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I can remember running a volunteer midnight press cuttings team in 1999, which usually finished about 2am. The security guard knocked off at midnight (CCO didn't have the cash for a 24hr guard), so I was entrusted with a set of keys for the place, and had to set the alarm, and lock it up every other night - which always felt a bit surreal.
I can't remember ever giving back the keys - I wonder if they still work!
Glad the Party has finally sold the place and made a profit from it.

Anecdote from the Telegraph:

"The famous "war room" on the second floor, where the Conservative attack troops took the battle to Labour, was still decorated with campaigning stickers. "Vive Le Quid," read one. "Keep The Pound," said another.

A third said "You can only be sure with the Conservatives", while a fourth was clearly stuck there as a joke: "Same old Tories, same old lies". Lord Parkinson, chairman from 1981 to 1983 and 1997 to 1998, said Central Office was a great place to be when the party was winning elections.

He told how a distinctly shabby feel was encouraged by the then-treasurer Lord McAlpine to create a parsimonious air to encourage donors to be generous.

He said: "McAlpine had a huge hole in the carpet when you went into his room. A benefactor offered to give him a new carpet. But McAlpine said: 'Over my dead body. That hole is worth thousands'.""

When Jeffrey Archer was still an official party member he once walked into an unlocked CCO and was able to wander through the building without any sign of a security officer.

That great head and shoulders statue of Winston Churchill that used to stand on a plinth in the reception area. Can Mr C's bust be found at the new CCHQ or has Ghandi taken its place?

My memories...

Danny Finkelstein's insatiable thirst for diet coke...

Dominic Cummings screaming expletives from his office...

Rick Nye rocking backwards and forwards in his chair while writing speeches...

The New Zealand lady on reception always being the cheeriest person in the building.

It cost a reported £5m a year to run Victoria Street whilst Smith Square was empty. So the real "profit" will be very small.

Of course, the party no longer has a fixed asset as security for overdrafts or loans. Michael Howard's profligacy during his short time as leader has cost the party its main asset.

No wonder Dave is running cap in hand to the taxpayer. I expect as bust of Karl Marx to replace Churchill's.

The guy that did the post - Gerald ? - before he was heartlessly sacked by Mark Macgregor

Theresa May and Michael Howard dancing together at the big Christmas parties for CCO staff

Gerald was great.

My memories:

Nick Wood's office being a fog of tobacco smoke.

Amanda Platell looking out of the glass window of her office to ask 'who the hell is that funny looking bloke' to passing members of the Shadow Cabinet

The Canteen serving Chicken Korma for breakfast on day one of the 2001 Election tour.

The great messenger in the 1990s -who was fine for taking stuff over to the Commons, but rarely came back, as he was often detained in the press gallery bar....

I also want to know if the sale includes Jonathan Caine.

At the risk of blowing my cover if the people I was with on the two occasions read this, my memories are:

1. Going to see Cecil Parkinson when he was Party Chairman the first time on some point of party contention and he trying to charm me and my fellow rebel by conspiratorially showing the two of us his red box as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster containing a document asking him to approve some obscure ecclesiastical appointment. Not sure if Sara Keyes was the PA outside his office. I was not there in person a few months later when the most famous CCO picture, of Thatcher and Parkinson waving out of the window after the 1983 victory, was taken; but it feels like it. He must have either just given her, or been about to give her, the bad news on his personal life.

2. Early morning of 2 May 1997 going down to stand outside CCO to see Major etc arriving and leaving after the landslide and getting some gratification from deliberately obscuring the view of the BBC camera man by holding up a poster in front of him at the crucial moment when Major came out. An intrepid band were there as well-wishers to bid farewell to an era and we did not see why we should be pushed around by the likes of the BBC who were one felt relishing the Party's humiliation, like rubber-neckers at a motorway pile-up. Rarely a huge fan of Major's, I felt for him that morning, and appreciated his dignity in defeat.
An hour or two before Major was leaving, when there were a lot more people there, I also remember managing to get through the melee in the doorway of CCO and coming face to face in the crush with an ashen-faced Michael Portillo, to whom my commiserations ("such a pity because you would now have been becoming leader") were deliberately met with nil reaction. The security men then chased after me having correctly realised that I had got into the CCO foyer without a pass. I was mildly indignant ("This is our Party you know, we are the party members who sustained and paid for all you lot through 18 years of Government"), but I suppose he had a point. I could have been anyone.

