Tories’ London Troubles Aren’t Limited to Election Results

Yesterday Guido reported that CCHQ is hiring two new press officers ahead of the next election. No doubt these roles will get snapped up quickly, though down the river at City Hall the Tories’ operation is having greater troubles hiring staff. In January their senior press officer departed to become head of communications at the Conservative Environment Network. Four months on, the role remains unfilled despite local elections. It’s been relisted three times despite a salary offer of up to £47,000…

It’s not just this notable vacancy in their London operation and the local election results signalling headaches for the Tories. Last Friday, Gareth Bacon – MP for Orpington – wrote an op-ed calling for London to get its own dedicated Tory party:

“we must reform the Conservative Party. It’s time for a distinct London Conservative identity, focused on communicating the party’s message and listening to Londoners. Backed by a professional, dedicated campaign team, it can unite MPs, Assembly members and councillors to connect with every corner of Greater London.

We do not need a totally independent party like the Scottish or Welsh Conservatives. But we do need the identity and machinery of one to develop policies and messages that speak to Londoners in every borough. It would stop the silly cycle of building a campaign around a particular mayoral candidate only to disband it post-election.”

Bacon’s not wholly off the mark here. For example, Guido spots the London Conservative Facebook page hasn’t been updated since 12th November 2020. Despite an intervening election in the London Assembly.

Guido has long advocated independence for London, perhaps the London Tories should become more militant and seccesionist, making the rest of the country pay their own way…

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Andrew Rosindell’s Office Not Answering Queries

Guido has been in contact with the Romford MP’s office this evening and the last time they answered the phone they hung up on us. Suffice to say, they will not be commenting tonight…

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Local Tories Take “Routemaster Approach” to Save Electoral Hopes

The mood on the ground amongst the Tories isn’t hugely optimistic in the final stretch of campaigning. As Guido covered this morning, the Hartlepool association are practically begging for forgiveness on their leaflets, and there are now reports from across the country – particularly outside the M25 – of local Tories trying to distance themselves from Westminster and the party leadership. In fact, Guido hears associations in the South East have adopted a new campaigning technique they’ve affectionately dubbed “the Routemaster Approach“. “Throw Boris under the bus, and residents start talking to you again”…

Guido’s spoken to multiple other campaigners, and each had their own innovative ways of putting daylight between their local efforts and the “mess” in Westminster. One activist said his association had instructed him to tell residents he’s “very disappointed at what happened” regarding Partygate, and to remind locals that councillors “have no power over” the leadership. “Don’t shoot me, I’m a Conservative” is apparently the opening gambit for several candidates on the doorstep. A candidate in the South also claimed that while the overall mood is “mixed“, he was only able to secure the promise of a voter when he admitted the Partygate saga was “a disgrace“. Some are now even afraid to use Tory blue branding:

One day more…

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Local Tories Beg Voters Not to Punish Them for “Mistakes Made in Westminster”

This time last year, Hartlepool Tories were rolling out the red carpet for Boris so he could pose next to a giant inflatable replica of himself following the party’s victory in the by-election. Jill Mortimer had become the first Tory to win the seat since 1959, and it was smiles all round. One year on, and the mood’s deflated…

Local Tories are now flooding letterboxes with leaflets which practically beg for voters’ forgiveness for all the bad press coming out of Westminster. At least two candidates have attached their signatures to this message:

“This Thursday, please don’t punish local Conservatives for the mistakes made in Westminster, we are local and proud of where we live, and like you, we want the best for Hartlepool.”

They’ve also stuck the EU flag next to Labour’s logo to remind their red wall voters who they’re really up against. One day to go…

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Probably a Good Day for CCHQ to Take Down Tax Promise

The Tory manifesto made six straightforward, clear-cut and verifiable promises. The promise not to put up National Insurance was there in black and white, just above the Prime Minister’s signature. Given it is going up today it is probably a bit embarrassing to leave it on the Conservatives.com site…

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Boris Charms MPs Back Onside Over Dinner

Boris’s charm offensive with Tory MPs at the Park Plaza Hotel seemed to work a treat last night, with the speech going down so well it even ended with a standing ovation. In December this would have been unimaginable. Three months is a long time in politics.

Alex Wickham has the best lines from the speech, with Boris kicking off by saying “good evening ladies and gentleman, or as Keir Starmer would put it, people who are assigned female or male at birth.” He didn’t shy away from the obvious reason the dinner was happening in the first place, joking that “one of reasons that Putin is deluded and isolated is because he has no cabinet of equals, no 1922 Committee and nobody to write 54 letters to Sir Graham Brady”, and even claiming he’s “more popular in parts of Kyiv than in parts of Kensington.” Earnestly promising to “turn it around” for the next election…

ITV and Newsnight doorstepped the MPs as they arrived, with Paul Brand asking if “dinner and drinks” would buy their loyalty. Andrew Bridgen – who tore up his letter earlier this month – assured that it wouldn’t, although the “international security situation will”. Boris also took the opportunity to try out a few new attack lines, saying “it is impossible to imagine a Labour defence minister arming Ukraine in the way this Conservative government has.” Expect to hear this line repeated in the next few weeks. 

An MP in attendance tells Guido “It wasn’t hugely gag laden. Just the right tone. Self deprecating and went down really well.” Looks like Graham Brady’s in tray won’t be as full as expected…

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