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What does Caroline have left to do?

Lord Ashcroft was right not to put his money into the hands of CCHQ. I am sure he was able to spend it better. If he has more control of spending across CCHQ I think we can be sure that donors are getting better value for money.

A Directoire for the Conservative Party? Roll on the 18 Brumaire.

This is Francis Maude's work. His final act as Chairman.

Well, surprise! surprise!

Michael Ashcroft and his coterie of modernisers re-emerge as a very powerful force in the party

And Ashcroft was elected by whom, precisely?

Oh great, since Hilton and Osborne are to be more involved in the major campaigns, does that mean we can expect more campaigns of the type of the Tosser adverts?

I welcome the fact that more full time people are being brought into these areas.

George Osborne needs to be careful that he masters his Finance brief as the perception is growing that he is not doing a good job there.

Who is in charge of parliamentary by elections? This has been one of our weakest areas, though we look to see if Grant Schapps has improved things at Ealing Southall.

What does Caroline have left to do? Why, as nominal Chairman her purpose will be acting as human shield for the protection of the other two.

Why would anyone be against the work of Lord Ashcroft? I have never heard anything said against him by anybody and as Jennifer Wells mentions his donations to key marginals in 2005 was money well spent.
Regarding Osborne,I hope he can find the time to carry out all his tasks.He will be under huge pressure already so I hope Cameron knows what he's doing and hasn't completely overburdened him.
George's political antennae is not always the best,after the Grammar school affair he had an opportunity to repair relations but instead made his 'heir to Blair' speech which was very easy for political enemies of the Conservative party to misconstrue, which of course they did.

All the traditional powers of the Party Chairman have been given to Osborne, Ashcroft and Spencer.

The real story is that Team Cameron could not find a woman Chairman that they could trust to do the whole job.

Spelman is no more than a politically correct PR figurehead. It is a pathetic copycat appointment in response to that of Harriet Harman.

Spelman's only real task will be to ensure that more women are selected. It is no surprise that she thought long and hard about accepting. It must be humiliating for her!

The media image of the party could not be more important and Caroline Spelman will be brilliant in that role.

Why would anyone be against the work of Lord Ashcroft? I have never heard anything said against him by anybody

Well you must have cloth ears then, although to be fair the most extreme accusations (eg the allegations made by The Times which were the subject of libel proceedings) have never been proved.

Ashcroft gives the impression - doubtless erroneously - of having bought the Conservative Party lock stock and barrel, and when one learns that he was also identified as the single largest individual donor to any Australian political party during the Financial Year 2004/2005 alarm bells start to ring for those of us who dislike and distrust that particular ethos.

But it's obviously no problem for you Malcolm. You can bury your head back in that nice comfy sand and go to sleep again.

V good analysis. Spelman is clearly just the front - a female face to do interviews and improve Party image.

She obviously has no influence or input into what will happen. perhaps she would have been better to turn down the job and keep a brief ???

As for the rest as ever with the Tory party its one step forward and two steps back. Just as the inept media operation run by low grade amatuers is improved with the introduction of Coulson, Ashcroft brings back previous campaigning rejects.

If anybody ever writes an analysis of the money wasted on redundancies by the party in recent years - and then subsequent re-hiring in many cases - it will be staggering.

Talk of rejects is very unfair "tiles". By all accounts the target seats initiative run by Ashcroft's team before the last election was very impressive.

I thought that you might bring that up Traditional Tory. The Times was unable to prove anything and when Ashcroft defended himself the Times and the odious journalist Tom Baldwin who wrote the story backed down.I'm sure you know all this TT,but don't let the truth get in the way of your ad hominem attacks. Why don't you go and play with your CDA mates instead ?

Sorry Editor - I meant rejects in the sense that they were previosuly emplyed at CCO. It does seem bizarre that any business would consistently lay off people and then re-employ them.

As for the Ashcroft / Times saga. the fascinating aspect there is one fo the key protagonists for The Times was George Bridges as is outlined in Lord Ashcroft's excellent book. He is very critical and angry at Bidges in teh book. So how are they going to work together?

