fascinating exchange of letters over at the Staggers between the Chairman of the Conservative Arab Network and Tory Chairman Sayeeda Warsi. They discuss Guido’s revelations about the group, and show how the exposé set off a chain of events that led to the troubles that Warsi is in right now:
This may be revenge, but that does not make it any less dangerous for Warsi…
It all began with another Tory using a dodgy business card. When Guido started digging into the Conservative Arab Network back in November, it soon became clear it was going to end in tears. One of their directors, a lobbyist, came to Guido’s attention when his card had the Tory logo on it, despite the group not being officially affiliated to party. Complaints were made and the Party seemed to realise something was up…
Sources within the group seemed confident that CAN would be given official status, not least because its Chairman Dr Wafik Moustafa was a close friend of Warsi who was proud that she had lived in his house. Issues around Warsi’s expense claims were well-known in the network and voiced to Guido before Christmas and again in January. CCHQ’s rejection of CAN’s affiliation in March meant there was a risk of Moustafa going rogue…
Reliable Tory sources tell Guido that IDS SpAd Susie Squire is being lined up to replace Henry Macrory as the Head of Press at CCHQ. Guido spoke to Susie this morning who refused to comment on our well sourced speculation. The frontline job at DWP is one of the toughest spinning jobs in government, yet Squire, a veteran former spinner for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, has still managed to remain popular amongst hacks…
Guido hears that popular Tory Head of Press Henry Macrory is standing down at the end of next week. Starting out in No.10 after the election, he has been beefing up the CCHQ press team for the last year after a mass exodus to government and the private sector. CCHQ have confirmed he is off, but other sources suggest that a recruitment process has not yet begun…
UPDATE: Seems recruitment has begun and at least one candidate has turned it down…
This morning’s Indy has another instalment of the Don’t Sack Sayeeda Warsi Campaign. Though the rhetoric is toned down from previous efforts, she is uncompromising in her attacks on the right of the party. Oliver Wright has been on one of the Tory Chairman’s tour of the sticks, but fails to mention on particular incident from Friday night – Pendle Conservatives Titanic-themed black tie Spring Ball.[…] Read the rest