Standing outside Smith Square after the 1992 win feeling absolutely elated. About 4 in the morning Chris Patten arrived after losing his Bath seat. I remember feeling desperately sorry for him.If I'd known then what I know now......

"Rarely a huge fan of Major's, I felt for him that morning, and appreciated his dignity in defeat."

Indeed, I was very moved to see him later at the Oval. It was a very dignified exit and he has remained dignified ever since.

I remember jokily being offered a camp-bed by the receptionists during the appalling first London Mayoral selection (...de-selection, re-selection, blood-over-the walls final meeting)process, and getting to know the place well enough in the latter half of the 90's to help myself to stuff from the kitchen fridges when the staff had gone home!

I worked in Speakers Department from 1988 to 1990 (when I got "head hunted" by the Great David Amess!) My bosses were first of all the magnificent and redoubtable Margaret Palmer and then Tim Cowell who was a sweetheart! I have many memories, not least of some of the Research Department peoplea at that time - Berkeley Greenwood, Richard Marsh and - a certain David Cameron! Berkeley used to do a wonderful impression of Peter O'Sullivan doing racing commentary, I seem to remember!!!!

I remember Gerald - he was great and I didn't know he got sacked by Mark McGregor!!! ****::!!!!!
I remember Peter in the Post Room too who used to specialise in telling really sick jokes which used to make us laugh!!

What became of David Cameron, Sally Roberts?

Very interesting to see what a vast number of the "polite" regular posters admit to being ex CCO staff.

Add the suspected current CCHQ trolls and we are going to be left with remarkably few posters who have never taken the party's shilling.

Most of those are the alleged "UKIP Trolls"

Very interesting to see what a vast number of the "polite" regular posters admit to being ex CCO staff.

Mark, I'd have thought that only a UKIP activist would consider 5 people to be a vast number (Londoner, Umbrella Man, sjm, CCHQ Spy and Sally Roberts). Are you a UKIP activist? If not, why do you come on to this blog and go out of your way to be unpleasant to people? I'm sure it's not the real you.

I remember one member of CRD, in the summer after the '97 election, being put head first into one of the black plastic bins on the 4th floor, and his short legs kicking helplessly into the air, as David Willets walked through the department.

There was also the time, during the 97 campaign that the then Party Chairman banned the cooking of bacon for breakfast in the canteen, because it put him off when he was going into the press conference room. There was of course a swift u-turn on that policy after a day or so.

A canteen? Surely you mean staff restaurant?

Mark McCartney says: "Very interesting to see what a vast number of the "polite" regular posters admit to being ex CCO staff." and Valedictory commented: "Mark, I'd have thought that only a UKIP activist would consider 5 people to be a vast number (Londoner, Umbrella Man, sjm, CCHQ Spy and Sally Roberts)."

Whilst I am happy to be counted as a polite poster, I have never been an employee of the party and don't think I implied that I had been - so the vast number is a maximum of four. I plead guilty to having been a long term activist and member, most actively during the glorious 80s, and it has always been in that capacity that I have visited CCO. I know it might seem remarkable that when two activists had a grouse about the party we were invited to see the Chairman to discuss it, but, remarkably enough, that was actually how the Party worked in those days!

Not that I've got anything against people who have worked professionally for the Party and, having worked for it usually for fairly little financial reward, they are as entitled to feel strongly about its future as anyone.

Returning to Cecil Parkinson, I do remember him once saying that the difference between Labour and the Tories is that the Tories like each other...(no innuendo intended). Perhaps if there is any theme in ex-CCO staff being polite, maybe that attitude lives on and therefore they don't immediately reach for the "abuse" bottom whenever someone disagrees with them. Seems a good example to follow.

Sorry, unfortunate typo in the penultimate line of my post. It is of course the "abuse button" I meant to suggest that CCO types do not automatically reach for. Whether or not they reach for the bottom, I cannot judge.

>>Mark, I'd have thought that only a UKIP activist would consider 5 people to be a vast number (Londoner, Umbrella Man, sjm, CCHQ Spy and Sally Roberts)<<

Sure, Valedictoryan, if there were 100 regular posters four or five wouldn't be a large number but of course there aren't 100 regular posters, and these are all familiar names.

