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The four weaknesses in David Cameron's office

By Tim Montgomerie

Wanted In his indispensable Mail on Sunday column James Forsyth urges David Cameron to employ "a White House-style headbanger to tell Dave's REAL story":

"Downing Street has had a difficult return from the summer. Cameron’s family commitments and the Coulson affair have made it hard to get on the front foot. But the problems of the past few weeks demonstrate that there is a need for someone to link up the communication and policy branches of the operation. One person with an intimate knowledge of the operation tells me that what it requires is a hard-charging character who will knock heads together to get things done - a British version of President Obama’s notoriously aggressive chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Cameron’s current chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, performs a valuable role for him. But he is not that kind of character."

This was almost exactly the same conclusion of ConservativeHome's General Election Review, published in May:

"A strong Chief of Staff or/and campaign co-ordinator is needed to bang heads together when there are disagreements and to ensure that those disagreements are resolved. Steve Hilton is accused by many of a volcanic temper - something he concedes. He often erupts because of the failure of the machine to function decisively. A strong Leo McGarry-style force within the operation will ensure key themes are chosen and then prosecuted. The figure could also resolve the creative tensions within the team - personified by Steve Hilton, strategy director, and Andy Coulson, communications director. David Cameron's existing chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn is popular and trusted on foreign policy but, for whatever reason, does not fulfil the role recommended here."

In addition to a Chief of Staff figure there is almost unanimity in Westminster that Cameron also needs (1) a top aide who will regularly meet commentators and explain the Coalition's narrative; (2) a wordsmith who can bring this narrative alive and (3) an External Relations capacity that will build deeper relations with the conservative movement, including think tanks and opinion-formers.

> Throughout this week, beginning tomorrow, ConHome will be publishing fifty word drafts of what "Dave's real story" might look like.


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