I have to say I resent the continued use of the term "modernisers". It pre-judges the issue over whether the policies and people concerned are correct or not.

Furthermore, some of the policies concerned are certainly not "modern". Cameron's commitment to a govt-run and funded NHS might or might not be a good thing, but it differs in no essential detail from the system set up in the 1940's. In fact, if there's one thing that's struck me about the so-called "modernisers", it's that I cannot ever recall hearing a single original or intellectually challenging idea from them.

I think any democrat should be wary of the way Ashcroft is buying power for that is what he is doing. If he was just ideologically motivated he wouldn't insist on running operational side of the things, why would he?

Well Malcolm you said you had never heard a word said against Ashcroft and now you admit you have. Any chance of getting your story right first time?

Who are my CDA mates? Do please enlighten us.

Come on guys. Less of this questioning of each other please.

OK Editor,sorry.

It strikes me that Caroline Spelman's job will be to rebuild the party structures and membership. That this is not seen as one of the Party Chairman's traditional roles perhaps goes some way to explaining why the party is in such a state in large parts of the country.

All very important responsibilities too.

Sorry Editor - I meant rejects in the sense that they were previosuly emplyed at CCO. It does seem bizarre that any business would consistently lay off people and then re-employ them.

I don't think it's accurate to say that people like Gavin Barwell were "laid off". I think saying that they were headhunted by Ashcroft for his team would be closer to teh mark. I imagine he can afford to remunerate people a bit more realisticlly than CCHQ does...



Dear oh dear.

Poor old Caroline Spelman has been getting it in the neck more than a house guest at Castle Dracula.

Our electoral campaign strategy has traditionally been formulated and implemented on a team basis, hasn't it?

In 2005, I seem to recall Lynton Crosby, David Cameron and George Osborne running the show, with Maurice Saatchi sulking about being sidelined and Liam Fox busy making snide remarks about David Davis, although please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

In 2001, wasn't the campaign masterminded (for want of a far more appropriate word) by Andrew Lansley and George Osborne (again), rather than Michael Ancram?

To ask a candid question, what purpose do you hope to serve by belittling and undermining Caroline Spelman?

Inaccurate comparison Daniel - we are only two years into the electoral cycle so the correct comparison would be with 1999 and 2003.

it is definitely a radical change although comparisons could be made with Theresa May -- another token appointment who was in reality a front woman whilst the real decisions were taken by others.

The analysis is worthy as it shows great insight and shows significant change in the way the Party is being run. Osborne's position clearly shadows that of Douglas Alexander and wether you think it menacing or not Ashcroft's coup is clearly of significance.

It is probably in caroline's interests for this to be pointed out now before she gets the blame for things which aren't her fault.

Just re Tiles @ 10.34 saying the business world wouldn't lay-off people and re-employ them. What? They do it all the time! Also some organisations find it hard to keep a full team in place when there are peaks in activity eg elections and lulls in between. If there are people with experience and we need them back, lets have them.


Bit of an over-reaction I think. There is very little there that wasn't the case at the 2005 election, even putting Fox and Saatchi as one.

Both Hilton and Osbourne are more in election winning jobs that running the party so I'd imagine that Spelman will have enough to keep herself busy.

And as someone on the campaigning committee for a winnable seat, I'd like to say that Lord Ashcroft has done a smashing job of targetting finance to the seats that need it. I think to write him off because he's a "moderniser" ignores the massive role he would have in our election whether DC was leader or not.

The growing power of Ashcroft in party affairs should worry every true democrat. Noone should be able to buy their way into such a controlling position. It scares me frankly. ConHome must keep an eye on him.

"Poor old Caroline Spelman has been getting it in the neck more than a house guest at Castle Dracula."

Great line, Daniel!

Believe it or not this post was not a get-at-Caroline effort. It's true I opposed the suggestion of her appointment when it was floated but that's yesterday's argument. I wish her well now and hope that in arguing the Tory case in the media and raising grassoots morale she'll prove herself to be a good Chairman.

Umbrella man got closer to the purpose of this post - the increasing power of Michael Ashcroft in the party. Unlike him I have made no positive or negative comment about that increased power but I think it very worthy of note.

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