The fact that the Cameroons constantly whinge that they are being swamped by alleged UKIP posters indicates that the true total must be relatively small.

Actually, this UKIP-under-the-bed obsession is rather amusing. It seems the notion that there are a large number of Tories who can't stand Cameron sends the Cameroons straight into a state of denial.

Whilst the facts that: (a) Londoner and probably others you cite are not "Cameroons" if you actually read what we say on lots of issues; (b) opinion polls consistently show for the first time for at least 15 years that we are not flatlining at 32%; and (c) that many of those posting on here constantly mention UKIP even though their total opinion poll rating is a small fraction of the percentage that Cameron has increased ours by, is not something that you (Mark Mc) would want reminding.

How does a thread of fond memories of CCO of long-standing members get highjacked by someone like you? Oh yes, I remember, you decided to start attacking people because they might once have been committed enough to the Party to work for it.

I am glad C Parkinson at 17:33 has got back on topic though.

Many of my memories are the same as "Umbrella Man" and "Old Timer".

Nick Wood's office reeked of smoke but he also had that dinky little airconditiong outfit in the corner. I remember the Geneva room upstairs as being the only room in the place that had decent airconditioning in summer.

I remember the un-ergonomic chairs, the PA tickers we used to have on the computers, the rabbit's warren that the Treasurer's office seemed to be, and being dragooned to make up the numbers to press conferences. I remember being told to stop cheering and waving like a silly tourist when the Queen raced over the bridge and passed me heading towards the Palace, when I was on my way to Portcullis House (it was easy for an Australian to forget she was actually a local). I remember surprising someone when I pointed out that Westminster Hall's oldest bit was four times older than the European history of Australia.

The nice lady on front desk from Unzud was Judith. She used to talk to me about retiring one day to my home patch (Queensland).

Finally I was amused by the security guys. One of them used to remind me of Michael Caine, or more accurately, a parody of Michael Caine.

Working at CCO was the strangest, but by far the most entertaining, job I'd had in politics. It was very, very different to Australian politics, that's for sure.

Mark McCartney, LOL! I love the fact you used inverted commas around the word "polite", as though it was a strange word or activity. Priceless.

Being polite is strange to Mark Mcartney Alexander, I thought you would have realised that!

How is "having memories of 32 Smith Square" the mark of an inclusive party?

Sounds extremely cliquey to me

My memory of CCO is far more surreal.

I had phoned in to order additional copies of some anti-Euro leaflet that had come through in the weekly mailing.

The phone was answered, as always, by a snooty woman who always started speaking too soon - so all the caller heard was
"....tral office"

I told her what I wanted... she didn't know what I was talking about. I explained in more detail. She suggested I phoned Reading.
I explained I had already called Reading and they told me to call ...tral office.

After much tutting, snorting and rustling of paper she announed... "Oh very well - I will put you through to Europe."

The phone in "Europe" rang, and rang and rang...

After an eternity...

Oh Hello - is that Europe.
"No - its Ffiona"
I was hoping to speak to Europe.
"Sorry - they have all gone to Wilton’s for lunch. I was just wandering past and heard the phone ringing."

I never did get my leaflets!

Happy days.

Just in case Mark McCartney is still checking this post, as I have posted on previous occasions, I have NEVER been an employee of the Party, just an officer - and for a few years, Smith Square was like a second home because of the number of meetings I had to attend, and the functions I ran there.

And I forgot to mention the ever-helpful and efficient Judith on the front desk.

Very flattered to be described as "polite"! I can assure you I am not always!!!

CCO was great.

I have fond memories of Gerald and Judith too, and also of the various members of the security staff - at least two of whom were certifiable.

The best aspect was being part of a project I believed in (albeit at that time a failing one), the collegiate atmosphere in the War Room and working with some highly admirable MPs.

I have so many memories. One that sticks out today was of waiting outside CCO for William Hague to come back on the night of the 2001 General Election. Some hostile people had managed to mingle with staff, and were preparing to hold up a banner.

I went and stood in front of them, and such was the depth of my feeling at the time that they were wise indeed in their decision to keep quiet.

Apparently Nicky Campbell was seen and heard to look over at me and ask 'who's that skinhead?'.

There was a lot of laughter in CCO back in those days, and I'll always be mighty glad I worked there.

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